THE record books will show that super sprinter Sole Power won a second Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes in five years by half a length under champion jockey Richard Hughes.
Yet the facts will never do justice to the dramatic denouement to this five-furlong sprint which changed in complexion in the final six strides as the winner turned on the power to confirm his status as one of the all-time great speedsters.
Stuck behind a wall of horses as the winning post approached, a narrow gap showed between Yorkshire-trained sprinters Moviesta and Hot Streak – and Hughes did not wait for a second invitation to complete this highlight reel ride.
The acceleration was instantaneous. Within seconds, Sole Power was level and even had sufficient time to render the photo-finish operator redundant as he pulled clear of the Stepper Point with ease.
It was an action replay of the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot when the mercurial Hughes and Sole Power denied the luckless Stepper Point in the shadow of the winning post.
Of the strong Yorkshire contingent, Moviesta, Hot Streak and G Force were fourth, fifth and sixth for Bryan Smart, Kevin Ryan and David O’Meara respectively with Take Cover back in eighth for Bawtry trainer David Griffiths.
The win further confirmed Sole Power, a shock 100-1 winner of the 2010 Nunthorpe, as one of Flat racing’s all-time great sprinters as he followed Yorkshire legend Borderlescott in becoming a dual winner of this prestigious Group One.
It also vindicated the decision of trainer Eddie Lynam to purchase the unproven horse at Doncaster Sales in 2008 for a bargain £32,000 – the seven-year-old’s career earnings now top £1.5m.
Owned by David and Sabena Power, who head the Paddy Power betting dynasty, their five-year-old Slade Power has been equally successful – this season’s wins are headlined by the Royal Ascot’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes and the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.
Yesterday’s triumph means that Lynam and the Power family have won all four British Group One sprints so far this season, a remarkable record of consistency in races where the outcome of races depends on split-second decision-making by jockeys.
“Two weeks ago, Sole Power had American ringworm; we had to get him right for it and we had only 10 days to train him,” said the County Meath-based trainer.
“He’s a super horse, a horse of a lifetime, it’s just the way he does it. I think those are the rides Richard likes. He enjoys it more than we do but he was excellent on him – full credit to him, he’s a top-class jockey and it was a first-class ride. I always felt he was going to get there.
“We haven’t run him in Ireland for a good few years. There’s a race on Champions Weekend and we’d like to support it. We’ll give him a blow out in Longchamp in the Abbaye, keep him ticking over and then Hong Kong.”
As for the nerveless Hughes, his smile was as wide as the Irish Sea as he returned to the winner’s enclosure on the well-backed 11-4 favourite after one of the defining moments of the 2014 Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival. “He’s brilliant, he’s made for me. When I was 14 or 15 I dreamed about riding horses like this, and doing it like that,” said the rider.
In other action, Dermot Weld’s Pale Mimosa kept the Queen’s fast finishing Estimate at bay to claim the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup.
The Doncaster Cup and Irish St Leger are both possible targets for Her Majesty’s runner – while the Melbourne Cup is still on the agenda according to Her Majesty’s racing manager John Warren.
“The Queen will have a big input in making the decision on whether she does go to Australia.
“The Queen won’t be able to make the trip, so if the filly is going to travel, it will have to be on her own merits,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Mallard Stakes at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting beckons for Glenard who took the opener for jockey William Buick and trainer Charlie Hills.
This season’s leading apprentice Oisin Murphy then celebrated his new tie-up with Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing by partnering Absolutely So in the Sky Bet City of York Stakes, a seven-furlong race which deserves to be upgraded in status to Group class.
Murphy, this season’s leading apprentice, replaces the luckless Harry Bentley in the number two role with Qatar Racing, with the in-form Andrea Atzeni succeeding the soon-to-retire Jamie Spencer as the number one rider.
Atzeni, who won Wednesday’s Great Voltigeur Stakes aboard Postponed, rides De Rigueur in today’s Ebor.
Yorkshire owner Ritchie Fiddes hopes Fendale can maintain his unbeaten record in today’s Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes.
Unbeaten from two starts, the juvenile – trained at Hambleton by Bryan Smart – was entered in the Group Two before his debut win at Beverley. “He hasn’t been touched with the whip yet so we’ve no idea how good he is,” said Fiddes.
Another unbeaten colt is Irish raider Accepted whose trainer Tommy Stack won the 1977 Grand National on Red Rum.