David Cleary looks ahead to life after Battaash for the 5f sprinters, with a pick in the Nunthorpe...
"Running into the teeth of the wind, Arecibo didn't have much cover just behind the front rank, and although virtually the last off the bridle, he couldn't pick up so well as a trio that were better shielded from the elements."
The retirement of the great five-furlong sprinter Battaash after his defeat in the King George Stakes at Goodwood on Friday, leaves an opening for one of the younger brigade to come through and claim his crown as the best in the division. There's a handful of three-year-olds who could be up to that task, the King George winner Suesa, Wesley Ward's Golden Pal and the speedy Winter Power among them. However, in the short term, at the prices for the Nunthorpe at York, it might be worth taking a chance with the six-year-old Arecibo to eclipse them all.
Arecibo had been around the block a bit before he joined Robert Cowell at the start of this campaign. He appeared established as a useful performer in high-end sprint handicaps for David O'Meara, twice making the frame in the one at the Ebor meeting. Arecibo wasn't a frequent winner, adding just one success for O'Meara to three he'd gained in his younger days in France.
Better than ever this year; better than the result last time
Arecibo soon added two more wins to his tally at the start of the current campaign, landing a couple of handicaps at Newmarket. However, it is his three runs back in pattern company since then that have shown just how much he has progressed this summer. He was runner-up to Oxted in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot, coming late under a trademark Jamie Spencer Ascot ride; was edged out in a Group 3 at Sandown; then ran much better than the distances indicate in the King George last week.
Running into the teeth of the wind, Arecibo didn't have much cover just behind the front rank, and although virtually the last off the bridle, he couldn't pick up so well as a trio that were better shielded from the elements. Arecibo has travelled really smoothly in all his races this year, so sitting behind the pace in the Nunthorpe on a flat track like York, ought to be absolutely ideal. He can be backed at 15.014/1 with Betfair Sportsbook.
Suesa: not so good as she looked at Goodwood?
So what of the three-year-olds? Suesa is the obvious starting point. She won the King George by three lengths, after all. She's been beaten just once, and the Goodwood run could be viewed as putting her some way ahead of the field right now. However, Suesa was seen to maximum effect last week, getting plenty of cover from the wind and produced late, the winning margin likely to exaggerate her superiority.
Golden Pal was a smart two-year-old, finishing second in the Norfolk at Royal Ascot and winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (not quite so grand as it sounds). He was kept off the course by an ankle chip until July, when he made short work of some useful rivals in a Grade 3. Whether the style of that win is enough to have him pressing for favouritism against the best European sprinters is doubtful.
Winter Power a danger on favoured track
Winter Power makes more appeal. She was sent off at just 7-1 for the King's Stand, but in a race that favoured those patiently ridden, she did too much too soon and could manage only ninth. Winter Power has shown much more what she is capable of on her start either side of that run, winning listed races at York in May and July. The opposition will be tougher, but her trailblazing style works much better here than it does at Ascot.
Battaash, winner of the Nunthorpe for the last two years, will be a tough act to follow, and it's unlikely any that line up this year will reach the heights he did. In truth, Arecibo is very unlikely to, but he's improved this year and his best may well be good enough for this Battaash-less renewal of the Nunthorpe.
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