The Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes – one of Europe’s elite contests for sprinters – looks extremely competitive and has the potential to result in another one of flat racing’s fairy-tale endings.
On the one hand there is Acapulco, without question this is no ordinary two year old filly, built like a brick “you know what” with an enviable turn of foot – she has proved to be a monster in her own age group.
At the other end of the spectrum is Sole Power, an eight year old now and by no means a spent force. He is bidding to win this race for the third time with Frankie booked for his first ride on what is arguably one of the most consistently strong sprinters in recent years. However, the conditions on course raise questions.
How will Acapulco handle the slower ground? Can Sole Power finally overcome its well demonstrated preference for a lightning quick surface? It’s enough to put a doubt in the mind with both horses priced at around 2/1 and 7/1 respectively. The huge weight allowance for Acapulco will count for more in the soft but its difficult to be fully confident in a 2yr old with form over fast ground and only against its peers – with respect, this is slightly unknown territory. Wesley Ward is no mug. So his confidence alone might be enough for punters, but at that short a price it’s making us look elsewhere.
Fresh from his Goodwood success, Muthmir must enter calculations – he is undoubtedly better over 5f and his trainer William Haggas is on fire this week. His form on offer is decent, if not outstanding, beating two older horses in Take Cover and Move In Time who both re-oppose and his 1/2l defeat to Goldream at Royal Ascot is fairly smart too. But he’s not placed over anything worse than good and that has to be concern. Mecca’s Angel has form on gd-sft and ran out a decent second to Stepper Point at the Curragh. That race was not the strongest of Group 2 contests but it could still be fresh with this only its third run of the campaign. It could also still be improving, which it will need to do in order to be competitive here.
Music Master was third to Mirza in a 5f Listed contest in very soft conditions at Deauville last time out and although admittedly he likes it quicker, he has plenty of form on good and a second to Tropics in gd-sft conditions on his CV. Henry Candy said earlier this season that he should be stronger and better as a five year old and he remains very unexposed over the minimum trip. He finished dead last and in distress at Haydock when a new “bit” was tried over 5f before running an absolute cracker behind Undrafted in the Diamond Jubilee at the Royal meeting passing several horses just after the 2f pole when it appeared like he didn’t quite make it home over 6f. His only other Group 1 appearances were last season and witnessed him finish 4th to Slade Power (by 2 and 3/4 lengths) and then third to G Force (by 2 and a 1/4 lengths with Sole Power in 4th) both over 6f.
There is an argument that this horse may be getting quicker as he gets older and the conditions could be in his favour. Drawn in stall 17, the field is likely to race down the centre of the course with early decent pace around him, he should get plenty of cover and the potential to use his 5.5-6f stamina for a late run on the far side rail. At the time of writing 33/1 was available for an each-way bet paying four places.
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