I WAS at York on Wednesday to see the great Frankel strut his stuff over 10 furlongs for the first time and it was an experience I will never forget. He could win just about any race and if he was to line-up in this afternoon’s Nunthorpe Stakes (3.40pm), the next round of the QIPCO British Champions’ Series, I honestly think he would win.
Luckily for this afternoon’s runners, Frankel isn’t in the field, but it still looks to be a very hot renewal. Bated Breath is Coral’s 4/1 market leader and Roger Charlton’s runner is still seeking an elusive first Group One prize. The four-year-old was beaten a nose in last September’s Haydock Sprint Cup and was also runner-up in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. He needs quick ground to be seen at his best, so conditions are set to be perfect, and must have a favourite’s chance.
The Australian mare Ortensia is a proven Group One performer and bounced back to form at Goodwood last time. William Buick gave her a great ride that day and seems to have found the key to her in that she likes to be ridden away from the other runners and produced late. However, those tactics are difficult to implement on the Knavesmire and, although I’m sure she will finish with a rattle, the bird may well have flown.
I’m hoping that bird is SOLE POWER who has to go down as one of the unluckiest horses around. Eddie Lynam’s stable star won this race two years ago when an unfancied 100/1 shot, but he has since proven that performance was no flash in the pan. He won the 2011 Temple Stakes and although that was his last victory, he has since been placed in the Prix de l’Abbaye, Al Quoz Sprint, Temple Stakes and King’s Stand.
He is another that needs quick ground to show his best form and, while there is little between him, Bated Breath and Ortensia on form, he has the best course record and is worth backing at a general 11/2.
The Convivial (4.15pm) is always one of the hottest maidens of the season and Richard Hannon’s Wentworth is sure to start favourite following a promising run at Goodwood. He suffered a terrible passage that day but Richard Hughes looked after him and he will be strongly fancied to make amends this afternoon.
However, the word from Lambourn is that Charlie Hills’ MARKET TOWN could be very special indeed and he looks a decent each-way alternative to the Hannon hotpot.
Frankel is likely to make his final ever appearance at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions’ Day, so make sure you get your tickets now by calling 0844 346 3000 or visiting www.britishchampionsseries.com.
SOLE POWER e/w 3.40pm York (today)
MARKET TOWN e/w 4.15pm York (today)