Battaash, the second-favourite for the Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday, has produced two or three performances during his career which strongly suggest that Charlie Hills’s five-year-old is the fastest thoroughbred on the planet. Famously, however, or notoriously, if you prefer, he has never managed to do so at York, having finished fourth on both of his previous starts in the Nunthorpe, including an odds-on failure 12 months ago.
That is one reason why Battaash is a 5-2 chance to make it third time lucky, despite two performances this season, at Haydock and Goodwood, which were up there with his very best. The other is the presence in the field of Ten Sovereigns, a brilliant winner of the July Cup last time out, whose prowess among European sprinters will be beyond doubt if he can reproduce that form dropping back to five furlongs for the first time in his career.
Ten Sovereigns was backed like a near-certainty before winning at Newmarket and could well attract a similar surge of money on Friday afternoon. Even his Newmarket form, though, gives him something to find with Battaash, 5lb, in fact, according to Timeform, and if Battaash can shake off his antipathy to the Knavesmire, he will take some catching.
It is a big if, but in the end it all comes down to the prices and at around 5-2, Battaash surely deserves one last chance to get it right at York.
Friday TV races preview
York 1.55 With 20 runners going to post and the bookies’ going 7-1 the field, this looks every bit as competitive as Saturday’s £1m Ebor Handicap but Caradoc has a good draw for a horse that likes to race up with the pace, remains lightly-raced for a four-year-old and could well improve further as he steps up to a mile-and-a-half for the first time.
York 2.25 Stradivarius is one race away from claiming the Stayers’ Million for the second year running and certain to start at odds-on to extend his winning streak to nine races. He never wins by very far but it is still difficult to see Dee Ex Bee getting the better of him at the third time of asking, even with the benefit of a 3lb pull for less than a length in the Goodwood Cup last time. Falcon Eight, though, is a fascinating new rival for Stradivarius, having been brought along patiently by Dermot Weld, who had a winner at York on Thursday, since making a belated debut last July. He looks like a high-class stayer in the making and if all five runners go to post, an obvious each-way bet at around 9-1.
York 3.00 Threat has put up strong performances in defeat in both of his last two starts, first behind Arizona in the Coventry Stakes at Ascot and then to finish within a length of Golden Horde in the Richmond at Goodwood. He is up against some very promising juveniles here, however, the most notable being Spartan Fighter, whose defeat of A’Ali in an unusually fast time at Ripon in June was franked when the runner-up took the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. Declan Carroll’s runner followed up on the Knavesmire last month and is a big price at around 6-1 to extend his winning streak today.