IN FLAT racing we become used to the big trainers, jockeys and owners celebrating the top level wins week in week out.
However, one exception is this afternoon’s Group One Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (3.35pm), which has seen its fair share of success for the smaller yards over the years.
This five furlong dash has eluded Aidan O’Brien since 2001 yet he saddles the hot favourite and July Cup winner Ten Sovereigns who will be making his first start over the minimum distance.
Impeccable in his juvenile season, the son of Nay Nay Never couldn’t handle the 2000 Guineas trip on his reappearance before disappointing in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
However, his display in the July Cup marked him down as a serious sprinter and catapulted him to the top of the Nunthorpe and Sprint Cup ante-post markets.
He is going to be very hard to beat at Haydock next month over six furlongs, but York is a speed track and I cannot bring myself to back him at 6/4 over a trip he has never tried before.
Battaash is next in the betting and it looks as though he has matured this season.
In the past two campaigns he hasn’t been at his best on the Knavesmire, and while it could be third time lucky, the 9/4 with Ladbrokes isn’t tempting enough.
York is a unique course with the stables housed quite far away and that combined with the large crowds might see this five-year-old boil over like he has done in the past.
The most solid option looks to be MABS CROSS who failed to land this prize 12 months ago by a whisker.
Michael Dods has a brilliant record in the race, winning it back-to-back in 2015 and 2016 with Mecca’s Angel and then suffering that agonising defeat last year.
After a lengthy wait for the result of the photo, the majority of the racecourse couldn’t believe that she hadn’t at least forced a dead heat but 40/1 outsider Alpha Delphini had put his head down at exactly the right time.
Compensation hopefully awaits here following three excellent efforts this term and even though I don’t agree with the decision to jock off Paul Mulrennan, Gerald Mosse is a top pilot and won the Prix de l’Abbaye on her last October.
There have been a number of big-priced winners in this race in the past decade, but none of the outsiders particularly float my boat and Mabs Cross is the best bet at 5/1 with Coral.
Today’s action kicks off with the competitive 1m4f Sky Bet Handicap (1.55pm) where I’m finding it hard to look past 13/2 favourite CORELLI.
Hailing from the all-conquering John Gosden yard, who have already had plenty to celebrate this week, the son of Point Of Entry looks handicapped to take this following a gelding operation in the spring.
Beaten just half a length by the now 109-rated Baghdad on his reappearance in a 1m4f handicap at Newmarket in May, he was then stepped up massively in trip for the 2m5½f Queen Alexandra Stakes at the Royal meeting.
He didn’t handle that distance but then ran a cracker when dropped back to 1m4f to be denied only a short-head by Kelly’s Dino in a Newmarket handicap earlier this month.
The winner that day is a major improver who takes his chance in the Ebor tomorrow and I’m convinced that Corelli will prove better than his mark of 100.
I’m happy to sit back and watch Stradivarius pick up another million pound check after the Lonsdale Cup, so my final bet is SPIRIT WARNING in the lucky last (4.50pm).
Andrew Balding won this prize 12 months ago with Urban Aspect (now known as Ka Ying Star in Hong Kong) and a fast run mile handicap looks ideal for this improving son of Charm Spirit.
Badly in at the weights following a recent win at Windsor, Balding has booked promising 5lb apprentice Will Carver to offset that.
Corelli e/w 1.55pm York
Mabs Cross 3.35pm York
Spirit Warning e/w 4.50pm York