The Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday is the only Group Flat race in the UK in which two-year-olds can race against older horses. There are no juveniles declared to run this year, so Battaash is the horse to back despite odds as low as -187.51 with some online bookmakers.
The favourite is the best sprinter trained in the UK and Ireland at the moment. The horse’s Official Rating of 126 puts him 11lbs ahead of the second favourite, Art Power, who has won three races from three starts this season. On ratings, A’Ali is the each-way standout bet at +700 with BetOnline.
The Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes is run over the five-furlong straight course at York. Uniquely for a race at this level, it brings together horses aged two and older runners. Hypothetically, this year the younger horses would receive a huge 22lbs from three-year-olds, who get 2lbs from the older generation. There is also a 3lbs allowance for fillies.
Battaash is a six-year-old gelding and so carries the maximum weight of 9st 11lbs. Art Power and A’Ali are aged three and so carry 2lbs less, but that small advantage will not be enough to beat a favourite who cannot be opposed despite the short odds.
The last two-year-old winner was Kingsgate Native in 2007, while only two horses from the Classic generation have won the Nunthorpe in the last 10 years. The winning-most age since 2000 is four years with five wins. Only six horses aged six and older have won the race since 2000.
Battaash ran in Friday’s York feature in the last three seasons and won the race a year ago as the second favourite. The horse ran fourth as the odds-on favourite in 2018 and also finished fourth the previous year. Mecca’s Angel was the last multiple winner (2015 and 2016), and two horses have won three Nunthorpe Stakes.
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Charlie Hills trains Battaash and Jim Crowley is the jockey, so the combination is looking to become just the second trainer/jockey team to win the race twice in two years since the start of the century. Hamdam al Maktoum owns the horse and won the Nunthorpe Stakes in 1990 with Dayjur.
Favourite backers have not done well in the Nunthorpe Stakes over the last decade. Battaash would be just the second outright winning favourite since 2010, but five of the last six winners were in the top three in the betting. Battaash would be the only odds-on winner since 2008.
If Battaash wins off 126, he would have the highest winning rating over the last 10 years. The average rating of the winning horse over that spell is 113. Battaash won off a mark of 123 a year ago, which is 3lbs more than the second-highest winning figure.
The favourite is without doubt the fastest horse trained in Europe and quite possibly the quickest in the world. The US trainer Wesley Ward has some speedy juveniles, but the weight allowance was not enough to tempt the trainer to take on Battaash with his best young sprinters.
Battaash has the best sprint form of the eight-runner field for the Nunthorpe this season, as he has won Group races over five furlongs at Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood. Of the placed horses in those races, only Ornate takes on Battaash again at York this week.
A’Ali more than Art Power is the bet to make the payout places at the current odds. However, the other seven runners are competing for second place because Battaash looks to have a penalty kick in the 2020 Nunthorpe Stakes.