I preview Friday’s Nunthorpe Stakes and provide my best tips for the race. This years race is competitive with many horses with chances, although it does seem to lack a superstar, and the winner will probably be the horse that has everything fall right on the day. They went off at a hell of a gallop last season, with Hamish McGonagall leading the way, he eventually finished 3rd, but doesn’t seem to be in the same form this season, and couldn’t lead last time in a handicap. He should still be able to take them along at a decent clip though.
Shea Shea lit up Dubai over the winter and we looked to have a global star on our hands. He hasn’t quite lived up to that billing in two starts in the UK, but has had excuses both times. At Ascot he traveled really well, and quickened nicely to win his race when asked, he went clear of the horses on his side, but got nailed late by Sole Power, who had a lead for longer on the stands side. I thought he would have won that day if drawn with the winner. Last time in the July Cup he again went through the race like a good horse, but after briefly looking like coming with a challenge at the furlong pole, his effort flattened out and he weakened close home. It’s likely that a fast run 5 furlongs, with some cover, is his optimum conditions. He should get that tomorrow and get a chance to prove the impression he made in Dubai was all that it seemed.
When Sole Power won the Kings Stand at Ascot, it was his first top level victory since winning the Nunthorpe back in 2010. Indeed he had only won 3 of his 20 races in that period, and is a horse that needs things to drop right. For a start he needs 5 furlongs and fast ground, he also needs cover and to come with one run late on. He should get the first 2 parts of the equation tomorrow, and as such is very likely to be there or thereabouts. Last time in the July Cup he ran well. Drawn on the outside his jockey made a rather quick maneuver to pull him in behind the others as soon as the stalls opened, and this meant he was a little detached after a furlong. He traveled well though and made ground through the field, until his effort predictable flattened out in the final furlong. That run showed he was still in top form, but a slight worry tomorrow is that he is again drawn on the wing in 2, and with the pace likely to come form Hamish McGonagall in 11, his rider might have to make a similar move in order to get cover.
Moviesta is a progressive 3 year old. After coming 2nd in handicaps off 93 and then 98, he won a Group 2 at Goodwood last time. He beat one of tomorrow’s rivals, Swiss Spirit by 1 1/2l that day, and while I’d expect him to beat him again, this is a much better race. Moviesta was very strong at the finish that day, and gives me the impression he’s going to prove better over 6 furlongs. A best price of only 6/1 looks on the short side.
Swiss Spirit has got beaten on his last 5 starts since winning a group 3 at Newbury last season, and his position as 4th favourite for this is a surprise. He was beaten fair and square by Moviesta, and while a really fast run 5 furlongs should suit him, I don’t see any reason why he should suddenly progress enough to win a much better race.
Slade Power however is a different story, and he’s been progressive this season. A stable companion of Sole Power he actually finished in front of both him and Shea Shea when 3rd in the July Cup, and backed that effort up by winning well, again over 6 furlongs at the Curragh last time. I’m still undecided as to what his best trip is. When he traveled supremely well and then flattened out in the Golden Jubilee over 6 furlongs, I would have said he was better over 5, he then won over 5 next time. Yet he seemed to keep going quite well in the July Cup over 6. Last time he would have won easily at either trip. I think the way he goes through a race so powerfully that 5 definitely isn’t a disadvantage, and he’s also less complicated than his stablemate, as he can be held up, or sit handy.
Tickled Pink won a group 3 at Sandown before coming 7th to Moviesta at Goowoood. She was better than the result that day, as Moviesta hampered her just over a furlong down. She wasn’t unlucky though and probably would have been only 3rd or 4th anyway, the reason she was hampered is that Moviesta got the gap, she wasn’t going well enough to take. She doesn’t appeal as having any more chance than her 12/1 odds suggest.
Kingsgate Native won this as a 2 year old back in 2007. Since then he’s become an impossible horse to predict, very rarely backing up a good display with another one. It’s perhaps a plus then, that while he was also hampered last time in that Goodwood race, it was still a below par run. If he was in the mood he could easily place in a race like this, but he’s probably unlikely to win it.
York Glory would need to take quite a step up on his handicap form to win, while Spirit Quartz was yet another to be hampered in the Goodwood race. He was 2nd in this last year though so could go well, although its debatable if he wants the ground as fast as its likely to be. Rosdhu Queen is the only 3 year filly in this but she doesn’t look good enough.
I think Shea Shea, Sole Power and Slade Power stand out here, and Shea Shea is the most likely winner, but I don’t think Slade Power should be almost 3 times his price at 10/1 with Sky Bet. Not only are they joint top price, but they are also going 4 places on the race. They makes Slade Power a cracking each way bet. If you don’t have a