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Nunthorpe Stakes preview

The Ebor Festival holds championship races across a wide range of distances and age groups. The cream of the pure sprinters line up for the fastest Group 1 of the year, the Nunthorpe. Note that at time of going to press, it's supposed to be raining quite heavily. Considering the times they've been running this week, they'd need a fair deluge to make any serious change to the going.

Returning to the blog to preview this cracking encounter is regular contributor Lara Pocock, @lara_pocock. Read more of her musings on her blog.

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Nunthorpe Stakes

For many the highlight of the Ebor Meeting at York is the Nunthorpe Stakes, a Group One run over five furlongs. The race has produced some surprising results in the last five years, with the 2010 winner (replay here), Sole Power, who lines up in this year's renewal, going off at 100-1. Last year's winner, the Paul Messara-trained Ortensia (watch the replay here) was the first favourite to win the race since 2003, when Oasis Dream completed the feat. Therefore it could be difficult to narrow down the winner, with a full field of 20 set to line up, but this also leaves some great priced horses available for each way value.

The pre-race favourite is the Mike de Kock-trained Shea Shea, second in the Group One King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and fourth in the Group One July Cup, Shea Shea certainly has the form to win this affair. This is backed up with his stablemates' form, in particular The Apache, who passed the post first in last week's Grade One Arlington Million but was demoted to second by the Stewards after an inquiry. The only downside is the ground, the South African import prefers his going as hard as a rock, something de Kock was worried about pre-Ascot, and with the unpredictable British Summer the ground could change and suit some of the other candidates.

Sole Power, winner of the King's Stand is next in line in the betting. He runs consistently, with 18 of his 34 starts yielding placings, and he often a surprise package. Although undoubtedly having a good season, others are more appealing. He was seventh in last year's renewal.

For each-way chances I like Spirit Quartz and Rosdhu Queen at 22-1 and 18-1 respectively. The William Haggas-trained Roshdu Queen has been beaten on her three starts this season but was unbeaten last year as a juvenile, winning the Group One Cheveley Park Stakes on her final start. She was fifth to Lethal Force in the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and did not appreciate the step up in trip to a mile last time out. She will relish the five furlongs of this race and won at York last season.

Spirit Quartz ran with a penalty in the Group Two King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and finished sixth to the much talked about Moviesta. The five-year-old won the a Group Two in France and comes from the yard of sprint king Robert Cowell.

The majority of the field ran in the King George, which was won impressively by the Bryan Smart-trained Moviesta. The race may have taken more than expected from the three-year-old and it will be interesting to see how he looks in the paddock prior to the race.

If the ground comes up on the softer side of good then I would fancy the Lady Cecil-trained Tickled Pink over Shea Shea. Connections think a lot of the four-year-old filly and at 12-1 she is worth a each way punt. She should improve on her last run in the King George Stakes and comes from a yard in form.

An outside chance would have to go to Henry Candy's Dinkum Diamond. Currently at 50-1 the five-year-old has put in some good performance in handicap company and will appreciated the distance and going.

Verdict

1. Shea Shea - watch the weather
2. Roshdu Queen
3. Spirit Quartz

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