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Nunthorpe preview

Nunthorpe Stakes
5f G1 York

by Adam Webb, @adamwebb121


The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes is Friday’s main event on the third day of York’s Ebor meeting which has had a reputation of throwing up some unexpected results including twelve months ago when the ill-fated Jwala won at odds of 33/1 and this year’s favourite Sole Power who won back in 2010 when a three year old at the almost unbelievable odds of 100/1.

The best place to start is with Edward Lynam’s sprinter who has looked better than ever on his last two starts with victories in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket and in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot under the coolest of rides from Richard Hughes who keeps the ride here. He is definitely worth his place at the head of the market however the vibes from his trainer seem to suggest he isn’t in as good form as he was earlier in the season plus the threat of rain at York is enough to put me off. His old rival Shea Shea re-opposes and must bounce back from his disappointing run at Royal Ascot where he wasn’t 100%. He was second in this contest a year ago with Sole Power right behind him in third. If he bounces back, it would be no surprise to see him hit the frame but he is a watching brief tomorrow.

The three year old challenge is headed by Hot Streak and Cougar Mountain who both contested the July Cup last time out. The former was disappointing but before then looked a sprinter of the highest quality, especially when showing a high cruising speed on soft ground in the Temple Stakes at Haydock when beating the same owner’s Pearl Secret. This effort was in-between two third placed efforts behind Sole Power at Newmarket and Ascot. There is no secret how much Kevin Ryan rates this horse and any rain that arrives at the Knavesmire will be welcome. The latter ran a superb race in defeat when fifth behind Slade Power considering it was only his second start after a cosy maiden success at Naas in June. The main concern tomorrow is whether five furlongs will actually suit with both previous efforts over six furlongs but whatever the result he will learn plenty from the experience and is definitely one to keep on the right side of.

The King George Stakes at Goodwood has been used in the past as a stepping stone towards the Nunthorpe with the likes of Lochsong in 1993 and Ortensia in 2012 both winning that race before coming on to win at York. The first five home from this year’s contest all reoppose here plus Monsieur Joe who was thirteenth. The winner of this year’s Take Cover has been a revelation this season. He returned in the King's Stand where he travelled really well until a lack of fitness told late on. Since then he won a Listed contest over course and distance before stepping up to Group Two level at Goodwood to record his biggest career success. He looks a solid bet in the race with him being in the form of his life plus the ground won’t be an issue for him and with James Doyle booked, he looks primed to run a huge race.

Last year’s Windsor Castle winner Extortionist could be described as an unlucky loser that day when not getting the best of rides from Ryan Moore but before that had looked a nice improver after disappointing on his first two starts this year when winning a handicap off 100 at Newmarket before being placed behind Fountain Of Youth at the Curragh. He then showed how tough he is when winning a Group Three at Sandown with that being the fourth Saturday on the bounce that he had raced. He looks overpriced especially with how close he was to Take Cover last time out. The third Moviesta ran his best race since winning the same race twelve months ago and isn’t trusted to repeat that form.

Stepper Point is another from the same race who was unlucky as he raced alone on the nearside rail and did well to finish as close as he did in fourth. He ran a career best when second to Sole Power in the King’s Stand and his trainer William Muir fancies him to run well however the main worry for him is that he’s drawn two around hold up horses and away from the pace.

G Force ran well enough at Goodwood but will need more required here to feature.

Rangali is a fascinating contender coming over from France. He beat the well-regarded Cat Call last time out at Chantilly in convincing style with Stepper Point held back in fourth. Rain would be welcome however the surface at Chantilly was the fastest he had ever encountered. He’s had a break since Chantilly and it wouldn’t be a major shock to see him in the frame.

Pearl Secret is one that will appreciate plenty of rain but looks a horse that wants six furlongs opposed to five so a race like the Sprint Cup at Haydock could be his with likely softer conditions with the news Slade Power is likely to miss it and head straight to Australia.

Steps is another who has improved this season but cannot throw away his chances at the start like he did in the Epsom Dash and last time out at Sandown in the Coral Charge plus he is drawn one which is another negative to his chances. Astaire ran well over six furlongs at the Dante meeting behind Maarek in a really confusing Duke of York Stakes in which the field finished stretched out across Yorkshire. He has since disappointed twice and looks hard to recommend whilst Monsieur Joe and dual winner in 2008 and 2009 Borderlescott both look seriously outclassed.

Conclusion
With concerns about Sole Power and having to forgive bad runs from both Shea Shea and Hot Streak last time out, TAKE COVER is taken to achieve a Group One victory as he is currently in the form of his life with Extortionist and Rangali to chase him home.

1: Take Cover
2: Extortionist
3: Rangali

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