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Nunthorpe Stakes: Ten Sovereigns revved up for York speed test

Thu 22 Aug 2019

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Aidan O’Brien is in no doubt Ten Sovereigns possesses the speed for five furlongs ahead of Friday’s Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

Unbeaten during his juvenile campaign, which included the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, Ten Sovereigns began this season in the 2000 Guineas.

While he ran respectably, he subsequently dropped to six furlongs for the Commonwealth Cup, where he finished fourth to Advertise, before roaring back to his brilliant best in the July Cup, where the Classic generation dominated.

“We’ve no doubt about speed, he has loads of it, he shows that in his work and the clock shows that as well,” said O’Brien.

“We felt he learned a lot at Ascot in the three-year-old race and felt he’d progressed into the July Cup. That would have made him faster and sharper again and we were very happy with him in the July Cup.

“He’s in good form and seems to have come out of his last race really well. We’re looking forward to seeing him run.”

Graham Cunningham and Tom Stanley had a recent discussion about the Nunthorpe

His main danger is Charlie Hills’ mercurial Battaash, who is nigh on unbeatable at Goodwood but in the previous two renewals of this race has failed to run up to that form.

While the first time he got too worked up, last year he appeared to have no excuses in fourth.

“He was very good at Goodwood again. He’s very quick and tries to burn them off in the early part of a race, but he’s not always going to win,” said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

“I see no reason why York wouldn’t suit him. I can’t have the theory that he doesn’t act on the track.

“It’s not a track like Epsom, which some horses can’t take. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t handle it.

Michael Dods gave Niall Hannity the latest news on Mabs Cross

“It’s a very high-class race. Ten Sovereigns is a very good horse and there are plenty of other good ones in there.

“It will just be interesting to see how he gets on.”

Hills also runs Garrus, third in an Irish Group Two last time out.

Few would begrudge victory for Mabs Cross if she can give trainer Michael Dods a third win in the race in five years after Meccas Angel’s double.

Beaten just a pixel 12 months ago, she has been reunited with Gerald Mosse at the behest of the owners, with a return trip to France on the cards after she was successful in the Prix de l’Abbaye last season.

Dods said: “She’s gone in a bit under the radar this year, but obviously Ten Sovereigns and Battaash are going there in great form having won their last races.

“It will be interesting. She’s in good form so I’m just hoping for a good run.

“She’s got a score to settle after last year, being beaten a nose. She’s in good form, but the other two are in great form so it will be tough.

Copper Knight was a winner at the Dante meeting in May
Copper Knight was a winner at the Dante meeting in May

“Battaash just looks more relaxed to me this year. I watched him closely at Haydock and Ascot and on the TV at Goodwood and he’s definitely more relaxed than in the past.

“Ten Sovereigns was very impressive in the July Cup, so it will be interesting.”

Another Yorkshire trainer with a runner is Tim Easterby, who hopes Copper Knight can use his love of York to his advantage in a race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

“He’s in great form, loves the track and with a bit of luck he should finish in a place. He wasn’t fast enough (when well-held behind Battaash at Goodwood), although he didn’t act on the track very well,” said Easterby.

“I couldn’t tell you what it is that he likes so much about York. Some horses hate the place, some like it. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, but it’s a nice track to be effective at.

“Hamish McGonagall [who made the frame in the Nunthorpe on three occasions] was the same [as Copper Knight]. He used to love York but he couldn’t put up anything like the same performance at places like Ascot and Newmarket. I’ve no idea why.”

The Nunthorpe has delivered several shocks in recent years. Sole Power won at 100/1 in 2010 and a year later Margot Did prevailed at 20/1, while Jwala (40/1 in 2013) and Alpha Delphini (40/1 last year) are also on the Nunthorpe roll of honour.

Enjoy watching the past ten renewals of the Nunthorpe

Ornate is among those trading at a big price, despite getting to within three lengths of Battaash at Goodwood on his penultimate start.

David Griffiths, his trainer, said: “He’s under the radar a bit and a big price, which he was at Goodwood as well. For me there was no fluke about his run there, when he finished about three lengths behind a horse who is arguably the best sprinter in England.

“You can forget his Stewards’ Cup run the next day – he went far too fast – and he’s come out of it well. I think he will be even better next year but we are right where we want to be with him and you would think York, being a quick five, will play to his strengths.

“Some of his form ties in with the fancied horses and we will be there to pick up the pieces if they do not perform.”

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