A scintillating show of raw speed is in store in the G1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday, when last year’s winner Highfield Princess bids for a repeat against her Royal Ascot conquerors Bradsell and Khaadem and the two-year-old wildcard Big Evs.
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G1, £533,750, 5f fast turf (straight), 2yo+, 10.35am ET
A big field of sprinters will thunder down the York straight on Friday in the headline Nunthorpe, which offers a free pass into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, but most observers will have eyes for only one horse.
The mighty mare Highfield Princess (6-4), last year’s champion European sprinter and a huge fan favourite, returns to the scene of her greatest triumph as a heavy chalk to go back to back in this prestigious race. She cruised by two and a half lengths 12 months ago and, after a solid but winless first half of the year, came back to her best in the 2023 G2 King George over five furlongs at Goodwood with another dominant performance.
She romped by three easy lengths, with Makarova (40-1) another length and a half back in fourth, last-time-out winners Equality (25-1) and Nymphadora (33-1) a well-beaten seventh and eighth, and Ladies Church (40-1) tenth of 11. Highfield Princess will be on or near the speed, and she is certainly the one to beat.
Bradsell (4-1) has done that before, when he got the better of Highfield Princess by a length as they ran the exacta in the 2023 G1 King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, with a little intimidation thrown in but no harm, no foul. Back in fourth was Twilight Calls (18-1), beaten another two and a quarter lengths, and Dramatised (11-1) – who ran an absolute stinker and should go much better today – was a distant 15th of 17.
That was a clear career-best for Bradsell dropped down to five furlongs for the first time and he will be a potent threat, but he is 4lb worse off with the mare from Royal Ascot and that may be a factor.
There will be a lot of attention on the juvenile Big Evs (7-1), in one of the few races where two-year-olds can go against older horses. He gets a massive weight concession – 21lb from Highfield Princess – and is super-speedy, having won over five furlongs against his age group at Royal Ascot and Goodwood.
The enigmatic 2023 G1 Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee winner Khaadem (25-1) – a length and a half ahead of Highfield Princess in that Royal Ascot contest – was fourth in this race 12 months ago and will come late on the scene, but is better at six furlongs, while the Aidan O’Brien runner Aesop’s Fables (40-1) and Queen Me (50-1) have never raced over this minimum distance, and this is a hot spot to try something new.
Course-and-distance winner Regional (9-1) made his stakes breakthrough at Haydock over five furlongs last time – the runner-up has won since – and is certainly upgrading, but this is a huge class hike and it could be too much too soon.
2023 Nunthorpe Stakes Odds by Jazzsports
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|Live In The Dream
HIGHFIELD PRINCESS got back in the groove with an impressive win last time, and she can maintain that level and repeat last year’s victory in this race.
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