Ortensia and Bated Breath currently head the betting market in tomorrow’s Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes (3.40pm) at York over five furlongs. However favourites have often failed to deliver in this race. We peruse the likely contenders:
Pearl Secret: Three-year-olds have won the Nunthorpe in both the last two years and have the best record with a total of four wins since the turn of the century. This flashy chestnut son of Compton Place is easily the most exciting prospect of that age.
Currently rated 109, he is unbeaten in his four starts to date. The most recent was at Sandown in June in Listed company. He only won by a neck but jockey Richard Hughes was so confident in his superiority that he chose to use hands and heels rather than the persuader in the closing stages. Pearl Secret is relatively inexperienced but he has won over course and distance twice. He won his maiden and an EBF Sprint Conditions Stakes at the Knavesmire over five furlongs.
Yorkshire based trainer David Barron has a particularly impressive record with sprinters. Bloodstock agent David Redvers bought this colt for £90,000 for Sheikh Fahad as a two-year-old at the Doncaster Breeze-Up Sales last year and immediately recommended Barron. Redvers thought he was the stand out of the sale and has proved right so far.
This colt is untried in this quality of company and has never encountered a field larger than 12 before. Barron admits that it is a pretty big ask but it would not be the first time that he has trained a Nunthorpe winner. Coastal Bluff dead heated with Dandy Nicholls’ Ya Malak back in 1997 when running with a broken bridle.
Bated Breath: If official ratings are any guide, this five year old son of Dansili is the classiest contender in the race at 118. The vast majority of his 16 starts have been over six furlongs. This season his trainer Roger Charlton has dropped him back to five with impressive results. He was only robbed by the foreign raider, Little Bridge in the five furlong Kings Stand Stakes in June. He finished a length ahead of Edward Lynam’s Sole Power in a field of 22 runners on good to soft ground. In his previous run, in the Group 2 Betfred Temple Stakes at Haydock on firm ground, Bated Breath once again got the better of Sole Power, beating him by a neck.
This horse is incredibly consistent but one of his very few disappointing runs was in this race last year when he started joint second favourite and finished ninth in a field of 15. Yes, he had a bad draw, starting from stall two and the first four all raced on the stands side but surely he should have beaten a few more home? This time he is starting from stall 15 which has to be an advantage.
Ortensia: This talented seven-year-old mare trained by Paul Messara in Australia has now proved that she can perform in the UK with her win at Goodwood in the Group 2 King George Stakes on August 3rd. You can easily discount her previous run in the July Cup at Newmarket where she finished fourth on unsuitably heavy ground. Similarly you can forget her run in the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot in June where she finished ninth behind Little Bridge on good to soft.
She goes into the race with the second highest rating of 115, just three pounds lower than the favourite Bated Breath. As a mare, she carries three pounds less than him, making it a level playing field. She is drawn in stall eight and will have the assistance of William Buick.
Monsieur Joe: Robert Cowell’s five year old son of Choisir, Monsieur Joe is worth a second look as he seems to have a larger chance than his price suggests. Currently rated 110, he comes into the race in winning form, having taken the top prize in a five furlong Listed race at Deauville earlier in the month. Jockey on the day, Olivier Peslier, said that he was a tough and improving horse. On his previous run he came third in a five furlong contest at York under Richard Mullen. Mullen takes the ride in the Nunthorpe. If the upward curve is continued it would not be a surprise to see him right there at the finish.
Secret Witness: This six-year-old son of Pivotal moved to Ron Harris from Jeremy Noseda at the end of 2009. Harris stuck the blinkers on him and has raced him relentlessly ever since. He even ran three times in a week in May this year. You have to wonder if Ron Harris is short of work riders at home or if he likes boosting his bills with travelling costs. His last two runs have been distinctly underwhelming. The most recent one was last Saturday in a ropey six furlong handicap at Ripon. He finished 14th of the 20 runners. So why on earth is he being mentioned here? In the past three years stall 11 in the Nunthorpe has released two winners (Sole Power and Margot Did) and, in 2009 the second placed Ben Baum. Secret Witness is starting from stall 11. He also throws in the occasional decent run including two seconds and a win at York in much lesser races this year.
Nunthorpe Betting Tips Verdict
Looking at the top of the market, Bated Breath (4/1) and Ortensia (5/1) have obvious claims but I think Pearl Secret (9/2) may well continue the winning run of three-year-olds in the Nunthorpe.