The Day 3 highlight at the Ebor Meeting is a real treat for sprint fans, with the Nunthorpe Stakes regularly recognised as one of the top events of its type in world racing. That fantastic reputation naturally helps it attract a high quality field and there are many top sprinters involved each year.
The race was created in 1922 and is named after the area of the city which adjoins the north-east part of the racecourse. It is one of only a few races open to juveniles, resulting in winners ranging from two to nine years old in recent times.
Nunthorpe Stakes Past Winners
|2020||Battaash||1/2||Charles Hills||Jim Crowley|
|2019||Battaash||7/4||Charles Hills||Jim Crowley|
|2018||Alpha Delfini||40/1||Bryan Smart||Graham Lee|
|2017||Marsha||8/1||Mark Prescott||Luke Morris|
|2016||Mecca’s Angel||9/2||Michael Dods||Paul Mulrennan|
|2015||Mecca’s Angel||15/2||Michael Dods||Paul Mulrennan|
|2014||Sole Power||11/4||Edward Lynam||Richard Hughes|
|2013||Jwala||40/1||Robert Cowell||Steve Drowne|
|2012||Ortensia||7/2||Paul Messara||William Buick|
|2011||Margot Did||20/1||Michael Bell||Hayley Turner|
About the Nunthorpe Stake: The Five Furlong Knavesmire Charge
The Nunthorpe Stakes has come a long way from its humble origins as low grade selling race inaugurated in 1903. This is not seen as the true birth of the event though as it was only in 1922 when it first ran under its present format. Handed a sudden boost of prestige following the change, the Nunthorpe, which is named after the area in York in which the racecourse lies, has gone from strength to strength.
Today, races don’t come much bigger on the Knavesmire with this Group 1 sprint among the top five furlong events on the planet. Official recognition of its elevated status came in 2017 when the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities announced it as being the joint best sprint event alongside the July Cup. This award came just six years after the Nunthorpe joined an exclusive list of races that formed part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
What also helps make the Nunthorpe so special is that it provides two-year-old horses with a rare chance to take on their elders on a huge stage. Any horse aged two years and above is eligible to compete, meaning that it also stands as only Group 1 event in Britain where minimum aged geldings can take part.
WINNERS OF ALL AGES
When trying to pick the winner of the Nunthorpe Stakes, don’t think that there is any use whatsoever in looking at a horse’s age. Champions range from the young to the very old in what is a race with a quite uniquely diverse winners list. In earlier decades three and four year olds dominated the sprint but the picture has changed quite substantially in more recent renewals as you can see from the chart below.
What really catches the eye from the above chart is that we’ve had both a two year old and nine year old champion this century. Kingsgate Native stands as the youngest champion of the race and following his win in 2007, owner John Mayne said he was surprised “that very few two year olds have taken their chance in the Nunthorpe.” Despite his personal feelings, minimum aged horses have a remained a rarity in this race even in spite of their large weight advantage.
SOLE POWER TAKES OFF
Able to attract a top quality array of speedsters from across the globe, the Nunthorpe Stakes always has some strong names heading the betting each renewal. Those tipped to fare best often have the spotlight stolen from them though with only two favourites (including one joint favourite) triumphing during the 16 renewals up to 2019. In the same time frame we’ve seen more than a fair share of genuine shocks such as Jwala in 2013 and Alpha Delphini five years later, both at odds of 40/1.
Providing by far the big upset of the lot though was Sole Power in the 2010 edition of the Nunthorpe. Offering absolutely no form coming into the big race and a low official rating of 104, the eventual superstar failed to get a mention during the pre-race chatter. Setting off at odds of 100/1, nothing at all was expected from the three year old but a strong surge during the final half furlong saw him stun the 6/4 favourite, Starspangledbanner.
Having proven his ability at the highest level for the first time, Sole Power went on to win another eight Group level contests during a very lucrative career.
SOLE POWER’S GROUP RACE VICTORIES
|2015||Flying Five Stakes||Curragh||Group 2||5f||€120k|
|2015||Al Quoz Sprint||Meydan||Group 1||5f||£385k|
|2014||Nunthorpe Stakes||York||Group 1||5f||£150k|
|2014||King’s Stand Stakes||Ascot||Group 1||5f||£213k|
|2014||Palace House Stakes||Newmarket||Group 3||5f||£37k|
|2013||King’s Stand Stakes||Ascot||Group 1||5f||£198k|
|2013||Palace House Stakes||Newmarket||Group 3||5f||£34k|
|2011||Temple Stakes||Haydock||Group 2||5f||£45k|
|2010||Nunthorpe Stakes||York||Group 1||5f||£136k|
MAKE IT A DOUBLE?
We’ve already mentioned how Sole Power made history in this race but the son of Kyllachy wasn’t quite done there. Three years after his initial triumph, the distinctive sprinter was back at York winning the Nunthorpe once again. He’s one of ten horses who has successfully won this race more than once, although never previously have the wins come so far apart. Other recent double champions include Mecca’s Angel (2015, 2016) and Borderlescott (2008, 2009).
Of the ten horses who have enjoyed repeat success, two of them have done so on three occasions. Tag End was the first (1928-30) with York specialist Sharpo becoming the next to pull off a hat-trick a little over fifty years later. Given the competition this race attracts, winning it once is hard enough so three times is a feat unlikely to ever be bettered. Sole Power’s record in the Nunthorpe really emphasises the point as the two-time champion also finished third, fourth, seventh and ninth during other efforts.
MULTIPLE NUNTHORPE STAKES Winning Horses: 1922 – 2019
|Tag End||C. Peck||1928||1929||1930|
|Mecca’s Angel||Michael Dods||2015||2016|
|Sole Power||Edward Lynam||2010||2014|
|Right Boy||Bill Dutton & Pat Rohan||1958||1959|
|Royal Serenade||Harry Wragg||1951||1952|
|Highborn II||Captain O.M.D Bell||1926||1927|