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Nunthorpe Stakes preview

Bit slow off the mark today, the weather up north hasn't helped. Here's Jack Milner's look at today's highlight, the five furlong dash of the Nunthorpe Stakes!

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The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes is the highlight of Friday’s card, and has a maximum field of twenty runners battling for the £140,000 first prize, in what is truly an international field. Four runners from Ireland and one from down under have come to compete, and whilst an international feel, Yorkshire are incredibly well represented, accounting for more than half of the home runners. Unfortunately, they have a poor record, with the exception of Bordelescott, there has only been two winners for ‘Gods Country’ in the last fifteen years, both of whom were trained by Dandy Nicholls, who doesn’t have a runner.

Although Sole Power was a 100/1 winner two years ago, he was still an unbeaten colt, and it was more of a shock that he could step up from an unknown quantity, as opposed to running so badly and suddenly turning it on. Kingsgate Native returned from firing blanks in the covering shed to finish fourth last year, but looks nowhere near the force of old from winning this race in 2007, and has not won since May 2010. Although Bogart won at the meeting last year, his form has dipped this year, and was disappointing when finishing last in The Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot. Humidor, has only placed in one start from six so far this season, and despite running at group level on his last two runs, is still way off the class required for even placing at this grade.

The Irish sprint division as a whole seems to be lacking, and nothing strikes as being a real out and out challenger. Nocturnal Affair, Sole Power, Dandy Boy and Invincible Ash have patchy form this year, and although Sole Power has been running consistently, he has room to make up on horses he has finished behind this season in Bated Breath and Ortensia. As does Confessional for Ted Easterby, Beyond Desire for Roger Varian and Angels Will Fall, who does gets a weight concession being a three year old filly, but rated 104, she has work to do.

There are some horses thrown in here for reasoning that only the owners will know, presumably a jolly up in the Champagne Lounge. Secret Witness is rated 105 and is a hardened handicapper, and has placed once in Group 3 company, that being his highest achievement. Hamish McGonagall and Monsieur Joe are old sparring partners in northern listed races, and both have a victory in that level to their name thus far this season, and could have place claims if getting the run of the race up front.

Spirit Quartz is a four year old gelded son of Invincible Spirit, and has shown consistent form this season. Fifth in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, and placed in races behind Bated Breath and Ortensia, he is improving and could spring something of an upset. Masamah is rated 1lb higher, and was behind Spirit Quartz and Ortensia, provided he can step up, he is also a contender. Tangerine Trees won the Prix De L’Abbaye last year in something of a blanket finish, but rated 115, is a classy sprinter. The seven year old has been finding his feet so far this year, but like most of these sprinters seemingly in the line up, was behind Ortensia and Bated Breath in the Group 2’s at Haydock and Goodwood. Tiddliwinks won The Duke of York Stakes over six furlongs, and finished seventh in this race last year. Although a perennial bridesmaid at the top level that is usually at six furlongs, and his record over five reads 7105 and his only win was in a conditions race.

The big three that head the market are Bated Breath, Ortensia and Pearl Secret, and without overly stating the obvious, the race pivots around those three. Bated Breath is a horse that needs good ground, and Rogers Charlton’s charge should get perfect conditions, and although a multiple group winner, he has been unlucky at the top level. His form in Group One sprints reads 529222, and he has run behind horses such as Dream Ahead, Regally Ready and Little Bridge, some decent animals. Rated 118, he is the leading player, and should run close.

Pearl Secret is an unbeaten three year old colt, and trainer David Barron has gone on record saying that the chestnut colt is the best horse he has ever trained, quite lofty praise indeed. He is taking a massive step up from winning listed races at odds on though, and given his form and action, he looks like a horse who appreciates cut in the ground. He is a twice course and distance winner however, and is fiercely respected.

Save the best ‘til last; the Aussie mare ORTENSIA looks to have the added touch of class in this field, and the seven year old mare came good last time out at Goodwood, trouncing the field in style, with a good deal in hand than the two length winning margin suggested. She gave the field 4lb that day, and will be running with 3lb in her favour come Friday, and she sets the standard, being a multiple Group One winner herself. She has been running Black Caviar to 5 lengths in Australia, and can be excused her runs at Ascot and Newmarket on ground less than ideal. The quicker it is, the quicker she will run, and having already beaten almost half of this field last time out, they shouldn’t be a bother with weights reversed. Bated Breath should run her close with ground to his liking, but he will have to settle for another second place rosette, with the progressive Spirit Quartz my idea of bronze.

1, Ortensia
2. Bated Breath
3. Spirit Quartz


The Yorkshireman - Jack Milner, follow him on Twitter - @JJMSports

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