Wednesday, 13 March 2019

2000 Nunthorpe Stakes Winner Nuclear Debate Wins at York

Embed from Getty Images Foaled in America on February 8, 1995, Nuclear Debate was a much-travelled son of Geiger Counter, himself a minor 6-furlong winner, but a son of the superb stallion Mr Prospector. Owned by a partnership headed by J. R. ‘Bob’ Chester, Nuclear Debate began his racing career with Lynda Ramsden at Breckenbrough House Stables in Sandhutton, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire. 

He made his racecourse debut in a maiden stakes race, over 5 furlongs, at Beverley in July 1997; he stayed on in the final quarter of a mile, but was never near the leaders and finished sixth of 15, beaten 11¾ lengths. He raced five more times, without success, as a juvenile, including twice after being gelded that September. 

After a 183-day break, Nuclear Debate was placed on his first two starts, in a median auction maiden stakes race at Thirsk and a 0-110 three-year-old handicap at Lingfield, both over 6 furlongs, before finally opening his account in a maiden stakes race at Thirsk, again over 6 furlongs, in May. Thereafter, he was targeted at major sprint handicaps, winning the Gosforth Park Cup, over 5 furlongs, at Newcastle off a handicap mark of 90 and, after unplaced efforts in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood and the Great St. Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon, finishing second in the Portland Handicap, over 5½ furlongs, at Doncaster off a handicap mark of 97.

At the end of 1998, Lynda Ramsden relinquished her training licence for the first time – she would actually return to training in 2001, before doing so again in 2005 – and Nuclear Debate was transferred to Englishman John Hammond at Chemin des Aigles in Chantilly, France. Nuclear Debate was campaigned exclusively at Listed and Pattern level during his four-year-old season and recorded three wins from ten starts. In June 1999, he won the Prix Hampton at Maisons-Laffite, in August, he won the Prix du Cercle at Deauville and, in October, he recorded his first success at Group level when winning the Premio Omenoni at San Siro, Italy. 

On his return to action, as a five-year-old, in 2000, Nuclear Debate made a ‘quiet’ reappearance, when only sixth of 11, beaten 3¾ lengths, in the Prix de Saint-Georges at Longchamp in May. However, just over a fortnight later, he reversed the form with three of the horses that had beaten him at Longchamp to win the Prix du Gros-Chene at Chantilly.

Later in June, Nuclear Debate lined up, as 16/1 joint-seventh choice of the 23 runners, for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Racing in the centre of the course, he was held up at the rear by Gerald Mosse before making progress just after halfway, taking the lead inside the final furlong and running on well to win by 1½ lengths. Subsequent July Cup winner Agnes World finished second, with Bertolini further three-quarters of a length behind in third place. 

After a short break, sprint king Nuclear Debate returned to British soil for his first attempt at Group One level, in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, in August. Sent off the clear favourite, at 5/2, he was once again held up, before making headway at halfway and cruising to a comfortable 1¼-length victory over his old rival Bertolini. Subsequent Haydock Sprint Cup winner Pipalong finished third, a further 1½ lengths away. At the end of his five-year-old campaign, Nuclear Debate was voted Cartier Sprinter of the Year for 2000.

See Nuclear Debate Win the 2000 Nunthorpe Stakes at York

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Sheikh Albadou Wins Nunthorpe Stakes

Sheikh Albadou Wins Breeders' Cup
Foaled on April 15, 1988, Sheikh Albadou was a son of Green Desert, who was a good miler, but a better sprinter, as he demonstrated when winning the July Cup at Newmarket in 1986. Bred by Highclere Stud, owned by Hilal Salem and trained by the late Alex Scott at Oak Farm Stables in Newmarket, Sheik Albadou was given a low-key introduction to racing in a maiden stakes race, over 6 furlongs, on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket in October 1990. Ridden by Pat Eddery, he was sent off 11/2 co-second favourite but, after a slow start, weakened in the closing stages to finish eighth of 11, beaten 7 lengths. However, after a 192-day break, he made his three-year-old debut in a similar race at Pontefract where ridden by Bruce Raymond, he started favourite, at 13/8, and won very easily, by 7 lengths. 

Sheikh Albadou was stepped up to 7 furlongs for his handicap debut at York, in May, but failed by a short head to concede 14lb to the more experienced Rocton North. Nevertheless, back over 6 furlongs on the Knavesmire the following month, off a 3lb higher mark, he easily won a similar race by 4 lengths. 

Thereafter, Sheikh Albadou was campaigned, exclusively in Pattern company and, although he was beaten favourite on his first attempt in that sphere, in the Criterion Stakes, over 7 furlongs, on the July Course at Newmarket in late June, he soon established himself as the leading European sprinter of his generation. 

After a 54-day break, he was stepped up to Group One company for the first time, in the Nunthorpe Stakes, over 5 furlongs, at York. Despite tackling the minimum trip for the first time in his career, Sheikh Albadou was sent off 6/1 third favourite, behind French raider Divine Danse – who was chasing a hat-trick after two impressive wins at Group Three and Group Two level in his native country – at 2/1, and King’s Stand Stakes winner Elbio, at 11/4. 

In any event, it was the fast, precocious juvenile, Paris House, trained by Jack Berry, who gave Sheikh Albadou. In receipt of a colossal 21lb weight-for-age allowance, Paris House took the lead after a furlong-and-a-half and soon had most of her rivals at full stretch. However, Pat Eddery was always close up on Sheikh Albadou and produced him, under a determined drive, to tackle the long-time leader close home and win by 1½ lengths. Outsider Blyton Lad, at 40/1, finished third, a further neck away, with a long-looking 2 lengths back to the remainder, headed by Divine Danse. 

Sheikh Albadou subsequently finished second, under Bruce Raymond, in the Ladbroke Sprint Cup at Haydock and the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, before heading across the Atlantic for the final start of his three-year-old campaign, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Reunited with Pat Eddery, but racing for the first time on a dirt surface, Sheikh Albadou was sent off a relatively unconsidered 26/1 outsider in the 11-strong field, behind red-hot favourite Housebuster, at 2/5. However, he took to dirt like an old hand, clearing away from the best sprinters in North America in the closing stages to win easily by 3 lengths. Sheikh Albadou was, unsurprisingly, named Champion Sprinter at the Cartier Awards in 1991. 

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Mozart Wins Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1)

Embed from Getty Images Foaled in Ireland on February 13, 1998, Mozart was sired Ladbroke Sprint Cup winner Danehill out of Victoria Cross, an unraced half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero. Owned by Mrs. Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor and trained by Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle Racing Stable in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, Mozart made his racecourse debut in a minor maiden race, over 7 furlongs, at the Curragh in July, 2000. Sent off at prohibitive odds, of 2/9, he was pushed clear by Seamie Heffernan in the final quarter of a mile and stayed on strongly to win, easily, by 8 lengths. 

Following an 86-day break, Mozart was stepped up in class in the £400000 Tattersalls Houghton Sales Stakes, again over 7 furlongs, on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket in September. Despite facing 25 rivals, he again started favourite, at 11/10, and, although his task was made easier by the second favourite, Eminence, refusing to race, Mozart took the overall lead inside the final furlong and held on well, under Mick Kinane, to win by a length. The following month, Mozart was stepped up in class again in the Dewhurst Stakes over the same course and distance but, having held every chance with two furlongs to run, weakened in the final hundred yards to finish fourth, beaten 2 lengths, behind comfortable winner Tobougg. 

Mozart reappeared in the 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes, over a mile, at Leopardstown in April, 2001, but finished only third of five, beaten 3¼ lengths, at odds of 1/4. He was again beaten, albeit narrowly, at odds-on in the Tetrarch Stakes, back over 7 furlongs, at the Curragh the following month, before taking his chance in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, over a mile, at the Co. Kildare track three weeks later. Despite carrying the third colours of owner Michael Tabor, Mozart belied odds of 20/1 by finishing second, although he was easily brushed aside by his equally unfancied stable companion, Black Minnaloushe, in the closing stages. 

Consequently, Mozart started favourite, at 7/4, for the Jersey Stakes, back over 7 furlongs, at Royal Ascot. Reunited with Mick Kinane, he made most of the running and, despite being hard ridden, held on well close home to beat the strong-finishing Alderbaran by a neck and record his first success at Pattern level. 

However, it was on his next start, when tried over 6 furlongs for the first time, and pitted against specialist sprinters at the highest level, in the July Cup at Newmarket that Mozart proved something of a revelation. Sent off favourite again, at 4/1, he made all on the stands’ side and was ridden clear in the final furlong to beat King’s Stand Stakes winner Cassandra Go decisively, by 3½ lengths, with Sprint Stakes winner Misraah a further length behind in third place. On-course going officially described as ‘good’, the winning time, of 69.86 seconds, was only three-tenths of a second slower than the record set by Stravinsky, also trained by O’Brien and ridden by Kinane, two years earlier. 

After such a devastating demonstration of speed, O’Brien had no qualms about letting Mozart take his chance in the Nunthorpe Stakes, over 5 furlongs, at York the following month. In fact, shortly after the July Cup he simply said, ‘If we run in that [the Nunthorpe Stakes] we would have to let him go a bit earlier, that’s all.’ It appears that the betting public took the Master of Ballydoyle at his work because, on the Knavesmire, Mozart started 4/9 favourite and never gave his supporters an anxious moment, taking the lead just after halfway and running on strongly to beat subsequent Haydock Sprint Cup winner Nuclear Debate by 2 lengths. 

Sent to Belmont Park in Elmont, New York for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, back over 6 furlongs, in October, Mozart missed the break and was never involved, eventually finishing eleventh of 14, beaten 10 lengths, behind Squirtle Squirt. Nevertheless, his two domestic Group One victories resulted in Mozart being named Cartier Champion Sprinter of 2001.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Marsha Wins Nunthorpe Stunning Frankie Dettori

Marsha Win Nunthorpe Stakes
Foaled in Ireland on March 16, 2013, Marsha was a daughter of high-class multiple winning sprinter Acclamation but, unlike some of his more precocious progeny, didn’t see a racecourse until the September of her two-year-old season. Bred and owned by the Elite Racing Club, in whose familiar colours – black cap, white jacket with three large black spots – she raced and trained by Sir Mark Prescott at Heath House Stables in Newmarket, Suffolk, Marsha made her racecourse debut in a maiden stakes race, over 6 furlongs, at Kempton. 

Ridden by stable jockey Luke Morris, who would partner her to all her major successes, Marsha took a keen hold and kept on to finish second, beaten a length, behind Zhui Feng, who won the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions Median Auction Trophy at Newmarket on his next start. Just over two weeks later, though, Marsha readily won her maiden, over 6 furlongs, at Catterick and comfortably followed up in a small European Breeders’ Fund confined race, over 5 furlongs, at Dundalk, under Declan McDonogh, three weeks later. Two weeks later, she took on older horses in the Mercury Stakes, over the same course and distance but, having been short of room around the first bend, could only keep on to finish third, beaten 2¾ lengths, behind Take Cover. 

After a 204-day break, Marsha was beaten on her first two starts as a three-year-old, both over 6 furlongs, in a 0-105 handicap at Newmarket and the Group Three Ballyogan Stakes at the Curragh. However, thereafter, she was campaigned exclusively over the minimum trip and began to show the consistent, high-level form that would eventually see her fetch 6 million guineas (£6.3 million) – a European public auction record – at Tattersalls December Mare Sale at the end of her racing career.   

Marsha opened her account for the season with a facile victory in the Land O’Burns Fillies’ Stakes at Ayr, quickening clear on the bit in the closing stages to win readily by 2½ lengths. She followed up in the City Walls Stakes at York, beating Scurry Stakes winner Easton Angel by a neck, and consequently started 5/1 joint-favourite for the King George Stakes at Goodwood three weeks later. In the latter contest, she took keen hold in the early stages and, although staying on strongly in the final hundred yards, couldn’t quite reach the leaders and came off worst in a five-way photograph, beaten a neck, a head, a short head and a head. 

Nevertheless, after a six-week break, she was made an outright favourite, at 2/1, for the Prix du Petit Couvert at Chantilly. She finished a creditable second, but could never lay a glove on Just Glamorous, who made all the running to win, unchallenged, by 3 lengths. The following month, though, Marsha returned to Chantilly for her first attempt at Group One level, the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, run at northern French track during the redevelopment of Longchamp Racecourse. 

Sent off a just seventh choice of the 17 runners, at 16/1, behind the dual Nunthorpe Stakes winner, Mecca’s Angel, who headed the market at 6/4, Marsha tackled the favourite in the last 75 yards and was driven out by Luke Morris to win by three-quarters of a length. Washington DC finished second, with Mecca’s Angel a further short-head away in third place. 

On her reappearance the following May, Marsha beat Washington DC again, this time by a neck, in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket. She subsequently ran respectably in defeat in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, won by Lady Aurelia, the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, won by Caspian Prince, and the King George Stakes at Goodwood, won by Battaash, before crossing swords with Lady Aurelia again in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. 

Having her first race since Royal Ascot, and hitherto unbeaten over the minimum trip, Lady Aurelia unsurprisingly started odds-on, at 10/11, with Marsha joint-third favourite of the 13 runners at 8/1. Lady Aurelia broke quickly and, along with Take Cover, to the field along in the centre of the course, while Marsha tracked the leaders on the stands’ side. As Take Cover weakened approaching the furlong marker, Marsha set off in pursuit of the leader and, despite edging left in the closing stages, led on the line to win by a nose.