Nunthorpe Stakes tips – Ante-post preview of York’s Group One sprint highlight
We take an early look at the York Ebor Festival and the feature sprint of the week, the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes which takes place on the third day of the Festival. Check out our York Nunthorpe Stakes tips below.
The latest of the big summer horse racing festivals is almost upon us with the York Ebor Festival getting underway from next Wednesday with four top-class days’ flat racing action. Group One action dominates each of the first three days, while the eponymously-titled Ebor Handicap spearheads the fourth day.
The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes is the feature race on day three of the Festival on the famous Knavesmire and in anticipation of another fast and furious renewal of the top-class sprint we cast our eyes over some of the likely main protagonists who could line up with an eye on the Group One prize and give our Nunthorpe Stakes tips for the York feature on Festival Friday.
YORK EBOR FESTIVAL – NUNTHORPE STAKES TIPS
Top-class sprinter who took this prize on Ebor Festival Day 3 twelve month ago and exorcised a demon along the way having disappointed in previous renewals. Charlie Hills’ charge ran out an easy winner that day, beating Soldier’s Call by almost four lengths to take his record for the season to three wins from four starts and his subsequent disappointment in the Prix de l’Abbaye is readily forgiven as it came on very soft ground from a less than ideal draw.
The Dark Angel gelding is 2-2 this term, winning the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot – ending another hoodoo having never won there previously – and then demolishing Glass Slippers again when extending his Goodwood winning record to four and breaking his own track record in the process when winning the King George Qatar Stakes.
He’ll likely be tough to beat on that evidence, while his win here last year was impressive and he looks a much reformed character as he gets older having earlier often looked temperamental and highly-strung. He’s the one they all have to beat again, but despite being a much more relaxed character now there is still a niggling doubt that he’ll need things to go his way in the preliminaries and at odds-on favoritism he might be worth taking on.
Trained by local handler Tim Easterby, the Dark Angel colt has shown rapid progression this term, reeling off a fourth successive win when readily seeing off Group One winner Millisle in the recent Lacken Stakes at Naas.
That took his record to four wins from five starts, only meeting with defeat on his debut when beaten at Newcastle behind Ascension. He followed up that reversal with an impressive course and distance win next time to kick-start his sequence and he hasn’t looked back this season.
A Nunthorpe appearance would demand more as it represents a significant rise in class; but he’s one clearly going the right way and it would be no surprise to see him improving again although this is much tougher than anything he’s faced.
Another improving sprinter who would be searching for a four-timer if turning out and Roger Teal’s charge is another who can’t be discounted.
The Mayson gelding has progressed well since scoring at Doncaster at the end of last season and he’2 2-2 this campaign with back-to-back wins at Newmarket which include the July Cup where he beat the ill-fated Sceptical by just over one length where the likes of Commonwealth Cup winner Golden Horde and Diamond Jubilee Stakes winner Hello Youmzain were both behind.
He had won the Abernant Stakes the time before, beating Breathtaking Look, and his form this season entitles him to plenty of respect although it remains to be seen whether he’d appreciate dropping to the minimum trip for this assignment.
Trained by US handler Wesley Ward the Uncle Mo colt made a very good impression when narrowly denied at Royal Ascot in the Norfolk Stakes behind The Lir Jet, beaten only a neck at the line and there’s likely more to come from him with the prospect of quicker ground likely to help his cause.
He led everywhere bar the finish line in that Ascot outing, caught in the dying strides by the eventual winner with the front two pulling three lengths clear of the rest of the field. The runner-up has tasted defeats in both subsequent runs but they have come in Group Two and Group One races so the form can’t be cribbed too much.
Racing as a juvenile he’d get lumps of weight and would receive a whopping 24lbs from Battaash if taking his chance. However juveniles have a dismal record with only two two-year olds winning the Nunthorpe since 1960 so history is very much against the Stateside raider.
Won three times during a successful juvenile season which included in the Norfolk Stakes at Ascot and the Flying Childers at Doncaster prior to having a tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint where he beat only two home.
Simon Crisford’s charge has readily atoned for a below-par reappearance at Newcastle in June, winning both his subsequent outings at Sandown and the Curragh respectively and the Society Rock colt could take another step up the ladder with a big performance if turning out.
His last outing saw him beat Make A Challenge by one length, scoring readily although the form is perhaps not as strong as possessed by other potential rivals. But he’s open to further improvement still and trip and ground are ideal so a big run wouldn’t surprise although he might instead head to the Flying Five at the Curragh instead.
Dual-Group One winner who looked as good as ever when gamely winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes to land the second of his top-tier wins and he wasn’t disgraced subsequently in the July Cup behind Oxted.
Kevin Ryan’s classy sprinter ran in France at the weekend past, finding only Space Blues too good in the Prix Maurice de Gheest and so may not head to York which might just come soon enough after three relatively hard races already this campaign.
The ground also might not altogether be too his liking and further rain would help; while he’s never raced over the minimum trip and the Kodiac colt would have to prove effectiveness over a fast five furlongs.
As a two-time Group One winner he would have to be respected if taking his chance but his participation seems unlikely.
Progressed into a high-class sprinter last term, rounding off the season with a Group One win in the mud at Longchamp where the likes of Mabs Cross and Battaash were behind.
Kevin Ryan’s Dream Ahead filly hasn’t been disgraced in her two runs this term behind Battaash at Ascot and Goodwood respectively, finding only Charlie Hills’ charge too good latest but proving no match for the defending champion.
She has placed here on her only previous run on the Knavesmire in last season’s Summer Stakes before racking up the wins and she’s entitled to run well again although she’ll have to up her game if she’s to take down an on-song Battaash.
Showed plenty of class last time despite not looking altogether straightforward, but he did manage to win a Listed prize at Doncaster on his penultimate outing of the campaign and he spent a successful spell in the Emirates over the winter where he was a Meydan winner in January.
Things haven’t really gone to plan for Charlie Hills’ Equiano gelding this term despite chasing home Battaash on his reappearance in the King’s Stand Stakes. He was disappointing in the July Cup, finishing around five lengths behind the winner and he endured a terrible run over this course and distance when only fifth to Moss Gill in the Listed City Walls Stakes.
He is probably better than that result and can do better; but the runner-up in that race – Al Raya – bombed at Goodwood behind Battaash next time. There’s a suspicion though that he might have more to offer and he could run well at a big price although Battaash is clearly the yard’s top chance of success in this race.
NUNTHORPE STAKES TIPS – BIG-RACE VERDICT
Younger horses have a terrible recent record in the race and Margot Did was the last three-year old to take the Nunthorpe. It should pay then to side with those aged four or older while it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a veteran post a big effort.
Defending champion BATTAASH has looked much more straightforward now than the horse who repeatedly boiled over in preliminaries to compromise his chances and the Dark Angel gelding is certainly fulfilling the obvious potential that he had throughout his career but was held back by temperament.
He’s odds-on to win this race for a second time having put to bed a hoodoo at this track with his victory twelve months ago. That price will surely put some people off given he had often run poorly on the Knavesmire prior to that success; but he showed himself reformed when also exorcising Ascot demons by winning there also for the first time and the six-year old thumped a couple of these recently at Goodwood.
He remains the one to beat and while there remains a small niggle about whether he is truly effective on this course he has winning form over most of these and if on-song he ought to be hard to beat again.
Improving duo Art Power and Oxted are respected, but the former has to buck the poor trend of three-year olds; while Roger Fell’s charge won the July Cup last time and should be on the premises if the drop to the minimum trip doesn’t catch him out.
Meanwhile, Hills’ other runner, Equilateral, could run well at a big price for each-way backers.