There is no rain forecast to hit York for the last couple of days of their Ebor meeting and the ground will be drying out all the time ahead of today’s Group 1 feature the Nunthorpe Stakes.
The card opens with a 12f handicap and Zabeel Champion looked ready for a step up in trip when runner up at Goodwood last time from a 3lbs lower mark. Ryan Moore keeps the ride on the three-year-old who is a half-brother to group 2 winner Dame Malliot. The three-year-old is a best-priced 9/4, however, and the classic generation have not produced a winner of this contest in the last decade.
I hope it is significant that the powerful connections of Alfaatik (1.45) have persevered with the four-year-old who has been gelded since running poorly in the listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood last May. The selection won first time out at Chelmsford when he looked a horse of some potential and he is also bred to be smart. He wore blinkers for his second start in the Sandown Classic Trial and trainer John Gosden applies the headgear again today. The each way selection was backed from 13/2 to 11/2 with William Hill who are offering 4 places in the early exchanges.
Gosden steps Enbihaar up in trip to two miles for the first time in the Lonsdale Cup and the drying ground is very much in her favour. I am loath to desert her but the drying ground is also a positive for Nayef Road (2.15) who ran a career best when beaten a length by Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup last time.
The selection – a general 5/2 shot – has not exactly sparkled in two previous visits to the Knavesmire, but they were in the Dante and Gt Voltigeur and he has improved for the step up to two miles.
Battash banished his Royal Ascot demons in the King’s Stand Stakes back in June and he did a similar thing in last year’s Nunthorpe when he put behind two previous defeats on the Knavesmire with a sensational display. Save a poor showing at Longchamp in the Abbeye last autumn the only horse to beat Battash in the last couple of seasons is Blue Point and he will be hard to beat if he brings his A game to the table again today.
On soft ground I did feel Art Power would have his measure but this is likely to be the fastest ground Tim Easterby’s three-year-old has encountered and he is likely to find keeping tabs on Battash beyond him in such conditions.
In the Convivial Maiden Naval Crown looked all at sea on the fast ground at Ascot last time when backed as if defeat was out of the question in the listed Winkfield Stakes. Today’s good ground should be ideal, but he is short enough at 5/4 and Broomy Law (3.45) is taken to reward each way support for Kevin Ryan. The selection – 13/2 with Unibet – was slowly away and not knocked about at Haydock on debut but finished well. He is entitled to come on for the run in the richest race of its kind in the racing calendar.
In the concluding mile handicap Cold Front (4.50) steps up in trip for his handicap debut having broken his maiden tag at Haydock last time when he made all for a fluent 4L success.
The runner up Raeed has subsequently gone one better and is now rated 89. With that in mind Cold Front looks potentially well treated from a mark of 91 although a draw in stall 11 – of 16 – is a slight concern and he would not want the ground to dry out too much. The 17/2 at William Hill – five places – is a fair each way price.
In the last at Killarney I am hoping to see Wonder Laish (4.45) take advantage of the 13lbs – including jockey’s allowance – he receives from Mt Leinster in the 2m 1f flat race. The selection – 9/4 with Boylesports – made a bad mistake at the first in the Galway Hurdle last time before being hampered at the second and that realistically ended his hopes. The selection has won on heavy ground over timber and connections look to have found a good opportunity.