Friday, 14 June 2019

(Why Does My Blog Post Get 10 Page Views?)

I'm not sure what it is with this website. 

I keep uploading quality articles about horse racing but the page views are going lower than an Olympic limbo dancer. I dedicated the website to the Nunthorpe Stakes, thinking this is one of the greatest sprint races in Great Britain if not the world. Surely that would be of some interest? (Banging my head against the wall).  

In fact, I paid good money to get a number of articles written as I am busy working on other websites. 

Does it make much a difference? Not a lot from what I can see. 

I guess I will just have to pin my hopes on the day the Nunthorpe Stakes rears its beautifully-ugly head and see if the page view ramp up like a moment in the life of Evel Knievel [I always feel like writing Evil, for some strange reason]. Perhaps on the day of the race at York, page views will skyrocket to a point we have never seen before.  

I'm not holding my breath. 

I don't know about any other bloggers, but it can be pretty frustrating writing posts and seeing the number of readers dwindle like words are going out of fashion. Then you see some kid on YouTube removing a toy from a box and receiving a few million hits. 

Double frustration. 

I think with so many websites in their little niche that there is so much competition for the limited number of readers that even quality content isn't enough at times. 

Anyway, I'm not going anywhere and the articles, posts and scribblings will follow month by month. 

Bloody Nunthorpe. 

Thanks for reading. 

Share this post and we may hit 11-page view very soon. 

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Brian Yeardley Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes: History, Betting, Winners & Trends

Brian Yeardley Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes: History, Betting & Trends
Beverley has seen some exceptionally talented horses in its racing history which dates back to 1767. 

There must have been some outstanding two-year-olds which have started their careers or won significant races at this course. In this modern era, one filly which stands out in my mind. Think back to the 2003 Hilary Needler Trophy Conditions Stakes, trained by Mark Johnston. 

I'm sure many of you avid race fans will be shouting at me (not usually) that it is the beautiful, crooked-legged, Attraction, who went on to win the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. What a racehorse, hey. So few horses defy the odds of greatest success but she did so with conformation that would have had most running for the hills (only not as fast as this daughter of Efisio). 

That must be the longest introduction to a race she didn't even compete! Sometimes, we need to let the mind wander to thoughts of yesteryear in this hectic world that wishes for us to travel at the speed of light. 

Jungle Inthebungle Wins The Brian Yeardley 2018

''Which race goes with the Hilary Needler Trophy?'' I know many are saying it's the Brian Yeardley Two Year Old Trophy Condition Stakes.   

How right you are...
The Last 16 Brian Yeardley Stakes Winners 

           2018 Jungle Inthebungle - Mick Channon   - 8/1
           2017 Cardsharp         - Mark Johnston  - 6/4f
          *2016 Prince Of Lir      - Robert Cowell  - 6/1  
           2015 First Selection    - Simon Crisford - 3/1
           2014 I'm The Won For U  - David Barron   - 11/4f
           2013 Langavat           - Richard Hannon - 5/4f
           2012 Bungle Inthejungle - Mick Channon   - 7/2 
           2011 Gabrial            - Richard Fahey  - 6/5f 
           2010 Boundless Spirit   - Bryan Smart    - 4/1 
           2009 Archer's Road      - Mick Channon   - 9/4f
           2008 Able Master        - Bryan Smart    - 11/10f
           2007 Fred's Lad         - Mick Easterby  - 3/1
           2006 Everymanforhimself - James Givens   - 7/1
           2005 Mytton's Pride     - Alan Baily     - 7/1
           2004 Bolton Hall        - Richard Fahey  - 10/1 
           2003 Great Scott        - Mark Johnston  - 1/1f 

* Won on debut    

Brian Yeardley Trends

Perhaps the most remarkable trend is that in the last 16 years no winner has been priced over 10/1. Six favourites prevailed, the biggest odds 11/4. One debutante made it first time lucky - Prince Of Lir. Trainer James Givens and owners The Cool Silk Partnership have won the Hilary Needler Trophy with a debutante [Chica La Habana] so it is their modus operandi. A number of very talented two-year-olds have won the Brian Yeardley before going on to win at Group class. 

Class Performers

2012 Bungle Inthejungle - trained by Mick Channon. This son of Exceed And Excel run 17 times and achieved four wins. Competing in the Brian Yeardley Stakes on his third starts, only five two-year-olds took part and Bungle Inthejungle stayed on strongly to win by three-and-three-quarter lengths. All successes came at two. He on the Molecomb Stakes (Group 3) by a head at odds of 14/1. Similarly, winning the Cornwallis Stakes (Group 3) by a head - beating Garswood - to conclude a great formative season. He raced seven times at three and once at four before retiring to stud with a stallion fee of 12,000 euros. 

2017 Cardsharp - trained by Mark Johnston. Probably the best thoroughbred to win this race. He won the Brian Yeardley on his fourth start, staying on well at odds of 6/4f to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths. A very good juvenile who won on debut, the Woodcote Stakes (after De Bruyne Horse was disqualified). Headed to Royal Ascot where he was placed in the Norfolk Stakes (Group 3). Perhaps his best success was winning the July Stakes (Group 2) at Newmarket. Cardsharp concluded his two-year-old season finishing fifth in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Group 1). Racing at the highest grade at three saw a season without a victory. Unplaced in the 2,000 Guineas. Two wins came at the age of four. However, these were in handicaps. Cardsharp concluded his racing career with a comfortable win at York.   

3:15 Beverley (Saturday)

As always, it's a small field of just six two-year-old, and familiar trainers who target this race. All horses have racecourse experience and a competitive heat. 

1) 12  -  Oh Purple Reign - Richard Hannon -  9/4 
2) 1   -  Dream Show      - James Tate     -  4/1
3) 3   -  Summer Sands    - Richard Fahey  -  4/1
4) 12  -  Xcelente        - Mark Johnston  -  5/1
5) 2   -  Cool Sphere     - Robert Cowell  -  8/1 
6) 122 -  Rodnee Tee      - David O'Meara  - 10/1 

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

2019 Royal Ascot: Coventry Stakes Betting Odds

Royal Ascot 2019. 

The Coventry Stakes (Group 2) takes place on Tuesday 18th June. 

This Class 1 race is run over 6f. The race was established in 1890 after the 9th Earl of Coventry. However, this race was upgraded in 2004 to Group 2 status. It has been won by some exceptional horses. 

Always a supporter of the underdog, I have fond memories of Bill O'Grman's Mac's Imp who won in 1990. 

Last year saw John Gosden prevail with Calyx, ridden by Frankie Dettori. 

So what about this year: 2019 Coventry Stakes (Group 2).

Taking a quick look at Odds Checker, who have a few prices on offer. 

I have no idea about the Irish contenders which will be strong. Readers may remember that Caravaggio won the Coventry Stakes in 2016, for Aidan O'Brien. War Command won for Ballydoyle in 2013 with Seamie Heffernan in the saddle. 

Monarch Of Egypt hails from the mighty O'Brien stable, after winning comfortably at Naas back in April. This son of American Pharoah cost $750,000 at the yearling sales. Another major fancy from this stable is the twice-raced Arizona

Other rivals include Hurricane Ivor, who is a son of Ivawood, who is trained by F Chappet. A seven-and-half length winner at Chantilly, France.  

The British challengers are a little easier to assess. That is assessing from their perspective of winning rather than their merit of being the victor of the 2019 Coventry Stakes.

Richard Hannon (Senior) is no stranger to making the Coventry Stakes his own. The stable hit a purple patch in 2009/10 with Canford Cliffs and Strong Suit prevailing at the Berkshire racecourse. 

Hannon junior now holds the reigns these days and the stable always send a juvenile or two to compete in this pattern race. 

Cheveley Park Stud has a live prospect in Threat, who was something of a surprise package when winning well on debut at Newmarket. This son of Footstepsinthesand ran in a four-horse race and was made 10/1. This February foal ran out a tidy winner. However, there will be a lot more to prove to win the Coventry. Sure, this is a statement which can be attributed to most of the colts and fillies in this field. 

A couple of prospects I have noted are:

Bomb Proof. He ran out a fair winner at York on debut for Jeremy Noseda. This son of Society Rock cost 100,000 guineas is a good-looking type and I was impressed how he travelled throughout the race and was pushed out by Frankie Dettori to beat Monoski [trained by Mark Johnston] who won easily the second start and held in high regard by the stable. That initial race was over 5f and this step up to 6f trip should be positive. 

Another horse I like the look of is Ventura Rebel. Richard Fahey's son of Pastoral Pursuits got a slow start on debut at Thirsk but ran on well to steal a win. That win was decent but this juvenile caught the attention when running on with purpose at Ascot, beating Wesley Ward's Lady Pauline who was a 4/11f when running out of petrol in the closing furlong. Ventura Rebel should appreciate over 6f although with his strong finish over 5f it may be positive to stick to the shorter trip. 

Coventry Stakes 2019 Betting:

Monarch Of Egypt 5/1
Hurricane Ivor 7/1
Arizona 8/1
Threat 10/1
Pierre Lapin 10/1 
Ventura Rebel 16/1
Bomb Proof 20/1
Take a look at 2018 Coventry Stakes Winner

Monday, 27 May 2019

Dayjur: The Horse Who Jumped Shadows

The Mighty Dayjur
Think of a sprinter...

 A horse so fast it captured the attention of fans across the globe. A class act crowned a champion but still, to this day, assessed with a measure of hard luck for an act that saw him lose a race he should have won.

For those who love their sprinters, there is only one horse who comes to mind. 


He was born on the 6th February 1987. This American-bred son of Danzig out of a dam called Gold Beauty. Bred in Kentucky. Dayjur raced under the ownership of Sheikh Hamdan Al-Maktoum. An expensive yearling purchase for that decade costing $1.65M. Considering such an outstanding horse had total earnings of £327,280 it details his incredible price tag. 

The association of Dayjur went hand-in-hand with his trainer Major Dick Hern, who had been seriously injured in a hunting accident in 1984 which left him wheelchair bound. Both man and horse had a will of steel. 

This brown horse made his two-year-old debut at Newbury on the 15th June 1989. His reputation was tall - he started 8/15f. He won ''easily'' by a length. However, his second race at Listed class didn't go to plan when he was beaten by half a length at odds of 8/13f by Rushmoore, trained by Clive Brittain. 

At the end of the two-year-old season, he had a wind operation (to improve his breathing).

In a relatively short career of eleven races, his three-year-old season would be his last. 

However, this season would give him credit as one of the greatest sprinters of all time but, in the process, break the heart of his trainer and race fans around the world. 

Once again, Dayjur suffered disappointment on his return to racing in 1990. Major Dick Hern had him earmarked for 2000 Guineas (which proved to be a mistake). Racing over 7f in the European Free Handicap saw him disappointing to finish seventh of ten runners. 

Plans were quickly changing. 

Dayjur was dropped back to 6f and given a confidence-boosting run at Nottingham. However, he was beaten a head by Tod, at Newbury. 

At this stage, he looked far from a supreme talent. 

The Major hadn't lost faith. In fact, he entered Dayjur for the Temple Stakes at Sandown over the minimum trip of 5f. 

His jockey, Willie Carson, led from start to finish - winning by two lengths in good style. 

Now connections knew they had a serious horse on their hands and all illusions of him racing beyond sprint distances were forgotten.

In June, he won the King's Stand at Royal Ascot by two-and-a-half lengths although Major Hern was concerned about soft ground. The runner-up, Ron's Victory, was many lengths clear of the third and then went on to frank the form by winning the Diadem Stakes by ten lengths. 

Dayjur was made 8/11f to win the Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) racing over 5f at York. He won by an easy four lengths and achieved a course record of 56:16. The Racing Post comment stated: ''very impressive''. (The only horse to beat his time is Borderleescott  (56:09) in 2008.) 

The latter part of Dayjur's career was coming to a conclusion. A few races to add to his credentials as being a true sprinting legend. 

In September, connections decided to attempt six furlongs in the Ladbroke Sprint Cup at Haydock. It was a stiff race with highly-rated Dead Certain a major opponent. Could Dayjur last the extra furlong? 

He led from start to finish. Going clear at the two-furlong pole, he held the late challenge of Royal Academy to win by one and a half lengths. 

To boost the form, Royal Academy went on to win the Breeders' Cup Mile in the United States. 

Dayjur won his final race in Europe when beating four rivals in the Prix de l'abbaye at Longchamp, France. 

Winning, and being eased at the line, Dayjur appeared to jump a shadow cast across the course!

By this time Dayjur had been heralded a sprinting sensation. He would represent Europe by travelling to the United States of America to contest the 1990 Breeders' Cup Sprint, at Belmont Park. A wide draw made life difficult. However, a gutsy Dayjur contested the lead and then headed Safely Kept and looked to have the race sealed. In the closing strides of the race (heartbreaking) Dayjur saw a shadow cast across the track and jumped losing momentum. Then, unbelievably, jumped another shadow at the finishing line. He lost by a neck as the filly took advantage of his ill fate. 

Dayjur Bio: (6th February 1987 - 25 September 2013)

Race record: 

11 runs, 7 wins, 3 seconds and unplaced on one occasion


British Horse of the Year 1990
European Champion Sprinter 1990 

What are your memories of this great sprinter? 

Monday, 20 May 2019

Kingsgate Native Wins Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1)

Kingsgate Native Wins Nunthorpe Stakes
Foaled in Ireland on February 20, 2005, Kingsgate Native was sired by Mujadil, a prolific source of precocious, speedy types, out of Native Force, by high-class sprinter Indian Ridge. Owned by former bookmaker John Mayne and trained, initially, by John Best at Scragged Oak Farm in Hucking, near Maidstone, Kent, Kingsgate Native missed his intended racecourse debut twice, at Goodwood because of a passport irregularity and at York because of a waterlogged track, before connections decided to send him straight to the Windsor Castle Stakes, over 5 furlongs, at Royal Ascot. 

Ridden by George Baker, Kingsgate Native belied odds of 66/1 by finishing second of 20, beaten just a head, by Drawnfromthepast, trained by Jamie Osborne. Consequently, on his next start, in the Molecomb Stakes, also over 5 furlongs, at Goodwood the following month, he lined up as 4/1 second favourite behind 5/2 favourite, Starlit Sands, trained by Sir Mark Prescott, who’d been beaten just half a length in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot on her previous start. 

The field split and jockey George Baker, having initially headed for the far side, realised his mistake and belatedly switched to the stands’ side at halfway. Kingsgate Native disputed the lead inside the final furlong but, despite running on well in the closing stages, was held in the last 50 yards or so and beaten a neck by subsequent Cheveley Park Stakes runner-up Fleeting Spirit, trained by Jeremy Noseda. 

Despite still officially being a maiden, in August, Kingsgate Native was stepped up to Group One level in the Nunthorpe Stakes, again over 5 furlongs, at York. He was described by Timeform as a ‘strong, lengthy’ colt and was clearly precocious, so lacked nothing in terms of the size or maturity required to take on older horses at the early stage of his career. His connections were also, no doubt, tempted by the generous 24lb weight allowance offered to two-year-olds in the Nunthorpe Stakes. 

Carrying just 8st 1lb, and ridden for the first time by lightweight jockey Jimmy Quinn, Kingsgate Native was sent off 12/1 seventh choice of the 16 runners in the Nunthorpe Stakes behind 9/4 favourite Dandy Man. He took a keen hold in the early stages but, having chased the leaders, led in the centre of the course approaching the final furlong and, despite edging left in the closing stages, kept on strongly to beat Desert Lord by 1¾ lengths. In so doing, Kingsgate Native caused a considerable upset and became the first two-year-old to win the Nunthorpe Stakes since Lyric Fantasy in 1992. 

Having beaten the older sprinters, at the highest level, on just his third start, Kingsgate Native proved his Nunthorpe Stakes win was no fluke by finishing second, after missing the break, to Benbaun in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp on the final start of his two-year-old season in October and by winning the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot the following June. He subsequently ran in the Nunthorpe Stakes another five times, in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, but never won the race again. 

His best subsequent finish came in 2008, when he finished third, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Borderlescott in a rescheduled race run on the July Course at Newmarket. Indeed, in 2009, Kingsgate Native was bought by Cheveley Park Stud and retired from racing, but returned to training with Sir Michael Stoute after proving infertile. That year, he finished sixth, when favourite, behind Borderslescott again, in 2010 he finished sixth behind shock 100/1 winner Sole Power, in 2011 he finished fourth behind Margot Did and, in 2013, on his final attempt, when trained by Robert Cowell, he finished fifth behind lesser-fancied stable companion Jwala.

Related stories: Man Vs Horse (No contest) 

Tuesday, 14 May 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. 

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

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.