BRYAN SMART is unfazed by the threat posted by superstar sprinter Battaash after confirming that Alpha Delphini will be an intended runner in York’s Nunthorpe Stakes – one of the sprints of the year – later this month.
Now seven, Alpha Delphini has been placed in all four starts this season, most notably York’s City Wall Stakes on John Smith’s Cup day when a close second to Richard Fahey’s Mr Lupton.
And while Battaash was simply superlative when winning Goodwood’s King George Stakes last Friday from the David Griffiths-trained veteran Take Cover, Hambleton-based Smart does not think there is much between the rest of the sprinting division – Battaash excepted.
Like Alpha Delphini’s half brother Tangerine Trees whom Smart trained to win the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye, the trainer believes his Yorkshire challenger is getting better with age and has, in fact, been beaten less than a length on all four starts this season.
“I think we’ll have a crack at the Nunthorpe,” said Smart.
“He likes it at York and there’s a hell of a lot of prize-money on offer.
“I know Battaash looked unbeatable at Goodwood, but he boiled over at York last year and you can never be afraid of one.
“Behind him at Goodwood, the rest were in a heap. We’ve beaten the second (Take Cover) already this year, so if we’d run there, we’d have been in that group.”
Smart is weighing up options at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting for his unbeaten juvenile Antagonize.
A winner at Newcastle on debut, he then followed up at Redcar under a penalty.
He now needs to decide whether to step up to Group Two company in the Howcroft Industrial Supplies Champagne Stakes or run in the Weatherbys Racing Bank £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes off a low weight.
“He’s still a big baby, really, so it wouldn’t bother me if we had just one more run and then put him away for next year,” said the trainer.
“When he hit the front at Newcastle on debut, he clearly didn’t know what he was doing, but everything comes so easily to him.
“At Redcar he was only a little bit more clued up, but he had to win the race twice. Nothing could give him a lead and then when something came out of the pack, he had to go again.
“Graham (Lee) has given him two lovely educational rides and he’s a very exciting horse for the future.
“At the moment I’d say he’d be more likely to run in the sales race, because he’s only down to carry 8st 9lb and it’s worth a hell of a lot more than the Champagne.”
David Menuisier is looking at races in England, France and Germany for Thundering Blue following his victory in the Group Two Sky Bet York Stakes last month.
A return to the Knavesmire – where he has won twice from three starts and finished second in the John Smith’s Cup – for a crack at the Group One Juddmonte International on August 22 could be on the cards, if the ground was soft enough.