Ten Sovereigns, Battaash aim for Breeders' Cup berth in Nunthorpe

By Jim Gluckson/Breeders' Cup
August 22, 2019 12:51pm
In a duel between Europe’s top turf sprinters headlining a 12-horse field, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s 3-year-old Ten Sovereigns is slated to take on the veteran 5-year-old gelding Battaash at York Racecourse in Friday’s five-furlong, $512,000 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (G1). The Coolmore Nunthorpe winner will receive an automatic berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) through the International Breeders’ Cup Challenge.

Ten Sovereigns, a 3-year-old son of No Nay Never, trained by Aidan O’Brien, has won four of six starts, and most recently made his biggest score by defeating older horses in the six-furlong Darley July Cup (G1) at Newmarket on July 13 by 2 ¾ lengths over the favored Advertise. Ridden by Ryan Moore, the July Cup triumph reversed a disappointing fourth-place finish as the even-money favorite in the six-furlong Commonwealth Cup (G1) against 3-year-olds at Royal Ascot on June 21. As a 2-year-old, Ten Sovereigns won all three of his starts, including the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

O’Brien also has entered Mrs. E.M. Stockwell, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s 3-year-old filly Fairyland, who was third in the July Cup. A bay daughter of Kodiac, ridden by Donnacha O’Brien, Fairyland has a win over the course, taking the six-furlong Sky Bet Lowther Stakes (G2) a year ago to the day. Fairyland closed out 2019 winning the Group 1 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Battaash, trained by Charlie Hills, has won nine of 18 starts, and due to his sprinting prowess, has gone off as the favorite nine of the last 10 times. Friday’s race will mark his third attempt to win the Nunthorpe, having finished fourth in the past two times. Following minor wind surgery during the winter, Battaash, a bay son of Dark Angel, opened the season on May 25 at Haydock with a sharp 2 ½-length score in the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes (G2).

At Royal Ascot next for the five-furlong King’s Stand (G1), Battaash could not track down Blue Point (IRE) in the final furlong, losing by 1 ¼ lengths as the 2-1 favorite. However, he rebounded strongly in his most recent start, the King George (G2) at Glorious Goodwood on Aug 2, securing a three-quarters of a length victory. Battaash will be ridden by Jim Crowley.

Also formidable for Friday's race is David Armstrong’s 5 -year-old mare Mabs Cross, trained by Michael Dodds and ridden by Gerald Mosse. In last year’s Nunthorpe, Mabs Cross lost a heart-breaking nose finish to Alpha Delphini fighting side-by-side in the final furlong. As disappointing as that result was for her connections, they were overjoyed the next time out when their bay daughter of Dutch Art won the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp, pulling off a 12-1 upset with a head victory.

This year, Mabs Cross has one win in three starts. After capturing the Zoustar Palace House Stakes (G3) at Newmarket on May 4, she lost a shoe during the Temple Stakes, and wound up third, beaten 3 ¾ lengths.  She started next in the King’s Stand, but could not sustain a steady drive to the finish and wound up fourth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths.

Finishing one place ahead of Mabs Cross in the King’s Stand was Clipper Logistics’ 3-year-old Soldier’s Call.  A bay or brown son of Showcasing, trained by Archie Watson, Soldier’s Call finished fourth as the 2-1 favorite in his most recent start, the five-furlong  Sapphire Stakes (G2) on July 21 at the Curragh, also losing a shoe. Soldier’s Call had a big 2-year-old season with four wins in six starts, including a Group 2 triumph in the Childers Stakes at Doncaster. The Childers win gave his connections the confidence to  run their juvenile in the Prix de l’Abbaye, where he ran a brilliant third, beaten by a neck for it all.

Friday's race will award the second “Win and You’re In” berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint this year. Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables LLC and Bethlehem Stables’ World of Trouble was the first to qualify, capturing the Grade 1 Jaipur Invitational at Belmont Park on June. 8.


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