The Nunthorpe Stakes (3.40pm, York, Friday) is one of the few races in which two-year-olds have the chance take on their elders. Sadly, there are no juveniles in the field this year but, interestingly, Kingsgate Native, who won the race as a two-year-old back in 2007, is once again in the 20-strong field.
Shea Shea (7/2) and Sole Power (4/1), who filled the first two places in the King’s Stand Stakes, over 5 furlongs, at Royal Ascot, head the betting. They were separated by just a neck at Ascot and by just a head when they finished fourth and fifth in the July Cup, over six furlongs, at Newmarket last month, so there’s clearly not much to choose between them on recent form.
However, it’s worth noting that Shea Shea beat Sole Power twice over 5 furlongs at Meydan in March and had been off the course for 79 days prior to his run at Ascot. Sole Power has never won beyond 5 furlongs but, even back at the minimum trip, he may have difficulty pegging back a fitter, sharper Shea Shea on a less testing track.
Moviesta (11/2) missed the Stewards’ Cup, over six furlongs, at Goodwood in favour of the King George Stakes, over five furlongs, and the decision paid off, with Bryan Smart’s 3-year-old running out a convincing 1½-length winner from Swiss Spirit (8/1). He should confirm that form on 1lb worse terms, but Swiss Spirit could finish only eighth, beaten 4½ lengths, behind Sole Power in the King’s Stand Stakes. Collateral form suggests that Moviesta may struggle to beat the principals, but he is clearly improving at a rate of knots and it would be folly to write him off altogether.
Slade Power (10/1) finished a neck in front of Shea Shea in the July Cup and has since won the Phoenix Sprint Stakes, over six furlongs, at the Curragh. He is clearly worthy of consideration, but his one win over the minimum trip also came at the Curragh and it remains to be seen if he has the pace to cope with out-and-out speedsters on a less demanding track.
Tickled Pink (12/1) started favourite for the King George Stakes at Goodwood, but was badly hampered with a furlong to run and eventually finished seventh, beaten 4 lengths, behind Moviesta. She had previously beaten Kingsgate Native by a length in the Coral Charge at Sandown in July but, even with the fillies’ allowance, she has 8lb to find with Shea Shea on official ratings and looks destined for, at best, minor honours.
Kingsgate Native (14/1) clearly has his own ideas about the game, but is still capable of smart form, when in the mood, as he showed when beating Swiss Spirit, Sole Power and Spirit Quartz in the Temple Stakes at Haydock in May. At his best he could win, however he’s equally likely to take little interest, as he did when only 16th of 19, beaten 7¼ lengths, behind Sole Power in the King’s Stand Stakes and cannot be backed with any confidence.
If you really want an outsider then Spirit Quartz looks over-priced at 25/1 with Bet365. However Shea Shea represents solid Group 1 form and, even with Sole Power and Moviesta as potential dangers, still looks decent value at 7/2 with BetVictor or Ladbrokes. Our advice is to back SHEA SHEA to win and, hopefully, we can cheer home Frankie Dettori’s first Group 1 winner since returning from a drugs ban in May.