Very occasionally two-year-olds are dared to engage with established speedsters in G1 UK sprints – such as York’s Nunthorpe Stakes. Even more rarely do they win.
But a core of opinion believes that The Platinum Queen could leave her 14 more mature sprinting rivals gasping from the second the gates open in Friday’s celebrated 1000m charge up the Knavesmire straight.
The manner in which The Platinum Queen took down the juvenile course record – clocking 56.50 seconds in July 27th’s 2yo fillies Conditions (1000m) at Glorious Goodwood after blitzing from the front – meant that the Nunthorpe temptation would be great. Especially as, earlier in July, she had established her York credentials with a runaway course and distance novices’ success.
But perhaps even more pertinent on the minds of astute syndicate owners Middleham Park Racing is the fact that this young filly will be getting a minimum of 22lb from her rivals, with 14 of them declared on Wednesday.
Soon after Goodwood the brilliant Hollie Doyle was approached to ride her in the Nunthorpe, following confirmation that The Platinum Queen would be supplemented for a hefty £40,000. Doyle says: “Goodwood was a breath-taking performance and I’m hoping that great big turbo she has under her bonnet really kicks in on Friday.”
Expected favourite is Royal Aclaim (Andrea Atzeni) who shares with The Platinum Queen a newly acquired biography having been virtually unheard of a few months ago, the unbeaten filly’s profile soaring after she dominated the later stages of last month’s Listed City Walls Stakes over the Nunthorpe course and distance.
Royal Aclaim’s trainer James Tate is yet to win a G1 and his excitement is palpable: “We are counting down the days and I really think she goes to York with a favouite’s chance. She was by far the lowest rated in that York Listed race, still winning it easily.”
But it is a wide-open dash, and racing historians will note that two huge priced outsiders have captured the Nunthorpe in the last ten years so the fact that Aidan O’Brien sends New York City (Wayne Lordan) on a recovery mission after some disappointments is interesting. But on recent evidence much more serious candidates include Khaadem who looks less temperamental now judged by his performances in group company on his last two starts, latterly when bravely holding on to the winners’ money in the G2 King George Stakes (1000m) at Goodwood.
By contrast the temperament and motivation of Highfield Princess (Jason Hart) has never been questioned. And, after another sparkling display when winning this month’s G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville (1300m), the only issue with this gutsy mare is that she has never run won over as short as 1000m.
Flotus is also better known for longer trips but looked at the top of her game when winning York’s G3 Summer Stakes (1200m) last month, whilst last year’s Nunthorpe winner, second and third – Winter Power (David Allan), Emaraaty Ana (Kevin Stott) and Dragon Symbol (David Egan) deserve obvious respect for their G1 York sprinting history, even if Winter Power and Emaraaty Ana are required to significantly upgrade on their 2022 performances.Whatever wins the Nunthorpe, the most popular horse at York on Friday will be Stradivarius (Andrea Atzeni) especially if this mighty veteran stayer and lover of York’s wide open spaces and long straight can win the G2 Lonsdale Cup (3261m) for a fourth time, stretching his unbeaten spree at this track to a quite extraordinary seven. Supporters of Trueshan (Hollie Doyle), his most obvious rival, will be begging for rain.