The feature race on day three of York’s Ebor meeting is all about speed in the shape of the Group 1 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes. The five furlong speed test has been won by some of the fastest forces on the planet in years gone by such as Mumtaz Mahal, Abernant, Sharpo, Dayjur and more recently Battaash.
The field for this year’s race may not include anything approaching the ability of those great speedsters. But a fascinating renewal still looks guaranteed with last year’s 1-2-3 taking on a host of strong contenders headed by the unbeaten Royal Aclaim and exciting juvenile The Platinum Queen.
“Tip of the Day” - Royal Aclaim (3.35pm York) - 13/8 with Coral
A fascinating Nunthorpe Stakes in which James Tate’s daughter of Aclaim is fancied to keep her unbeaten record based on an impressive victory on the course last month.
1.50pm York. 1m 4f
Our Tip: Ravenscraig Castle (e.w.) - 30/1 with Paddy Power (6 places)
A wide-open mile and a half handicap to start proceedings in which, as I write, bookmakers can’t pick a favourite and go 8/1 the field. Juan De Montalban has won two competitive handicaps at Ascot this season but is now racing off a stone higher mark.
Amtiyaz would have a chance if fit enough on his first outing for more than a year, while cases can be made for several more including Mahrajaan, Lord Protector and Cormier. However, at a big price I am inclined to give Iain Jardine’s RAVENSCRAIG CASTLE (ew) another chance returning to the scene of the gelding’s excellent third in the Melrose Handicap at this meeting 12 months ago.
After decent efforts at Ayr and Haydock this season, the grey was disappointing when attempting to make all of the running on his most recent start at Hamilton earlier this month. On both occasions the mount of Andrew Mullen has employed similar tactics, the four-year-old has weakened late on.
The son of Nathaniel seems happier racing just off the pace and with only 8st 4lb to carry in this £100,000 contest, Ravenscraig Castle is worth backing each-way at a big price.
2.25pm York. 2m 1/2f
Our Tip: Coltrane (e.w.) - 13/2 with William Hill
With Goodwood Cup winner Kyprios not in evidence, bookmakers expect this extended two mile Group 2 contest to be fought out by the second and third horses home in that race, Stradivarius and Trueshan respectively.
Of course both horses have outstanding claims, in particular Alan King’s charge should there be any significant rainfall on the Knavesmire prior to race time. My impression watching that stamina test on the Sussex Downs was that the fourth horse home, COLTRANE (ew), didn’t appear at home on the course and back on a track that suits, is capable of putting down a serious challenge to those two top stayers.
Andrew Balding’s charge has been in tremendous form this season, in particular when pulling ten lengths clear of his rivals in Sandown’s Listed Coral Marathon. An easy winner of the Melrose at this meeting as a three-year-old, Rob Hornby’s mount, with eight runners declared, should make the frame at the very least.
3.00pm York. 6f
Our Tip: Chuzzlewit (e.w.) (Longshot) - 40/1 with bet365 (4 places)
Eleven of the 12 runners for the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes have each recorded at least one victory to date, while seven have recorded two wins including clear form horse Royal Scotsman and the exciting pair of Marshman and Noble Style.
The only maiden in the race is the Kevin Ryan-trained CHUZZLEWIT (ew) who comes from a stable that has won this famous juvenile contest four times this century, the most recent being that of Nunthorpe hopeful Emeraaty Ana in 2018.
Ryan has a tremendous record with his sprinters and he obviously thinks a lot of the Showcasing colt who was sent off favourite for his Redcar debut of last month. The mount of Neil Callan (ridden on that occasion by Andrea Atzeni who partners the owner’s Cold Case here) lost all chance when falling out of the stalls at the north-east racecourse but stayed on to such effect that he was beaten a little over two lengths at the finish.
While this looks a strong renewal with so many unexposed juveniles taking each other on, a big run from Chuzzlewit would be no surprise with that run under his belt and from a stable who target this race every year.
3.35pm York. 5f
Our Tip: Royal Aclaim (Nap) - 13/8 with Coral
This could be a case of two races in one for this excellent Group 1 speed test with pacesetters Emeraaty Ana, Highfield Princess and lightly-weighted juvenile The Platinum Queen drawn 11,14 and 13 respectively. While last year’s winner Winter Power, a prominent racer, last month’s all-the-way Group 3 course winner Flotus and favourite ROYAL ACLAIM (Nap) on the other side in stalls 5, 4 and 2.
One thing is for certain and that is that there will be no hanging around on the Knavesmire, tactics which should suit the James Tate-trained unbeaten daughter of Aclaim down to the ground based on the three-year-old fillies’ impressive victory over course and distance in the listed City Walls Stakes on her most recent start.
As Andrea Atzeni’s mount passed the post on that occasion my first thought was “that looks like the Nunthorpe winner to me,” at which point I availed myself of the 11/2 then available. Whether current odds of around 6/4 now represent anything in the way of value is open to question. But whatever the price, I expect the speedy filly to be still unbeaten after the 56 or 57 seconds it will take to run the day’s highlight.
4.10pm York. 1m 2 1/2f
Our Tip: Amanzoe (Nb) - 3/1 with Betvictor
Trainer William Haggas rarely leaves his beloved York without a winner or two and while the Newmarket handler is already on cloud nine courtesy of a world-class performance from Baaeed on the first day, the stable can take this fillies’ handicap with AMANZOE who boasts the perfect profile for this extended 1m 2f contest.
This does not look like the strongest handicap ever run on the Knavesmire and may concern two of the five three-year-olds, Amanzoe, and Shampion from the Roger Varian stable. The latter, an easy four length winner at Windsor on just her third outing, makes her handicap debut on a potentially attractive mark of 84.
Preference however is for the Haggas runner who is on a four-timer following wins at Hamilton, Sandown and Ascot. The daughter of Fastnet Rock was running off 69 when making her handicap debut at Leicester back in June and is now running off 93.
Once a filly starts to improve at this time of the year there is no knowing just where and when the improvement will reach its peak and it may be that Tom Marquand’s mount, in time, may prove better than a handicapper.
* Betting odds are subject to changes.