queens Park Rangers football manager Harry Redknapp will celebrate the biggest win of his racing ‘career’ if his Moviesta wins today’s Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York – but victory would have even greater significance for the horse’s jockey, Paul Mulrennan.
The Boroughbridge rider is seeking a first Group One triumph in Britain and believes that Redknapp’s sprinter, trained at Hambleton by Bryan Smart, represents his best chance of achieving this landmark success.
“This is what the job is all about, days like this,” Mulrennan told the Yorkshire Post. “It’s not only having a ride in a Group One but going into a Group One with a real live chance.
“Harry is an absolute gentleman. He doesn’t get too involved but he’s very nice to deal with. Hopefully, he and the other owners will buy more horses.”
After Redknapp bought Moviesta following a chance conversation with Smart as the horse passed through the sales ring, Mulrennan, 31, was instrumental in persuading his friend Will Salthouse, a football agent, and his sponsor, Ritchie Fiddes, to become co-owners.
That decision was vindicated when Moviesta galloped into the Nunthorpe reckoning, the day three highlight of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, when landing the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood from the William Buick-ridden Swiss Spirit, another of today’s significant players.
“He’s done nothing but improve with each race,” added Mulrennan, who has previously found success at the Ebor meeting to be elusive. “He’s only three and is only going to get better.
“It’s going to be quick ground and a fast race. Hopefully, I will get him switched off and then come with a late rattle. I wouldn’t want to change him for anything else in the race.”
The Nunthorpe is being billed as a global encounter between Ireland’s Sole Power, a shock 100-1 winner of the 2010 race, and Mike de Kock’s Shea Shea as the top South African trainer – just like Mulrennan – seeks a first Group One in the UK.
Just a neck separated the two great horses in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot when Sole Power prevailed under an inspired Johnny Murtagh.
However, Shea Shea just edged his rival when the pair chased home Clive Cox’s Lethal Force in Newmarket’s July Cup and the booking of Frankie Dettori for the South African horse could be significant; the former champion has much to prove following his drugs ban.
Yet, as Mulrennan points out, the race is likely to be decided by split-second decisions – Ortensia came from near last to first 12 months ago – and Moviesta leads a very powerful Yorkshire contingent with Kevin Ryan, Smart’s neighbour, saddling York Glory and the outsider, Tiddliwinks.
Tim Easterby will be hoping the ground is not too fast for last year’s third, Hamish McGonagall, while the sentimental winner would be Robin Bastiman’s ageless warrior Bordlerscott, who won the 2008 and 2009 renewals for the Wetherby trainer.
Today will be the horse’s 70th career start – he has 14 wins to his name – and the 11-year-old takes his place in the line-up after failing to enjoy his retirement.
Eleventh to Moviesta at Goodwood, he ran with promise at Ripon last weekend and Bastiman said: “It was a last-minute decision. He’s got his fast ground. He’s got nothing to lose and a lot of people would like to see him run.
“It takes time for him to get going each year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the first five or six, possibly the first three.
“These top horses have been on the go for a long time since Dubai in the winter and can’t keep doing it.
“There’s still a race to be won for the old boy – it was like with Sue and Harvey Smith’s Mister McGoldrick. It’s better than him being out in a field being bitten by flies.”