Saturday, 13 April 2019

Mecca’s Angel Nunthorpe Stakes Winner

Nunthorpe Stakes Winner
Foaled on February 11, 2011, Mecca’s Angel was a daughter of Dark Angel, a leading sire of sprinters, out of a mare by Atraf, another high-class sprinter, so was always destined to campaign over short distances. Indeed, between May 2013 and October 2016, Mecca’s Angel ran in a total of twenty races, all bar three of them over the minimum distance of 5 furlongs and the others over 5½ and 6 furlongs. All in all, she won ten times, including the Group Three World Trophy at Newbury, Group Three Prix de Saint-Georges at Longchamp, Group Two Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh and, most notably, successive renewals of the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York, in 2015 and 2016. All of her wins came over 5 furlongs and she amassed just shy of £680,000 in win and place prize money.

Owned by David “Mecca” Metcalfe and trained by Michael Dods in Denton, Co. Durham, Mecca’s Angel made a bright start to her career, winning her maiden at Hamilton in June, 2013, at the second time of asking, and following up, by 12 lengths, in a minor handicap on the Fibresand surface at Southwell just over two weeks later. Raised 17lb in the weights for her Southwell romp, she was subsequently beaten favourite, although second on both occasions, in the Julia Graves Roses Stakes at York and Blah Blah Stakes at Haydock, before finishing fourth of 23 in the Two-Year-Old-Trophy at Redcar on her first attempt over 6 furlongs. 

On her first two starts as a three-year-old, Mecca’s Angel was the impressive winner of handicaps at Thirsk and Hamilton, prompting a further 10lb rise in the weights, before being raised in class and distance for the Prix Texanita at Longchamp in May. She was a beaten favourite, once again, in the latter contest but, after four months off, returned to record her first Listed and Pattern race successes at Doncaster and Newbury, respectively.  

Her four-year-old campaign was restricted to just three starts, of which the highlight was, unquestionably, her 2-length defeat of Queen Mary Stakes winner, Acapulco, who was receiving 24lb, on her first attempt in Group One company in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Indeed, that effort was only bettered by her performance in the same race the following year, in which she not only beat the July Cup winner Limato by 2 lengths but came within a whisker of breaking the course record set by Dayjur – once dubbed ‘the fastest horse in the world’ by the Racing Post – in 1990. 

The following October, Mecca’s Angel started 6/4 favourite for the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp but, having taken the lead inside the final two furlongs, weakened close home to finish third, beaten just three-quarters of a length, behind Marsha. Following her final race, the British Champions Sprint at Ascot in October 2016, in which she finished only twelfth of thirteen, beaten 12 lengths, behind The Tin Man, Mecca’s Angel was retired from racing and subsequently sold, privately, for an undisclosed fee.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Nunthorpe Stakes 2013: Jwala

Nunthorpe Stakes 2013: Jwala
The Nunthorpe Stakes, a Group One race run over five furlongs at York, is one of just two races of its kind in the British racing calendar. Group One races rarely produce winners at huge odds but, since 2010, the winner of the Nunthorpe Stakes has been returned at 40/1 (twice) and 100/1. The perfectly flat five-furlong course at York – the course record is just 2.47 seconds outside the world record for the minimum distance – invariably produces a fast and furious contest, in which missing the break is not an option, which may account, at least in part, for the frequency of ‘shock’ winners in recent year. 

In any event, one major upset came in 2013, courtesy of Jwala, a hitherto unheralded four-year-old mare, who was making her debut at Group One level. Bred and owned, in part, by Manor Farm Stud, in Oakham, Rutland, Jwala was trained by Robert Cowell, at Bottishead Stud in Six Mile Bottom, near Newmarket, Suffolk. In her early days, Jwala was a fair, if unspectacular, sprinter. She comfortably won her maiden, over 5 furlongs, at Wolverhampton in December, 2011, at the fifth time of asking and, after a 198-day break, subsequently won handicaps at Bath and Goodwood on her first two starts as a three-year-old. 

Jwala was restricted to just three starts in 2012, but in September that year made her debut in Listed company, finishing second, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Sole Power in the Scarborough Stakes at Doncaster. Notwithstanding finishing last of seven in a minor conditions stakes race at Chester, in which she was drawn on the wide outside, Jwala continued to run creditably in defeat in Listed company in the early part of 2013. She didn’t win again until July when, perhaps tellingly, she led near the finish to beat Heeraat by a neck in the City Walls Stakes, over the same course and distance as the Nunthorpe Stakes. 

On her next start, the following month, Jwala made her debut at Pattern level, in the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood. A largely unconsidered 20/1 chance in any case, she fractured an eye socket leaving the stalls and, unsurprisingly, faded inside the final furlong to finish last of the seventeen runners, beaten 10 lengths. Undaunted, three weeks later, connections stepped her up in class again for the Nunthorpe Stakes, for which she was sent off only joint-thirteenth choice of the seventeen runners at 40/1. 

However, on ground softened by just short of three-quarters of an inch of rainfall overnight, Jwala was in her element. Under a well-judged ride by jockey Steve Drowne, she was always in the front rank and, when sent for home entering the final furlong, never looked like being caught. Market leaders Shea Shea and Sole Power both finished strongly, but Jwala held on well in the closing stages to win by half a length and a nose. In so doing, she provided a welcome fillip for Drowne, who had missed most of the previous season after suffering what was originally described as an ‘undiagnosed seizure’ – subsequently diagnosed as a heart virus – which led to the withdrawal of his driving licence, without which he could not be insured to ride. 

Jwala proved her Nunthorpe Stakes win was no fluke by finishing fourth, beaten just 1¾ lengths, in the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in October, but her story did not end happily. In December, on what was intended to be her final start before retirement, she contested the Hong Kong Sprint, over 6 furlongs, at Sha Tin. She was weakening when squeezed out between rivals and falling, fatally, in the closing stages. Steve Drowne was carried from the course on a stretcher and hospitalised with a fractured collarbone and a punctured lung.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Big Race History: Nunthorpe Stakes 2018: Alpha Delphini

Alpha Delphini edges Mabs Cross in epic finish to Nunthorpe at York
The Nunthorpe Stakes was inaugurated in 1922 and over the years developed a reputation as a punter-friendly race, which was rarely, if ever, won by an outsider. Indeed, Bahamian Pirate, who won the Nunthorpe Stakes at 16/1 in 2004, was just the fourth winner since World War II to be returned at odds longer than 14/1. However, in a decade-and-a-half since, the Nunthorpe Stakes has been won by Sole Power at 100/1 in 2010, Margot Did at 20/1 in 2011, Jwala at 40/1 in 2013 and, most recently, Alpha Delphini at 40/1 in 2018, so the tide has turned, inexorably, in favour of the layers. 

That said, Alpha Delphini was tipped, in some quarters, as an outsider likely to outperform his huge starting price, so it can be argued that, perhaps, he should not have been a 40/1 chance in the first place. Having finished eighth of eleven behind Marsha, on good going, in the Nunthorpe Stakes in 2017, Alpha Delphini lined up for the 2018 renewal arguably in the form of his life. On his three previous starts he had been beaten three-quarters of a length, a short head and a head when placed in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket, the Achilles Stakes at Haydock and the City Walls Stakes at York. As a horse that liked to race on, or close to, the early pace, the good to firm going on the Knavesmire was also in his favour. 

Of course, his inflated starting price was also due, in no small part to the presence of Battaash, the highest-rated horse in training, according to Timeform, and hot favourite for the Nunthorpe Stakes at 4/5. Interestingly, in 2017, as a three-year-old, Battaash had been beaten in the Nunthorpe Stakes between winning the King George Stakes at Goodwood and the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp but, having won the former contest again, impressively, in 2018, was all the rage at York once more. 

Officially, Alpha Delphini was rated 19lb inferior to Battaash which, according to the pounds-per-length conversion used by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), meant that he had a little over 6 lengths to find with the market leader. However, as was customary, Alpha Delphini raced close up in the centre of the 15-strong field and was driven into the lead by jockey Graham Lee in the last hundred yards or so. Despite edging left close home, he held on gamely to beat the rallying Mabs Cross by the narrowest margin possible, a nose. Battaash, who had raced prominently on the stands’ side, led the field with a furlong-and-a-half to run, but could only keep on at one pace once headed and eventually finished fourth, beaten 2½ lengths.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Ortensia Wins the Nunthorpe Stakes in 2012

Ortensia wins Nunthorpe stakes at York (2102)
Foaled in Australia on September 16, 2005, Ortensia was a daughter of multiple Grade-One winning Australian sprinter Testa Rossa. Owned by an ownership group headed by Alistair Fraser and trained, initially, by Tony Noonan in Mornington, Victoria, Ortensia won eight races in her native country as two-, three- and four-year-old and was first past the post in the James Boag Galaxy at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, New South Wales, only to be subsequently disqualified after a banned substance was found in her urine sample. 

Consequently, it was not until the age of six, having been transferred to Paul Mesara in Scone, New South Wales, that Ortensia recorded her first legitimate Grade One victory. That victory came in the newly-upgraded Winterbottom Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at Ascot Racecourse in Perth, Western Australia in November 2011. Ortensia had actually won the Winterbottom Stakes before, but her previous victory, as a four-year-old, in 2009 came at a time when the race was still a Grade Two contest. 

Ortensia was subsequently prepared for an international campaign, which began at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates the following March. In the Group One Al Quoz Sprint, she was sent off 6/1 joint-second favourite behind Sole Power but, having made smooth progress from the rear with two furlongs to run, led inside the final half a furlong to win by 1¼ lengths. 

For the remainder of 2012, Ortensia was campaigned exclusively in Britain, starting with the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. On her first start for 80 days, Ortensia was sent off 9/2 joint-favourite but weakened inside the final furlong to finish ninth of 22, beaten 6¾ lengths, behind Little Bridge. She was again fancied for the July Cup at Newmarket the following month when ridden for the first time by William Buick, she started 7/1 fourth favourite but again weakened in the final furlong to finish fourth of twelve, beaten 8¼ lengths, behind Mayson. 

The following month, Buick was aboard again when Ortensia was dropped back to the minimum trip in the King George Stakes at Goodwood and steered her to her first success on British soil. Having raced towards the centre of the course in the stands’ side group, Ortensia made good headway from the rear of the field with over a furlong to run, led inside the final furlong and ran on strongly to beat Spirit Quartz by 1¼ lengths with Masamah a further half a length back in third. Having justified joint-favouritism at Goodwood, Ortensia also started joint-favourite, alongside King’s Stand Stakes runner-up, Bated Breath, at 7/2, for her next appearance, in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York

However, it was her old rival Spirit Quartz who gave her most to do, leading inside the final hundred yards before Ortensia, who looked to have a hopeless task at halfway, burst through on the far side rail to snatch the spoils by a neck in a thrilling finish. Hamish McGonagall, who’d been runner-up in 2011, finished third beaten a further 1¼ lengths after setting a strong pace. 

Following her return to Australia, Ortensia ran just twice as a seven-year-old, finishing eleventh of 13, beaten 4¼ lengths, in the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield and twelfth of 13, beaten 10¼ lengths, in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington. Nevertheless, at the end of her career, she had won 13 of her 37 starts – including Group One contests in three different countries – and over £1.4 million in total prize money.

Watch Ortensia win the Nunthorpe Stakes 2012 at York 

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.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Which Horse Recorded the Fastest Grand National Win?

Embed from Getty Images

Here at sprinters to go, we are all about speed.

For the most part, this blog is dedicated to thoroughbred sprint horses - specifically the Nunthorpe Stakes, which is run over the flying five furlongs at York's Knavesmire. The fastest horse to win this Group 1 race was Borderlescott, trained by Robin Bastiman. He won in a time of 56:09s. 

As the saying goes: ''speed is relative''. Linford Christie, UK Olympic sprint champion in 1992, was fast but compared to Borderlescott - even over 100 metres - he was pretty damn ''slow''. 

Let's consider the Grand National. Not a race for sprint horses. It's a four-mile three-and-a-half furlong slog. The great sprinter Dayjur struggles with jumping shadows so heaven knows what he would have thought about a ten-foot fence in his path with Captain Becher pocking his head over the top smiling like a Cheshire cat. 

But even in the slowest, toughest, hardest races, there is one horse who, although slow, is fast as a snake down a hole, when it comes to the Grand National Steeplechase.

If you are horse racing quizzer you will know the answer to this question in the time it takes to say: ''National Sweepstake''.

The appropriately named Mr Frisk achieved a record-breaking time in the national back in 1990. Trained by Kim Bailey, ridden by Marcus Armytage, he finished in 8m 47.8s. That record has stood the test of time even though in 2013 the distance of the race was shortened by over 300 metres. Many punters returned home with cash-laden pockets after the 16/1 shot. However, it was a fight to the line as Durham Addition lost by just three-quarters of a length, some twenty lengths clear of the third, Rinus. 

Mr Frisk, a son of Bivouac out of the mare Jenny Frisk was a popular horse after achieving this honoured mantle trumping the likes of Red Rum. 

This fast chestnut gelding pulled up when competing for the next year on good to soft going. That was a telling point. In 1990, the ground was firm, which even in the good old days where health and safety sat somewhere at the back of the grandstand, it wasn't the norm. Many pundits have reflected upon his record as a matter of circumstance as it was talent. 

In these modern days, it would seem unlikely a horse will ever threaten the time of Mr Frisk. The going conditions and routine watering of courses to make them safe means firm ground on the national course simply couldn't happen in this modern era. 

Mr Frisk, the winner of nine of his twenty-five National Hunt races, is odds-on to remain the fast of them all.  

Monday, 4 February 2019

Bahamian Pirate Wins Nunthorpe Stakes Group 1

Embed from Getty Images Foaled in Kentucky on March 3, 1995, Bahamian Pirate was a son of Housebuster, who won the Eclipse Award for Male Sprinter in 1990 and 1991, and is the horse for whom his sire is best known in Europe. Owned by Lucayan Stud, under the auspices of the late Edward St. George, in whose famous black-and-white colours he ran, Bahamian Pirate began his racing career, as a three-year-old, with the late Con Collins at Conyngham Lodge Stables in Maddenstown, Co. Kildare, Ireland. 

However, after two unplaced runs, over 7 furlongs and a mile, Bahamian Pirate was transferred to the late David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls, a.k.a. ‘The Sprint King’, at Tall Trees Farm in Sessay, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire. Even so, it was over a year, and half a dozen runs, later that Bahamian Pirate broke his duck, making virtually all to win a maiden stakes race, over 5 furlongs, at Ripon under Nicholls’ wife, Alex Greaves, despite hanging right from halfway. 

Bahamian Pirate wasn’t seen again until May, 2000 and, although finishing only twelfth of 24, beaten 6¼ lengths, on his handicap debut, over 5 furlongs, at Thirsk, apprentice Clare Roche was suspended for eight days for making ‘insufficient effort’. Six days later, under Nicholls’ son, Adrian – at that time, himself still an apprentice – Bahamian Pirate won a lower grade handicap, over 6 furlongs, at Carlisle. Indeed, that year proved to be the most successful, numerically, of his career, with four more wins, including the Ayr Gold Cup and the Bentinck Stakes at Newmarket. 

Thereafter, though, Bahamian Pirate was campaigned almost exclusively in Listed and Pattern company for the next three seasons and, while he suffered a few agonising ‘near misses’ – he was second in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2001 and second in the July Cup, behind stable companion Continent, in 2002 – he won just one race in that period. His sole success came, by a short head, in the Phoenix Sprint Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at Leopardstown in August, 2001, and was followed by a 26-race losing streak that would last until he made his seasonal debut, as a nine-year-old, in March 2004. 

Nevertheless, on his return from a 178-day break, Bahamian Pirate demonstrated his well-being by winning a small conditions race – in which he was, very much, favoured by the race conditions – over 5 furlongs at Nottingham. He again failed to make impression in Listed and Pattern company, but did win two more small conditions races, both over 5 furlongs, at Beverley and Newmarket, in May and July, respectively. In fact, on the latter occasion, he beat the 115-rated three-year-old, Balmont, who’d finished third in the July Cup on his previous outing, to whom he was conceding 8lb. 

The pair met again in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York but, despite being 6lb worse off for the neck he finished behind Bahamian Pirate at Newmarket, Balmont remained the better fancied, at 13/2 joint-fourth favourite, with Nicholls’ veteran only eighth choice of the twelve runners at 16/1. Nevertheless, in the hands of Seb Sanders, who was riding him for the first time, Bahamian Pirate stayed on well to lead inside the final furlong and was driven out to win by a neck from The Tatling with the strong-finishing favourite, One Cool Cat, a further length away in third place. In so doing, he not only provided Nicholls with his second win in the Nunthorpe Stakes – after Ya Malak dead-heated with Coastal Bluff in 1997 – but became the oldest winner of a Group One race in Britain.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Pocket Rocket Lyric Fantasy Wins Nunthorpe Stakes 1992

Nunthorpe Winner Lyric Fantasy
Foaled in Co. Cork, Ireland on January 30, 1990, Lyric Fantasy was a daughter of Tate Gallery – a full-brother to the exceptional sire Sadler’s Wells – and named, quite cleverly, after an unfinished mural by Augustus John that is housed in the Millbank institution. Bought for just 12,500 guineas as a yearling by the late Lord Carnarvon, Lyric Fantasy was trained by Richard Hannon Snr. and ridden, throughout her two-year-old campaign, by Michael ‘Muis’ Roberts. 

A small, nay tiny, filly, who stood a little over 14 hand high, Lyric Fantasy was clearly precocious and became known as the ‘Pocket Rocket’. She made her racecourse debut in the Lady Caroline Stakes, over 5 furlongs, at Windsor on April 27, 1992 and, although she had to be hard ridden in the closing stages, ran on to beat previous winner Ancestral Dancer by half a length. 

With that experience under her belt, the following month she was stepped up in class in the National Stakes, also over 5 furlongs, at Sandown. She met Ancestral Dancer again, on 5lb worse terms than at Windsor, and three other rivals, but quickened clear in the closing stages to win by 6 lengths. On her next start, Lyric Fantasy was stepped up in class again, in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot. Sent off 11/8 favourite, not only did she make all the running for an impressive 5-length win but, in so doing, recorded a time of 59.72 seconds, a course record for her age group.   

Consequently, the Newbury Sales Super Sprint Trophy – now the Weatherbys Super Sprint – in which horses are handicapped according to their purchase price as a yearling, looked hers for the taking. Despite Hannon expressing misgivings about her ability to act on rain-softened ground, Lyric Fantasy was sent off 2/5 favourite to maintain her unbeaten record and duly obliged, making most of the running and winning easily by 6 lengths. 

Her next appearance was in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August, in which, as a juvenile filly taking on older horses, she received a colossal weight allowance of 27lb. She was due to carry just 7st 7lb, but Lord Carnarvon ‘allowed’ Roberts – whose usual lowest riding weight was 7st 13lb – to put up 1lb overweight at 7st 8lb. Testament to the impact made by Lyric Fantasy in her juvenile season was the fact that, at York, she was sent off 8/11 favourite ahead of the July Cup winner, Mr. Brooks, also trained by Hannon. 

In any event, ridden with a little more restraint than was customary, Lyric Fantasy led two furlongs out and ran on strongly to beat her stable companion by half a length. In so doing, she became the first juvenile since Ennis, in 1956, to win the Nunthorpe Stakes and the first juvenile filly to do so. Although she achieved a Timeform Annual Rating of ‘just’ 113 when winning the Nunthorpe Stakes, Lyric Fantasy was, unsurprisingly, named Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly for 1992. 

Her two-year-old campaign ended in a 2-length defeat by Sayyedati, when stepped up to 6 furlongs for the first time, in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in September and, although she was subsequently sold to John Magnier for 340,000 guineas, Lyric Fantasy didn’t train on as a three-year-old. On her reappearance in April, 1993, she finished only sixth of 12, beaten 3 lengths, behind Sayyedati in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and, although she won the Charlotte Fillies Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at the same course the following month, she finished seventh of eight, beaten 13½ lengths, in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and last of eleven, beaten 14 lengths, in the Nunthorpe Stakes.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

La Cucaracha Wins Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1)

Embed from Getty Images Foaled on March 26, 2001, La Cucaracha – Spanish for ‘Cockroach’ – was a daughter of high-class sprinter Piccolo, who finished second, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Blue Siren in the Nunthorpe Stakes in 1994, but was awarded the race in the stewards’ room. La Cucaracha would win the Nunthorpe Stakes, too, as a four-year-old, in 2005, but the fact that she was still in training at that stage of her career, never mind winning a Group One race, owed much to the skill of her trainer, Barry Hills. 

Bred and owned by the late Guy Reed, in whose recognisable colours –gold and black check, pink sleeves and cap – she raced, La Cucaracha was, like many of the progeny of Piccolo, a fast, precocious juvenile. She made her racecourse debut in a lowly median auction maiden stakes race, over 5 furlongs, at Leicester in April, 2003, which she won, easily, by 5 lengths, from the odds-on favourite Fine Silver. Stepped up in class in a fillies’ conditions stakes race at Newbury, also over the minimum trip, the following month she comfortably landed odds of 1/2. 

Thereafter, though, her career was plagued by injury and she wasn’t seen again until 347 days later in April, 2004. Indeed, her entire three-year-old campaign consisted of just three starts in Listed company in April and May – on all of which she ran well, without winning – before she was off the course again, for a further 313 days, until April, 2005. 

However, despite being restricted to three starts in the better part of two calendar years, she made a winning reappearance in the Cammidge Trophy, over 6 furlongs, at Doncaster. The following month, La Cucaracha was stepped up to Group company for the first time in the Duke of York Stakes, again over 6 furlongs, at York. On her one and only outing on soft going, she weakened well over a furlong out, eventually finishing ninth of 11, beaten 5 lengths, behind The Kiddykid, whom she’d beaten half a length, on 2lb better terms, in the Cammidge Trophy. 

Nevertheless, La Cucaracha won her first Group race, the Ballyogan Stakes at the Curragh, on her very next start and, although subsequently only second in the Summer Stakes at York, she also won the Sky Bet Dash, over the same 6 furlongs on the Knavesmire, off top weight of 9st 10lb. Now rated 110, having officially improved by 12lb since the start of the season, she faced her toughest task so far, the Nunthorpe Stakes, over the fast, flat 5-furlong course at York. 

Despite tackling Group One opposition for the first time and her three wins that season having come over 6 furlongs, she was sent off 7/1 fourth-favourite behind Chineur, who had won the King’s Stand Stakes – run over the same course and distance as the Nunthorpe Stakes that year, during the redevelopment of Ascot Racecourse – on his most recent outing in June. Drawn in stall eight of 16, La Cucaracha was held up in midfield before quickening to lead inside the final and holding on for a narrow victory. At the line, just a neck separated her from The Tatling, whose task was made no easier by a slipping saddle, with Majestic Missile, who was hampered close home, a further length away in third. Her victory, albeit narrow, was the first at Group One level for prolific owner-breeder Guy Reed, after nearly 40 years’ involvement in British horse racing.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Betting 101: Understanding How to Bet on the Belmont Stakes Race

Belmont Stakes 150 Years (June 7-9) New to horse racing and is looking to get already started for this year’s Belmont Stakes Race? No need to worry! For this article will provide you the information you need for this year’s race and would help you understand the Belmont Stakes Race’s betting in a jiffy. 

Starting with introductions, the Belmont Stakes Race which is also dubbed as the “Test of the Champions” is an American Grade I stake Thoroughbred horse race, and is the third jewel of the Triple Crown race which is contested at the Belmont Park at a distance of 12 furlongs (1 ½ miles) on dirt. Sounds like a fun event, right? Then bet your heart out by understanding the race’s betting system by reading up ahead. 

Different Horse Race Betting Options

To start understanding how the betting of Belmont Stakes works, you should first know that there are different betting options available for you. Knowing what kind of bet you’d do would help you sort out your wagers that you will be doing in the future and shape out the strategies that you will be making in order to win almost any bet that you’ll do. 

Straight Bets 

Straight bets are the simplest form of bets that you can place if you are betting on a horse race. This bet just simply means that you are betting on a single horse that would do one good thing for you. Now, the straight bet refers to three types of wagering: win, place, and show. So, what do these three wagers mean? 


A “win” wager may be the simplest of the three since it is a type of a straight bet wherein you just simply pick out the horse that you think will win the race. Well, you probably already know what would happen if the horse you’ve bet on win, right? ¬¬ —if the horse wins, you win. 


A “place” is a wager which you usually pay less than the win bet for the reason of improving your odds. How come? Well, for this wager, you get to choose a horse which you think will win in the first or second place. Not bad, right? 


If the place is a wager that lets you choose a horse that might win the first or second place, then the wager “show” is a bet wherein you wager on a horse that you think will place on either first, second, or third place. 

In addition, you might want to consider another type of wager which is called “Across the Board”. This wager is a great way for beginners like you to tackle this event. Also, this is an easy way to say that you choose a horse to finish in any of the first three places. 

Basically, you wage on the three straight bet wages. For example, 2 dollars to win, another 2 dollars to place, and another 2 dollars to show. Now, if the horse wins, then you’ll win on all three wagers. However, if the horse comes second, then you’ll cash on the place and show. If the horse you’ve waged on comes in third, then you’ll just collect on the show. 


The exotic horse racing betting is when you place a wager on more than one outcome. Meaning, it is the idea wherein one gets to choose more than one occurrence on a single bet slip, it could be betting on the victors of more than one horse race, or betting on the consecutive finishers of one sole horse race. 

If all of your picks come correctly, in the way you have chosen, then you win the exotic bet. However, if it’s not the case, then you lose. Now, if there’s only a portion of your picks that have succeeded, but one or more failed, then the bet is lost. 


This form of an exotic wage wherein you must accurately pick the horses that will come in first and second. Quiniella is a type of wager wherein the horse you chose can either finish in first or second place and still win. 


A form of an exotic wage which is almost similar to Quiniella. Wherein the only difference is that you should pick the top two finishing horses in exact order. Due to its slight difficulty, the wager pays better than the Quiniella. 


Ready to tackle some more complex bets? Then try this type of wager. This kind of exotic bet is the selection of the first, second, and third place in correct and exact order. This type of wag is popular because even a small wager can result in a big payoff due to its difficulty. 


This type of an exotic bet is like a level-up betting of Trifecta wherein you should exactly pick out who’ll place in first, second, and superfecta, you are required to pick out the first four finishing horses in their exact order of finish. 


Surely this information should help you out since as a budding horse racing enthusiast, it is important for you to know and understand the ways in betting on horse racing so that you will be able to enjoy the event to the fullest and be smart about the wages you make.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Margot Did Wins Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1)

Margot Did Wins Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1)
Foaled in Ireland on March 17, 2008, Margot Did was a daughter of top-class Australian sprinter Exceed And Excel and proved to be a precocious, smart, if rather unlucky, two-year-old. Owned by Peter Phillip and Tim Redman, trained by Martin Bell at Fitzroy House in Newmarket and ridden, almost exclusively, by Hayley Turner, Margot Did won her maiden, over 6 furlongs, at Newbury at the first time of asking in May, 2010, and followed up, in effortless fashion, in a novice stakes race at Yarmouth ten days later. 

The following month she was stepped up in class in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, in which she was beaten a head, and so began a series of agonising near-misses over 6 furlongs in Pattern and Listed company. She was beaten half a length in the Princess Margaret Stakes, also at Ascot, in July, three-quarters of a length in the Lowther Stakes at York, in August, and a nose and a neck in the Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury, in September. On the final start of her two-year-old campaign, on her first attempt at Group One level, she finished fifth of 11, beaten 6¾ lengths, behind Hooray, who had beaten her in the Lowther Stakes. 

On her reappearance in April, 2009, Margot Did was again narrowly beaten, this time by a neck and half a length, in the Pavilion Stakes, again over 6 furlongs at Ascot. She attempted 5 furlongs for the first time on her next start, in a conditions stakes race at York in May and, despite a slipping saddle, finished a never-nearer fourth, beaten half a length, a head and a neck, behind odds-on favourite Night Carnation. 

Thereafter, a change of tactics saw Margot Did ridden more prominently over the minimum trip and she won her next two starts, the Scurry Stakes at Sandown, by 5 lengths, and the Land O’Burns Fillies’ Stakes at Ayr, by a neck. Stepped back up to Group level, in the Sprint Stakes, also at Sandown, in July, she met Night Carnation on the same terms as at York but, having chased the leaders, faded inside the final furlong to finish fourth, beaten 4 lengths, behind her old rival. 

Nevertheless, Margot Did next lined up in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, for which she started 20/1 co-eighth choice of the 15 runners behind 11/4 favourite Hoof It, who’d readily won the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood under 10st on his previous outing. Once again ridden prominently, she took the overall lead on the stands’ side approaching the final furlong and kept on strongly to win by three-quarters of a length. Hamish McGonagall, who’d taken the stands’ side group along, finished second, with Prohibit, who’d tracked the leader on the far side, a further half a length away in third place. 

The victory was the second at Group One level for Hayley Turner, who’d already won the July Cup on Dream Ahead, and the second for a lady jockey in the Nunthorpe Stakes, after Alex Greaves dead-heated on Ya Malak in 1997. Sadly, Margot Did never won again, finishing last of 15, beaten 13½ lengths, in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp on the final start of her three-year-old campaign and failing to trouble the judge in five starts as a four-year-old before she was retired from racing in July, 2012.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Sole Power Double Jubilant In The Nunthorpe Stakes For Edward Lynam

Sole Power Double Jubilant In The Nunthorpe Stakes For Edward Lynam
If ever one horse was genetically predisposed to win one race that horse was Sole Power and that race was the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, although, just for good measure, he won the prestigious 5-furlong contest not once, but twice, in 2010 and 2014. Foaled on March 18, 2007, Sole Power was sired by Kyllachy, who won the Nunthorpe Stakes for Henry Candy in 2002 and was, in turn, sired by Pivotal, who won the Nunthorpe Stakes for Sir Mark Prescott in 1996. He was owned by Mrs. Sabine Power and trained by Edward Lynam in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath. 

Destiny or not, his first victory, as a completely unconsidered 100/1 outsider, over a field that contained Kingsgate Native and Borderlescott, winners of the last three renewals, and Staspangledbanner, winner of the Golden Jubilee Stakes and the July Cup – to name but three of his 11 illustrious rivals – sent a shock wave of major proportions through the racing world. 

Prior to the Nunthorpe Stakes, his best performance in a Pattern race had come on the second start of his three-year-old campaign, when fourth of 12, beaten 2½ lengths, behind Equiano – who was also in the Nunthorpe field – in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket, when ridden by Wayne Lordan. On that occasion, Sole Power was ridden prominently but, at York, a change of tactics brought about a dramatic change of fortune. As would become his customary style of racing thereafter, he was, for the first time, held up, before unleashing a single, withering burst of acceleration in the closing stages to win decisively by 1¼ lengths from Starspangledbanner. 

Sole Power ran in the Nunthorpe Stakes in five of the next six years before he was retired from racing, at the age of ten, in March, 2017, on his return from a short, but unsuccessful stint in Dubai. He missed the race in 2011, when connections preferred the Group Three Flying Five Stakes, on home soil, at the Curragh – in which he was beaten, anyway – but finished seventh to Ortensia in 2012, third to Jwala, beaten half a length a nose, in 2013, fourth to Mecca’s Angel in 2015 and eighth to the same horse in 2016. 

However, in 2014, despite suffering from a skin infection that limited him to just four appearances on British soil, Sole Power was at the top of his game. He won the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket under Ryan Moore and the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot – for the second time – under Richard Hughes en route to his fourth crack at the Nunthorpe Stakes in five years. 

Ridden, once again, by Richard Hughes, he unsurprisingly started favourite, at 11/4, to land his second renewal, but had things far from all his own way. Held up, as usual, he was switched to challenge on the stands’ side over a furlong out, but denied a clear run and switched back to the centre of the course inside the final furlong, before quickening through a gap between horses close home to win by half a length. Stepper Point finished second, as he’d done in the King’s Stand Stakes, while the next seven horses home, headed by Sprint Stakes winner Extortionist, all finished within 2 lengths of the winner.