Henry Candy will be on weather watch today, hoping and praying that the rain stays clear of Yorkshire until the evening.
Showers are forecast to hit the Knavesmire from midday, with some expected to be heavy. Any change in ground conditions will impair the chances of his outstanding sprinter Limato, as he seeks to win the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. The Darley July Cup hero has to have quick ground to be seen at his best, as he showed at Newmarket, when scooting clear of a top-class field. He travelled powerfully that day, hitting the front just inside the two-furlong pole, suggesting the drop back to the minimum trip will not inconvenience him.
Candy remains less certain regarding the trip. Speaking to At The Races earlier in the week he said: “He seems to be in good form. Mr Jacobs (owner) has parted with a huge amount of money to supplement him, so we hope for the best. I'm in favour of giving it a try, but I'm not at all confident. I think a very fast, very flat five (furlongs) might just find him out, but it's worth a try. He'll run well.”
Another who’ll need the rain to stay away is the Robert Cowell trained Goldream. The seven-year-old tuned up for this with a more than satisfactory third place finish at Goodwood in the King George Stakes. That was his first run since March, and he’s sure to strip fitter this time around. With ground in his favour, he won last year’s King’s Stand Stakes and the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp. He’s a serious contender in this, if the ground remains quick.
One that will be hoping for rain, and plenty of it, is Michael Dods; trainer of last year’s winner Mecca’s Angel. The talented mare could just about get-away with good to soft, but good or quicker would certainly compromise her chances. The trainer will have two talented fillies in the race, with three-year-old Easton Angel also in the mix. She has a preference for quicker ground, so one of the two looks sure to be inconvenienced.
Dods is quoted on the RacingUK website, saying: “She (Mecca's Angel) is in great form. Paul sat on her last week and he's delighted with her. It's going to be her last season, so as long as it's not too quick we'll probably let her take her chance.” On Easton Angel he said: “If we get good ground, we'll be happy. It's a good track and there are showers forecast. She went to Goodwood and was a bit unlucky. She's a good filly and at this stage she's probably better than Mecca's Angel was. We're delighted they're both running and we're looking forward to it.”
Easton Angel was just behind Goldream, Washington DC and Take Cover at Goodwood, in a blanket finish. All four re-oppose, and there’s little to choose between them. All four probably need the ground to stay on the quick side, with possibly Washington DC the one least likely to be inconvenienced by rain.
Arguably the season’s best sprinter in the field is the Clive Cox trained four-year-old Profitable. He took the King’s Stand Stakes on soft ground, having won the Temple Stakes at Haydock when there was also ‘give’ in the ground. He was stepped-up to six furlongs for the July Cup last time, and ran with great credit, though would not have beaten Limato at any stage of the race. In my opinion, the rain has to come if he is to reverse placings with Candy’s star.
The last juvenile winner of the Nunthorpe was Kingsgate Native back in 2007. The Mark Johnston trained Yalta is as short as 9/1 to take today’s race, having looked mightily impressive in the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood. That win came on fast ground, and it’s likely that rain will prove an issue. This is a huge ask for such an inexperienced racehorse, and he’s unlikely to get an uncontested lead with Take Cover in the field. Two-year-olds receive plenty of weight from their elders, but this appears a strong renewal, and I’d be surprised if he can handle such a race at this stage of his career.
Two at bigger odds that could run into a place are Pearl Secret and Goken. Both need plenty of luck in running, and will be doing their best work late on. The forecast rain would be in their favour. Goken finished with a flurry behind Profitable in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot.
The weather will play a key role in the outcome of the Nunthorpe, and as such I’ll be waiting as long as possible before parting with my hard earned pennies. It’s Limato from Goldream for me, should the rain stay away. But should the heavy showers arrive, and the ground change, I’ll be with Profitable and Washington DC.