x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Horse racing: Jwala trumps speedster rivalry at Nunthorpe Stakes

Filly pulls upset as Shea Shea edges Sole Power for second place and Godolphin score undercard treble at York Racecourse, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

Jockey Steve Drowne rides Jwala, right, to a win in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York Racecourse on Friday. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Jockey Steve Drowne rides Jwala, right, to a win in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York Racecourse on Friday. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

YORK, ENGLAND // Shea Shea and Sole Power were separated by the smallest margin in their five meetings this year but both were beaten to the prize by Jwala, who produced a huge upset in the Nunthorpe Stakes here on Friday.

Shea Shea led his long-standing rival 3-1 going into the Group 1 contest, and a photo-finish was required to separate them, but once again the Al Quoz sprint winner prevailed by a nose, in second.

Shea Shea looked to come with a late run under Frankie Dettori down the outside of the field and was pressed all the way by Johnny Murtagh, who had been slipstreaming on Sole Power.

Neither horse operates on soft going, however, and after 20 millimetres of rain had lashed the Knavesmire overnight it was left to Jwala to follow in the hoof prints of 2012 winner Ortensia and Margot Did, the 2011 winner, to score one for the fillies.

"He was battling to get out of it and really quicken with the turn of foot he has," Mike de Kock, the trainer, said of Shea Shea's run. "It is not an excuse as he's run well for second.

"He's held his form with Sole Power. There is never much between them."

The first three home could meet again in France in the Group 1 Prix l'Abbaye de Longchamp, even though the Paris track can get extremely wet on the first Sunday in October.

"The track would suit as it is a flat five furlongs, but it can get soft there," De Kock said. "There is only one Abbaye, though, so if we get there we'll run."

Jwala is trained just outside Newmarket by Robert Cowell, who is a regular visitor to the Dubai World Cup Carnival. But he ruled out a trip to Meydan with the four-year-old filly.

"She will be retired after Paris," he said. "The result was not a surprise to me as she's very uncomplicated and has a good turn of foot.

"I thought she was a Group filly as a three-year-old. We've had no winners for four or five weeks until this week, so it's been a bit of a relief."

Godolphin dominated the under card with a treble for Saeed bin Suroor and Silvestre De Sousa.

The duo's successes began with Ahzeemah, who held off the determined challenge of Simenon in a riveting battle to land the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup, and then followed up with fellow Carnival runner City Style, who took the Group 3 Strensall Stakes.

The trainer and jockey struck again when Golden Town took the maiden over seven furlongs.

Azheemah is being considered for the Melbourne Cup, a race Godolphin has never won. Bin Suroor and Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford, have a month to work out their options before horses must enter quarantine.

Godolphin also has Royal Empire pencilled in for the race at Flemington Racecourse on November 5, and both may have one more run before getting on the plane.

"I don't think we have ever had a horse that tries as hard as he does," Crisford said of Ahzeemah. "You know when he gets engaged in a head to head you'll get your money's worth.

"We love the Emirates Melbourne Cup as it is one of the events of the year and hopefully he will get enough weight to get in the race."

If not, Crisford said, Ahzeemah could be steered towards the stayers race on British Champion's Day in October.


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