Connections hoping a return ‘home’ to York can spark Nunthorpe winner Winter Power back into life
Winter Power will be hoping a return to her home track will help her to recapture last season’s Group One-winning form when she runs in the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes at York today.
The daughter of Bungle Inthejungle won two of her first three starts in her Classic year for Great Habton trainer Tim Easterby, including victory in this race, before returning to the Knavesmire to take the laurels in the Group One Nunthorpe.
Subsequently tried in top-class company again on her next four starts – including two this season – she has been found wanting and trailed home 12th of 14 in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot on her previous outing.
Alastair Donald, racing manager for the filly’s King Power Racing owners, feels a drop in class on her favourite track may help restore confidence.
“She wasn’t quite right after her first two runs this year and hopefully we have got her back to her best,” said Donald.
“Obviously, she has a pretty good record at York, winning three from three there.
“There are not a lot of races for these good five-furlong horses, so the idea is to try to get her back on a winning vein and go back for the Nunthorpe.”
Bookmakers see the unbeaten Royal Aclaim as her biggest danger. James Tate’s runner flashed plenty of promise when beating the likes of subsequent three-time Group One winner Perfect Power and Listed scorer Fearby on her debut over five furlongs at Newcastle last May.
However, she suffered a setback and did not return until winning a novice very impressively at Bath four weeks ago.
Among her rivals are several decent handicappers taking a jump in class, including Karl Burke’s Korker, trained at Leyburn and a York winner earlier this season who justified favouritism when scoring over course and distance on his penultimate run, and Malton-based Julie Camacho’s Makanah, who has been placed in big-field handicaps on his last three starts.
The 63rd running of the John Smith’s Cup sees Nawton’s Roger Fell triple-handed for the £103,000 handicap.
Fell is represented by La Trinidad, Marie’s Diamond and Cockalorum.
The latter only went down by a head to Johnny Drama in last year’s renewal of the race. Fell’s assistant trainer Sean Murray said: “It was a great day. We almost thought we had it and it would’ve just capped our season, really, if we’d won that. It’s very nice to have a York winner, never mind the John Smith’s Cup winner.”
La Trinidad was the most fancied in the ante-post market, with David and Nicola Barron’s Baryshnikov the next best of the Yorkshire hopes.
The Barron stable won the 2009 renewal with Sirvino – the last White Rose victor of the showpiece.
The Queen is represented by Just Fine, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, while William Haggas’s Mahrajaan and Rogue Bear from Tom Clover’s stable are at the top end of the market.
Yesterday’s first day of the meeting saw Flotus live up to the pre-race expectation with an impressive victory in the feature race – the Group Three William Hill Summer Stakes at York.
Dropping in class and back to fillies-only company after finishing third in the Commonwealth Cup, Flotus was sent off the 9-4 favourite for the six-furlong feature in glorious sunshine.
Silvestre de Sousa kept a tight hold through the early exchanges as Gale Force Maya set the gallop, but when he allowed Flotus to stride on, she soon grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck.
Adaay To Remember and Gale Force Maya tried their best to get back on terms, but the Simon and Ed Crisford-trained Flotus was too good, coming home a length and three-quarters clear.
The Platinum Queen showed a superb turn of foot to win the William Hill Play Responsibly Irish EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes.
The Richard Fahey-trained two-year-old scored on her debut at Ripon last month and then ran to a mid-division finish in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.
A 3-1 chance under Oisin Orr on the Knavesmire, the Middleham Park-owned daughter of Cotai Glory shot into an early lead and was never troubled as Karl Burke’s highly-fancied Yahsat, the 8-11 favourite, failed to reel her back in before she crossed the line three and three-quarters of a length ahead.
“She’s quick, she’s very, very quick,” said Fahey. “You’d have imagined she (Yahsat) would have been wearing us down, but she’s just pulled away again.
“Oisin rides her out a lot and Callum (Rodriguez) too, you wouldn’t put any of the kids on her or she’d disappear off to Castle Howard!”
Hambleton-based Kevin Ryan’s Forza Orta returned to form to land the William Hill Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap at 7-2 under Kevin Stott.
The four-year-old looked to be on the up at the start of the season with a string of pleasing runs including a second-placed performance in the Race To The Ebor Jorvik Handicap.
The William Hill Pick Your Places Handicap was then claimed by Roger Varian’s Asaassi, the 6-5 favourite and a one-length winner under Cameron Noble.
Simon and Ed Crisford’s Saleymm was back to winning ways and capped a good day at York for the team when triumphant in the Azets Handicap.
Silvestre de Sousa was looking for a double on the card along with the Crisfords, with the trio having landed the feature race on Flotus.
Saleymm duly obliged, prevailing by a neck as the 7-4 favourite in the one-mile event.
“It’s been a very good day, it’s not very often you come to York with two runners and have two winners,” said Ed Crisford.
Ghathanfar tasted victory in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Handicap for Tracy Waggot and Dale Swift, crossing the line a two and a quarter lengths to the good at 4-1.
Trainer Ann Duffield completed the card with favourite Master Richard winning the last.