Eldon Farm's Hirapour, the 2004 Eclipse Award winner as champion steeplechaser and a grade II winner this summer, will undergo a new treatment for a bone chip in his left ankle in hopes of racing this fall in the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase and the Colonial Cup (both NSA-I).The 10-year-old exited a fifth in Saratoga's New York Turf Writers Cup (NSA-I) Aug. 31 with the bone chip, but surgery was ruled out after consultation with veterinarians."The chip did not move into the joint, it just came off and moved off to the side," said trainer Doug Fout. "It hurt him at the time, but it won't necessarily stop him from running this fall."Instead of surgery, Hirapour will be treated with IRAP (interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein) where the injured joint is injected with antibodies taken from his blood. Used in humans to treat arthritis and other ailments, IRAP helps alleviate pain in the short term and promotes healing. Hirapour will be injected once every 10 days, with brief interruptions to his training on Fout's Virginia farm."I'm optimistic, but I'm not going to rave about it – this is a longshot," said the trainer. "We really have nothing to lose this way. He's going to be retired at the end of the year anyway and if he makes it back this way it's a lot less risky than surgery or other options. We'll see how he responds, see how he trains and go from there."Hirapour's fifth in the Turf Writers was the Irish-bred's worst in 13 American starts. The chip was discovered the next morning in the left ankle, which had chips removed late last year. Hirapour returned from that injury with a triumphant win in the A.P. Smithwick Memorial (NSA-II) at Saratoga Aug. 10.
A winner of more than $620,000 over jumps in the U.S. and England, Hirapour could race on the flat at Morven Park Oct. 13 with eyes on the Breeders' Cup at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 28.