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Suesa aiming for Prix de l’Abbaye

Suesa is set for another bid at Group One glory as she is aimed at the Prix de l’Abbaye in October.

The filly, who is trained in Sauvagnon by Francois Rohaut, won the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood in July by an impressive three lengths.

A step up in grade followed at York, where the three-year-old finished fourth in the Nunthorpe Stakes, two and a half lengths behind Tim Easterby’s Winter Power.

Starting as the 9-4 favourite, the bay was drawn wide and found herself galloping alone near the outside rail as the race developed.

Winter Power had surged clear of the field by the time she hit the final furlong, but Suesa was gaining ground and accelerated from the rear of the pack to fourth place in the closing strides of the race.

Connections felt the draw was a hinderance to her chances and are now aiming for another Group One outing as the Abbaye is pencilled in for Paris on Arc day, October 3.

“She, all being well, will run in the Prix de l’Abbaye,” said James Wigan, racing manager to owner George Strawbridge.

“I think that she ran a very good race, she was probably on the wrong side of the course.

Suesa was brilliant in her Goodwood victory
Suesa was brilliant in her Goodwood victory (John Walton/PA)

“All the speed was on the other side and she had to race on her own, but she was making up ground.

“I think had she been on the other side she’d have been very close.”

Wesley Ward ‘all smiles’ ahead of Golden Pal’s Nunthorpe date

Wesley Ward is confident Golden Pal can provide him with a first victory in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe at York on Friday.

The first American trainer to saddle a winner at Royal Ascot in 2009, Ward is now in double figures at the showpiece meeting – but a winner on the Knavesmire has so far eluded him.

It has not been for the want of trying, with Acapulco filling the runner-up spot in the 2015 Nunthorpe and Lady Aurelia going down by a nose to Marsha two years later, when Frankie Dettori famously celebrated as though he had won when passing the post.

In Golden Pal, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and scintillating on his belated return to action at Saratoga last month, the Washington-born handler appears to have unearthed another sprinting star.

Speaking after checking on conditions on Thursday morning, Ward said: “We’ve just walked the course and had a morning schooling session in the paddock. All is good.

“I looked at the French filly (Suesa) today and I’m sure she’s going to run a good race, but our guy has really travelled over very well and has done everything right to this point – I’m very, very pleased and happy.

“I’m happy with the rider (Dettori) and the horse and the race conditions here at York.

“I can’t have anything right now that I can see is going in the wrong direction.

“We’re all smiles and we’ll see what happens on Friday afternoon.”

Suesa winning at Goodwood
Suesa winning at Goodwood (John Walton/PA)

Francois Rohaut reports Suesa to be in good shape as she bids to be the first French-trained winner since John Hammond’s Nuclear Debate in 2000.

The daughter of Night Of Thunder has won five of her six starts with her only defeat coming in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

However, she bounced back with an emphatic victory in the King George Stakes at Goodwood.

“All is well. We gave her chance to recover after Goodwood. She hasn’t worked that much, she didn’t need to. She had a workout with Olivier Peslier last week,” he said.

“It is one of the best races and we have to forget Ascot. It was the ground there and probably the hill was too much for her. William Buick did the right thing with her that day when he eased her in the final furlong. Then at Goodwood we had a good result.

“She is very easy. I am not worried about the track and the ground will be probably good, good to firm. She looks nice and hopefully she can repeat her Goodwood performance. If she can run as well as she did there, we will be happy.”

Winter Power has won both her starts at York this year in convincing fashion and trainer Tim Easterby believes there is more to come from the three-year-old filly.

“She’s in great form. I’m very happy with the draw (six). She hasn’t been pushed to her limits yet. I’m very happy with her and the ground will be perfect for her,” he said.

“You don’t look anywhere else – you look at your own horse, where you’re drawn, where you’re going on the track and tell your jockey to keep his head! After that, the job’s right.

“She’s a natural runner and we won’t be doing anything fancy with her.

“She’s not a hold-up horse and doesn’t have to make the running and she hits the line strong, that’s the main thing.

“You don’t want to be kicking for home three from home or you won’t win.

“She’s absolutely bang on – she couldn’t be better.”

Dragon Symbol (right) and Campanelle fight out the finish to the Commonwealth Cup
Dragon Symbol (right) and Campanelle fight out the finish to the Commonwealth Cup (David Davies/PA)

The Archie Watson-trained Dragon Symbol deserves a day in the sun, having lost the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in the stewards’ room before finishing second in the July Cup and in the King George at Goodwood.

“We’ve met Suesa twice, and we beat her comprehensively at Ascot before she beat us at Goodwood, where I didn’t think things went our way,” said Watson.

“Dragon Symbol is very versatile with regard to the ground and I think he goes on anything. It was heavy at Ascot and softish at Goodwood, but it was quick ground when he chased home Starman in the July Cup so it won’t be a problem if it dries out by Friday.

“I thought he travelled very well at Goodwood, down in trip, but unfortunately two longshot pacemakers came back in his lap. Oisin (Murphy) had to switch right, and then he had to switch even further right, and then he had to switch even further right to get round Battaash.

“By the time he had got out, he was on the wrong part of the track compared to the winner. I’ve no issues about taking her on again and I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think we might turn the tables.”

Michael Dods has a couple of chances in the Qipco British Champions Series contest, with last year’s runner-up Que Amoro joined by stablemate Dakota Gold, who has won five times at York.

“The Nunthorpe is a race we like to look at and we’ve been lucky in it, but I think it’s more competitive this year than it’s been for a while. You’ve got to have a go though,” said Dods.

“Que Amoro ran a hell of a race when second last year, but she’s a bit temperamental and things haven’t really worked out for her so far this year. She’s in good form and she likes York.

“The ground isn’t ideal for Dakota Gold, but so long as it’s safe I think he’ll run too. He might have grabbed a place if it had been heavy, but on good ground they’ll probably be too speedy for him.”

Moss Gill (centre) in action at York
Moss Gill (centre) in action at York (Dan Abraham/PA)

Ed Bethell has high hopes for Moss Gill, who finished third 12 months ago.

He said: “He finished within two lengths of Battaash last year, and any horse who did that when Battaash was in that sort of form did really well.

“It’s going to be a burn up of pure speed as I can see around seven who like to go forward, so I’m hoping that might play into his hands.

“Hopefully Moss Gill can sit on their tails, and if one or two of them capitulate, he’ll be there to pick up the pieces.”

Best reflects on Nunthorpe glory for juvenile sensation Kingsgate Native

As York’s Ebor meeting approaches so too does the Nunthorpe Stakes, a Group One five-furlong sprint down the Knavesmire that attracts the swiftest horses in training.

In 2007 John Best’s Kingsgate Native proved himself to be the quickest of them all, a first success in a career that would see him rise to the top of the sprint division, change hands for over £1million and then end his career patiently teaching the young students of the sport at the British Racing School.

The son of Mujadil began life at the Kent base of Best and made an instant impact on his debut performance when finishing second by just a head in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Such a high-profile introduction to the track was not Best’s initial plan, but rather the result of Kingsgate Native’s maiden run having been forgone due to the adverse weather conditions at the time.

Kingsgate Native, ridden by Jimmy Quinn, winning the Nunthorpe at York
Kingsgate Native, ridden by Jimmy Quinn, winning the Nunthorpe at York (John Giles/PA)

As a result the then two-year-old arrived at the Royal meeting having never stepped on a track before, but he was evidently unhindered by his lack of experience as he ran valiantly to finish second by just a head.

“He was due to run a couple of weeks before and the meeting was abandoned,” Best explained.

“It wasn’t by design, I’d like to say I was being clever but I wasn’t!

“We were planning on running him at York about three weeks before Ascot, but that was called off and it was too close to the race to think about running elsewhere.

“So I made the decision with the owner that we should just wait and take our chance, we knew he was pretty good but I didn’t quite know he was that good.”

His next visit to a racecourse returned the same result, this time in the Group Three Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood where he was the runner-up by a neck.

Kingsgate Native after being sold to Cheveley Park
Kingsgate Native after being sold to Cheveley Park (Anthony Devlin/PA)

A steep step up in grade followed as the bay then took on the Nunthorpe, this time triumphing by a length and a half to shed his maiden tag in a Group One contest.

“I think he’s one of the few maidens that have won a Group One,” Best said.

“It was a great day and he gave us a few others as well.

“That was his third race but he probably should have won both of his first two races. He was unlucky because at Ascot he was drawn on the wrong side and at Goodwood he was again drawn on the wrong side and he ended up switching halfway.

“I think if he hadn’t had to switch he would have won that as well. Coming into the Nunthorpe, if things had gone our way, he would have been unbeaten.”

Another tilt at Group One glory followed in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp that October, where the colt ran admirably once again to finish second.

“The ground was very soft that day and I think he just slightly missed the kick, if he’d jumped a little bit sharper and the ground was a little bit better he could probably have won that as well,” said Best.

“When you’re running at that sort of level you do need a little bit of luck, fortunately the race that was probably the most important was the Nunthorpe.”

Kingsgate Native at Royal Ascot
Kingsgate Native at Royal Ascot (Sean Dempsey/PA)

The following year Kingsgate Native began his campaign in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, where he was 10th of 13 runners, but he bounced back to form just four days later to take the Group One Golden Jubilee Stakes, a race that has been known as the Diamond Jubilee since 2012.

“As a three-year-old he was in the King’s Stand and I probably had him a bit too fresh that day and he just did a little bit too much early on,” said Best.

“After a discussion with John Mayne (owner) and the Thompsons of Cheveley Park (future owners), we decided we would let him take his chance in the Jubilee, which of course he won,” said Best.

“Luckily everyone was in agreement that we should just try it, so that’s how it was.”

There were then two visits to the July Course at Newmarket before the end the season, once for the July Cup, where Kingsgate Native finished fifth, and again for the defence of his Nunthorpe title as the race had been relocated from the Knavesmire due to waterlogging.

He was third in the latter race, but was beaten by just a length and a half on both occasions and was rated 120 when bowing out at the end of the campaign to head to stud.

Sold to Cheveley Park for £1.1 million, Kingsgate Native sadly proved to be completely infertile and therefore never made a stallion, instead heading back into training where he was gelded and went on to win both the Group Three King George Stakes and the Group Two Temple Stakes for Sir Michael Stoute – and then the Temple again in 2013 for Robert Cowell.

“I just wish he’d been fertile,” Best said.

“That’s one thing that’s upsetting from my point of view because I would have loved to have created a stallion.

“However, he was just a very special horse and I was very lucky to have him for the time I did.”

Upon retirement from racing in 2016, Kingsgate Native found himself a home at the British Racing School in Newmarket and remains there to this day, now aged 16, helping the upcoming generations of stable staff and jockeys learn their trade.

“He’s an absolute superstar and he knows it,” said Alison Harper, yard instructor at the British Racing School.

“He loves attention and he loves people. When they use him for the best turned out (competition), he comes out very proud of himself and prances around the yard.

“He’s a very good ride too, he didn’t have a reputation for being a good ride when he came to us but he’s just a bit cheeky, he’s a real asset to the school.

“The students are very proud to ride him, they go and tell their parents that they’ve just ridden Kingsgate Native.

“All the staff at Cheveley Park love him too. The stallion man who looked after him pops over to see him sometimes, as does Chris Richardson (managing director of the stud).

“He’s always going to have a home, they didn’t want him to be retired and just go out in a field and be bored, so he’s here and then when he’s done his job with us he’ll go back to Cheveley Park again.

“He is so popular because he’s just such a nice character, a lovely horse.”

Easterby relishing Nunthorpe bid with Winter Power

Tim Easterby is not afraid of taking on market leaders Golden Pal and Suesa with Winter Power in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

The three-year-old filly has won twice on the Knavesmire already this season, with her only defeat so far coming in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

She had last year’s Nunthorpe third Moss Gill behind her when winning last time out – and Easterby would love nothing more than to win one of the feature races of the season at one of his local tracks, an event last won by the family when his uncle Mick scored with Lochnager in 1976

“She’s in very good order and we know she likes it there,” said Easterby.

“She did a little piece of work on Saturday and went very well. She’s in great form.

“It can’t do any harm that she’s getting the allowances, both of them (age and sex).

“She’s in good form, I can’t wait. She’s fresher than most and I’m as confident as you can be going into a race like that.”

Suesa and Golden Pal heading for Nunthorpe showdown

French filly Suesa and American speedball Golden Pal are set for a mouthwatering clash in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday week.

Francois Rohaut’s Suesa looked every inch a top-class sprinter in the making after landing successive Group Three prize at Chantilly in the spring, but disappointed when favourite for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

However, she put that effort behind her with a thoroughly impressive display in the King George Stakes at Goodwood last month – a performance which delighted her trainer.

Rohaut said: “It was fantastic. We didn’t expect such a nice win.

“She showed that day that she’s a top-class filly. The going was perfect for her – and the strong pace.”

Suesa is currently completing her preparations for the £400,000 Nunthorpe in Deauville before crossing the Channel.

“The filly is OK, so the plan is to come (to York). It’s very exciting and we are very happy to be in this race,” Rohaut added.

Suesa returns to the Goodwood winner's enclosure under William Buick
Suesa returns to the Goodwood winner’s enclosure under William Buick (John Walton/PA)

“She had a good canter on Tuesday in Deauville where she’s staying. Everything is OK. I am very happy with her.

“I walked her (on Wednesday afternoon) and she was jumping everywhere and was very fresh and happy to be in Deauville.

“I hope she’ll be happy to go and to be in York.”

Suesa disputes favouritism with Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal, who made a successful start to his campaign in a Grade Three at Saratoga in July.

The three-year-old is due to arrive in York on Friday, and Ward hopes he can provide him with a first Nunthorpe success, having previously saddled both Acapulco and Lady Aurelia to finish second in the prestigious contest.

Of Golden Pal, Ward – who plans to fly in for the race – said: “He’s bigger, stronger, faster. I think we’re in good shape.

“He breezed on the grass at Keeneland (on Wednesday) – a really nice workout, a final piece of fast work.

“We’re ready to go. Everything’s going to plan.

“This time we’re hoping to get lucky!”

Fearby and Moss Gill set to fly flag for Bethell at York

Ed Bethell has his sights set on this month’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival with his stable stars Fearby and Moss Gill.

The Middleham-based trainer is aiming Dragon Stakes winner Fearby at the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes, with Moss Gill on course for the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes – in which he was a fine third to Battaash 12 months ago.

Fearby was last seen finishing second to Armor in the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood, and is expected to be suited by a first attempt at six furlongs.

Bethell is in his first season with a licence after taking over from his father, James.

He said of Fearby: “He ran very well at Goodwood. Maybe the draw bias played against us – he was a bit centre pack, rather than up that rail, while there was a strong head wind that day.

Fearby showed his ability in the Dragon Stakes at Sandown
Fearby showed his ability in the Dragon Stakes at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“We didn’t get any cover – that’s nobody’s fault, but just the way the race panned out. Would we have beaten the winner had we had a similar draw to him? It’s difficult to know.

“I was very happy with the way he ran – obviously we would have loved to have won, but the step up to six should be right up his street.

“He’s come out of that race really well – he’s very fresh. They’ll go a nice, good gallop on the flat six at York – and I hope he’ll hit the line strong.

“He’s not really ground dependent. He’s won on good to firm; he’s won on good to soft and he’s been second on soft. You’d almost think he needs a bit of rain, but I think you’ll see a better horse on a faster surface.”

Bethell revealed the £150,000 Group Two contest has been on the long-range radar for Fearby.

He added: “The owners are a northern-based syndicate, we’re a northern-based yard – and it was always the aim after he won the Listed race at Sandown to go for the Gimcrack. That’s been his main target this year.

“York is where we want to have winners – it’s where our catchment area is and it’s where all of our owners want to have runners. It will be a big thing for me to get the monkey off my back and saddle my first winner there.”

Fearby will be running at York for the first time, but Moss Gill has a long-standing affinity for the Knavesmire – most recently going down by just a length to smart filly Winter Power in the City Walls Stakes.

Bethell said: “I said to the owners we would work back from the Nunthorpe this year.

“His last run was probably his best run – giving Winter Power a lot of weight, having missed the break half a beat. He was only beaten a length and was closing towards the end of the race.

“The weights in the Nunthorpe play more into our hands than hers. While the opposition will obviously be different, with Suesa and Golden Pal potentially coming over … the absence of Battaash throws the race wide open.

“I think we’re an honest 10-1 shot – I wouldn’t expect us to be any shorter, but I wouldn’t expect us to be any longer either.

“He loves the track, and I’ve done a bit of stalls work with him to try and hit the lids a bit better. If we can do that, jump on terms and sit on the tails of the leaders, I think we can give them a little bit to worry about – given the way he’s come out of his last race.”

The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs from Wednesday August 18 to Saturday August 21.

Eyre eyeing Nunthorpe challenge for Bedford Flyer

Bedford Flyer is set to take on the big guns in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at York on August 20.

Running in the colours of Rachael and Paul Teasdale’s RP Racing Ltd, the Les Eyre-trained three-year-old already has winning form over the five furlongs of the Knavesmire and was only narrowly beaten in a valuable handicap at Ascot’s King George meeting.

While aware of the size of the task, Eyre is no stranger to glory at York – winning the Ebor in 1997 with 33-1 outsider Far Ahead.

Eyre, who is based at Ivy House Stables in Catwick, East Yorkshire, said: “The Nunthorpe is on the agenda. It might be being a bit ambitious – but he has never let us down yet.

“The Nunthorpe has been the owners’ dream for many years. It was the owners’ idea and we’ve looked at it and tried to work towards it.

“I’ve had one or two (fast ones) in the past – I have been at it 35 years. But having said all that, we wouldn’t have had any quicker, put it that way.

“We’ve won the Ebor in the past. So it would be nice if we could do it with the sprinters.”

While Bedford Flyer will be among the outsiders for the high-summer sprint showpiece, his trainer is convinced the son of Clodovil is on course to progress into a Group-class performer.

Eyre said: “There’s no doubt in my mind. But he is a little bit ground dependent. He would not want it soft – he doesn’t handle it.

“We’re absolutely delighted with him. We can’t get him a lot fitter.”

Eyre is also hoping to be represented at the Ebor Festival by Fame And Acclaim, who has an entry in the Clipper Logistics Heritage Handicap on August 19.

All systems go for Golden Pal’s Nunthorpe mission

Wesley Ward reports star sprinter Golden Pal to be firing on all cylinders ahead of an intended tilt at the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

Last season’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner made a spectacular return to action in the Grade Three Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga last month and Ward has now given the green light to a trip to the Knavesmire, with Frankie Dettori in line for the ride.

He said: “He had an unbelievable breeze on Saturday at Arlington Park and we’re headed for the Nunthorpe.

“Straight after his last race we really didn’t know what direction we were going. There was the option of waiting a couple more weeks for the Flying Five (at the Curragh), but he’s doing great and he’s scheduled to leave on August 13.

“I had a talk with Paul Shanahan (of Coolmore) and he had a talk with Mr Magnier, Mr Smith and Mr Tabor (owners). The Nunthorpe is kind of a stallion-maker race and carries a lot of weight at this time of year.

“He’s got a direct flight from Indianapolis to Stansted and then off we’ll go.

“Frankie is going to ride and we’re excited.”

Golden Pal’s task at York has, on paper at least, been made easier by the retirement of dual Nunthorpe hero Battaash, a horse Ward admits he is full of admiration for.

He added: “It’s always a shame for racing every time a great old warrior like that is retired.

“I have certainly been a big fan of his and have watched him for all these years. He got a big following, so any time the curtain is pulled down it’s never good for racing.

“I wouldn’t want to be taking him on when he’s breathing fire, that’s for sure!”