The Nunthorpe Stakes provides the most interesting Group 1 punting prospect of the entire Ebor meeting (3.40pm Friday, York). Sole Power, the 100/1 winner of this five furlong contest in 2010 heads the market at 3/1 but there are plenty of challengers with claims.
Trained by Edward Lynam, Sole Power proved that age has not dented his speed when he took the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. This seven-year-old son of Kyllachy beat Willie Muir’s Stepper Point by just over a length and had the favourite, Kevin Ryan’s Hot Streak (who is less than half his age) a neck further back in third. Sole Power previously took the Group 3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket in early May.
Richard Hughes (pictured) rode him at Ascot and once again takes the mount. They look to be the partnership that everyone has to beat.
Another veteran contender with a live chance is Take Cover,the joint second favourite at 7/1. This seven-year-old son of Singspiel must have shown his trainer David Griffiths something special at home as he made his seasonal debut in not just a Group race but the Group 1 King’s Stand rather than his more familiar handicap company. He was far from disgraced and finished three lengths behind Sole Power in eighth.
A month later he triumphed over course and distance in a listed race, beating David O’Meara’s G Force by over a length when giving him 5lb. Next time out he justified his trainer’s confidence by taking the Group 2 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, beating Olly Stevens’ Extortionist by a neck when giving him 4lb. Bryan Smart’s Moviesta was a close third. Griffiths is definitely not a ‘go to’ trainer but his horses are currently in great form. Despite his age, Take Cover has just achieved a rating of 113 – his highest ever. He is an excitable type who has been taken down early to the start in the past. He is usually ridden prominently and may give his followers more than a good run for their money if he handles the preliminaries.
The other seven-year-old attracting support is Mike De Kock’s Shea Shea (7/1).He finished second in this race last year, half a length behind Robert Cowell’s surprise winner Jwala. He had Sole Power just behind him in third. He was rated 120 at the time but has dropped 4lb in the handicapper’s estimations since.
Most recently he was a dire disappointment in the King’s Stand, finishing more than seven lengths behind Sole Power. It was his first run since returning from Meydan where he scored in a Group 3 but could only manage third in his final run there in a Group 1. Shea Shea is a class act but others have greater appeal here.
Three year olds receive an ungenerous looking 2lb weight for age allowance but that hasn’t stopped two of them winning this race in the past four years. Sole Power was one followed by Michael Bell’s Margot Did in 2011. A number are fancied here.
Aidan O’Brien’s Cougar Mountain (8/1) is having just his third start and looks progressive. This son of Fastnet Rock won his maiden easily at Naas in June and was subsequently thrown in at the deep end in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket. He was far from disgraced, finishing strongly three lengths behind Edward Lynam’s Slade Power in fifth.
Both those races were over six furlongs. The style of his latest run makes the choice of a shorter distance here a bit of a puzzle but O’Brien has won this race with three-year-olds twice – with Mozart in 2001 and Stravinsky in 1999. That record has to be respected. As usual, his son Joseph takes the ride.
A much more exposed youngster is Kevin Ryan’s Hot Streak (8/1). He benefited from a more generous 6lb allowance in the King’s Stand but could only finish third. It was a similar story (with the same weight advantage) in the July Cup. He finished over a length behind Cougar Mountain in seventh.
Kevin Ryan has scored already at this meeting and Hot Streak won twice on the Knavesmire as a two-year-old. This son of Iffraaj’s last win was on soft ground in the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock in May. With fast ground in prospect it is difficult to have much confidence in him in company of this quality.
Ryan also saddles Astaire (33/1) who most recently finished 11 lengths behind Slade Power in the July Cup. He weakened in the final furlong having made the running until the closing stages. The same thing happened in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs at Royal Ascot. He could find no more when it mattered and finished six lengths behind Slade Power in sixth.
Astaire also won twice at York last year, including the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes. He obviously likes the place and finished second in another Group 2 on the course in May, beaten half a length by Evanna McCutcheon’s Maarek. That was on soft ground and he was carrying 10lb less than the winner. This will be his first attempt at five furlongs. At his current price he has some appeal as an each-way prospect but would be more attractive on a slower surface.
The highest rated three-year-old to line up is the French raider, Rangali (16/1). Owned, trained and bred by Henri-Alex Pantall, this son of Namid was last seen winning a Group 2 at Chantilly on good ground in June. It was his first encounter of Group company and his first attempt at five furlongs. He won easily by two lengths but was shouldering 6lb less than the second placed Catcall trained by Philippe Sogorb. Stepper Point (who was a close second to the favourite at Ascot) finished a length further back in fourth under a similar burden.
In his previous run he succeeded in a listed race at Maisons Laffitte over five and a half furlongs in mud. Unlike many French challengers he at least brings some form on decent going over the channel with him. If the handicapper’s estimations are accurate (he’s rated just 1lb lower than the favourite at 118) he ought to be in with a chance of place money at the very least.
The other youngster worth mentioning is Olly Stevens’ Extortionist (14/1). He shares a rating of 113 with Take Cover having finished close behind him in the King George at Goodwood in August. In his previous run he beat Robert Cowell’s Kingsgate Native by just over a length in a five furlong Group 3 at Sandown in July.
This son of Dandy Man made a slow start to the season but has not finished out of the first two in his past four runs. This will be his first Group 1 encounter but he will love the fast going and has the benefit of Ryan Moore on board.
Nunthorpe Betting Tips Conclusion
Sole Power stands a very good chance of landing his second Nunthorpe but his price of 3/1 is less than exciting in a field of this strength. Take Cover is an interesting challenger but the highly rated and largely ignored runner in the market, RANGALI, is the most appealing. He seems to offer excellent value and has to be our betting tips pick each-way at 16/1 with Bet365 who are the only main firm to be offering 1/4 odds on the place at the moment.