Gold-en touch in Nunthorpe
Matt Brocklebank previews Friday's Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes and feels now's the time for Goldream to return to winning ways.
Goldream (yellow silks) pictured winning last year's King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot
The 2016 running of the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes promises to be a stunning spectacle of class and speed and GOLDREAM simply has to be backed at the general 14/1 on offer ahead of Friday's Group One at York.
Trainer Robert Cowell, whose website proudly adorns the tag line 'Sprint to Success…', has become an absolute master when it comes to harnessing and developing raw speed in a thoroughbred – highlighted by the various exploits of Prohibit, Kingsgate Native, Outback Travelling, Spirit Quartz, and Goldream himself – and he has four runners entered in this week's top-quality dash.
They include Spirit Quartz, plus Iffranesia and promising two-year-old Price Of Lir, but Goldream is without question the stable's first choice and Martin Harley, who formed a strong partnership with the son of Oasis Dream last season, is already declared as the intended rider.
Goldream's 2015 campaign saw him scale new heights in the division when, at the age of six, he opened his Group One account in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Less than four months later he was back in the groove when landing the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp and although he was beaten into fourth in the Nunthorpe between those top-level triumphs, there was an obvious excuse for that slightly lesser effort – namely the good to soft ground.
Goldream must have ground on the fast side to be seen at his very best, with all six career turf wins coming on good or good to firm going.
With that in mind, finishing within five lengths of Mecca's Angel 12 months ago has to go down as another seriously decent effort, while it's also worth pointing out that the York track doesn't hold any fears as he was only narrowly denied when trying to concede weight to Muthmir in the 2014 running of the Sky Bet Dash.
This season has been a slightly strange one, connections opting to target the Al Quoz Sprint in Meydan earlier in the year. That two-race campaign ended in disappointment but the horse has been given plenty of time to recover from his travels and returned to these shores with an excellent third – beaten half a length – behind Take Cover and Washington DC in the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
He seems certain to strip fitter for that first public outing since March and, for a proven top-class performer who looks likely to get his preferred ground (good to firm currently with a dry forecast until the possibility of rain on Friday), appears to have been significantly underestimated by the layers alongside nine-year-old Goodwood specialist Take Cover in the market.
It's not that Limato is a false favourite. Henry Candy's four-year-old possesses that little bit of attitude which tends to accompany the most special of talents, though he left nobody in doubt as to his quality when fairly bolting up in the July Cup last month.
He's been supplemented into the race at considerable cost and is another who will relish the prevailing ground.
However, there are questions to answer, primarily the fact he's dropping down to the minimum trip for the first time in his career and, given Candy was angling towards a return to a mile for the Sussex Stakes in the immediate aftermath at Newmarket, that has to be considered a slight concern.
He also has no previous experience of racing at York, which in itself isn't a massive issue but together with the new distance is certainly enough to resist steaming in at skinny prices.
Next in the market is this year's King's Stand hero, Profitable. He was promoted to an official mark of 117 following his Ascot triumph, 3lb ahead of Goldream but only 1lb higher than the latter's peak figure of last summer.
Clive Cox's charge was no match for Limato when asked to tackle six furlongs in the July Cup and dropping back to his favoured five furlongs is an obvious plus, though the discrepancy in price between himself and Goldream just doesn't add up, especially when you consider Profitable is clearly happier when he can get his toe in.
The Michael Dods-trained pair of Mecca's Angel – last year's winner – and Easton Angel, are a little harder to weigh up and we're also faced with the distinct possibility that one of them could be rerouted elsewhere.
If there's firm in the going description then the one to miss out could well be Mecca's Angel and as she's around 6/1 then that would obviously take out a fair chunk of the market.
She ticks just about all the right boxes otherwise having consigned her Royal Ascot no-show to the past with a taking defeat of the progressive Brando at the Curragh. Were the the rain to arrive earlier and heavier than expected then she could prove the one they all have to beat, but I'd fancy Goldream to at least bridge the gap from last year on a sound surface.
The two-year-olds always add an interesting dimension to this race, Kingsgate Native the last of that age group to actually deliver back in 2007.
Cowell's Prince Of Lir could be joined by Mark Johnston's pair of Yalta and The Last Lion, though none of them have hinted they're Group One winners-in-waiting.
Yalta is possibly the most dangerous after breaking Goodwood's juvenile track record in the Molecomb Stakes, where he had The Last Lion three lengths in arrears.
That was his first try at the trip and there should be more to come but, at single-figure odds, he hasn't been missed in the market which isn't the case with Goldream, who rates the standout ante-post bet ahead of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
Posted at 1410 BST on 14/08/16.