2020 Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) Preview
Courtesy of Michael Adolphson
Race: Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes
Grade: Group 1
Purse: Decreased for 2020 to $330,000; $530,000 in 2019
Racecourse: York Racecourse (United Kingdom)
Win and You’re In: $1 Million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1)
• Contested over a straight five furlongs (1000m).
• Course record set last year by Battaash (55.90).
• Racecourse located in the north of England in the historic city of York, an area settled first around 7000 BC and founded as a city in 71 AD.
• Trainer Michael Dods, who starts Que Amoro, has finished first or second in three of the past five runnings.
• 1984 winner Committed went on to be 7th in the 1985 BC Sprint and is the granddam of 2007 BC Turf winner English Channel.
• 1985 winner Never So Bold went on to finish 10th in the 1985 BC Mile.
• 1986 winner Last Tycoon went on to win the 1986 BC Mile.
• 1989 winner Cadeaux Genereux went on to sire 2008 BC Juvenile Turf winner Donativum.
• 1990 winner Dayjur, the top-rated sprinter of modern times, went on to finish second in the 1990 BC Sprint.
• 1991 winner Sheikh Albadou went on to win the 1991 BC Sprint and finish 4th in the 1992 BC Sprint.
• 1999 winner Stravinsky went on to finish 6th in the 1999 BC Sprint.
• 2003 winner Oasis Dream went on to finish 10th in the 2003 BC Mile and would sire 2009 BC Filly & Mare Turf winner Midday.
• 2017 winner Marsha went on to finish 6th in the 2017 BC Turf Sprint.
Note: OR (Official Ratings) are provided. To give class context on those numbers, brilliant sprinter Lady Aurelia and champion Tepin were rated 122, Goldikova topped out at 125 and the great Enable is rated 128.
(Charlie Hills / Jim Crowley) – 1/2
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Shadwell Stable)
He is the top-rated sprinter in the world and has held that title for nearly four seasons. Battaash began as the bad boy of the barn and has become a superstar for the yard of Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer Charlie Hills. Carrying the Shadwell blue and white and stable jockey Jim Crowley, he broke the track record in this race last year and appears to be possibly even better in 2020 at age six. Perfect from a pair of runs this year, the 12-time winner from 22 starts easily bested the King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot in June and the King George Qatar Stakes (G2) at Goodwood in July. Blessed with an incredible cruising rate, the son of Dark Angel appears to have this field at his mercy, but has little room for error in a five-furlong sprint and has lost this race twice (at ages three and four). “He seems in great shape and enjoying his racing,” Hills told Racing Post. “It hasn’t been straightforward by any stretch of the imagination and it’s been well documented he was tricky as a 2-year-old, so was gelded—but now he’s got more races under his belt (and) he’s a proper professional. He’s very straightforward to train now and will do anything you ask. He’s a better eater and is lovely and calm in his box. Any child could go in and give him a cuddle, as he loves the attention. We’ve got a great routine with him.”
• VIDEO: 2020 King’s Stand Stakes (G1) (At The Races)
(Tim Easterby / Silvestre De Sousa) – 5/2
King Power Racing Co. Ltd.
While most of the world expects Battaash to have his way with this field, if Art Power steps up in a big way, it would not be a complete shock to see the proverbial passing of the torch. A gorgeous gray son of Battaash’s sire Dark Angel, the King Power Racing-owned Tim Easterby trainee has won four of five and enters with a four-race streak of wins by a combined 16½ lengths. Two races back, he served notice with a 3½-length drubbing of handicap company at Royal Ascot and then dismissed G1-winning Millisle—who would win in G3 company next out—in Naas’ Lacken Stakes (G3) on July 4. Friday will be the most intense challenge of his short career, but he has shown many of the same attributes Battaash displayed at this point, which could make things quite interesting in the final furlong of this all-out dash.
• VIDEO: 2020 Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap (Royal Ascot) (At The Races)
(Simon & Ed Crisford / William Buick) – 7/1
Shaikh Duaij Al Khalifa
While things did not go to plan last year at the Breeders’ Cup for A’Ali, where the Norfolk Stakes (G2) winner had a slow start and never was able to make a dent as the third choice in the Juvenile Turf Sprint, the Simon and Ed Crisford trainee looks for a second chance at a ‘Win and You’re In’ this week at York. This season, he has resurfaced in a big way, reeling off a pair of Group wins at the five-furlong trip he will tackle on Friday. Two starts ago, he denied favorite Liberty Beach in Sandown’s Coral Charge (G3)—three weeks after said filly finished a good third to Battaash in the King’s Stand, beaten 2¼ lengths. Last out, at The Curragh, he closed resolutely to beat Make a Challenge in the Sapphire Stakes (G2), a race Mecca’s Angel used as a prep for Nunthorpe glory in 2016. A winner of five from nine, he has a persistence in his late rally that could come into play if they go too quickly early. William Buick, a sly strategist in the saddle, rides him for the first time.
• VIDEO: 2019 Norfolk Stakes (G2) (At The Races)
• VIDEO: 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (Breeders’ Cup)
(Kevin Ryan / Andrea Atzeni) – 25/1
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
Longshot Emaraaty Ana catches the eye as a value proposition. Owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, the 4-year-old has long been thought to be of quality by trainer Kevin Ryan. A winner at this meeting in the six-furlong Gimcrack Stakes (G2) in 2018, he went on to clash (to no avail) with his generation’s best in a trio of G1 races, including the English and Irish Guineas. After finishing off his sophomore (2019) season with an encouraging victory at Salisbury, the son of Shamardal has started twice to some credit in 2020, including a respectable third to subsequent July Cup (G1) winner Oxted in the Abernant Stakes (G3). Last out, he was third in Chester’s Queensferry Stakes (Listed), which should set him up nicely to cut back in trip from six to five furlongs. Class is the major question when you are taking on the top sprinter in the world, but having a Group win over this surface goes a long way.
“It’s going to be a cracking race. It’s a big step up and we know that. He ran great (last out) and he’ll improve for that. That’s why we ran him at Chester. I always had in the back of my mind, if he ran well there, that I would run him at York in the Nunthorpe. He’s a horse who’s still held in high regard. He was quite keen at Chester. They went quick, so I can’t see any problem with the drop back to five (furlongs) and obviously he’d have to be quick to lay up with Battaash. If he can keep tabs with them, he’ll finish well.”
• VIDEO: 2019 Salisbury Conditions Stakes (Salisbury Races)
Others: Moss Gill (33/1) enters off a Listed victory over this course and distance and must improve to factor here, while Ornate (33/1) (7th in this last year) stands a chance at a piece, much like his third to Battaash last out at Goodwood. Que Amoro (33/1), third to Moss Gill last out, has won five of 14, but steps up into Group company for the first time. Lastly, Kurious (50/1) has long been well-intended—even started his season in the King’s Stand—but must prove that he is back to and beyond his G3-winning form of 2019.
Synopsis: Battaash is the horse to beat, but the looming younger generation knows how to win, so if he stubs his toe at any point, he is vulnerable. If he runs his race, it will be apparent about half-way through that the race is over. Art Power, like Battaash, has a wicked cruising rate and a second gear that makes him lethal to rivals. He is the biggest challenge to the star if he takes another step forward. A’Ali is consistent and has shown class. If they go too quickly, he will come running, but he must step up considerably. The remaining runners have a chance for a piece, but must run out of their collective skin to prove victorious.
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