CONNECTIONS of Golden Pal and Suesa have confirmed that the respective sprint stars are pleasing in their preparations ahead of the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at York on Friday 20 August.
American ace, Golden Pal, ships from Indianapolis tonight ahead of arriving at the Knavesmire late tomorrow before his participation in this British Champions Series Sprint.
French filly, Suesa, is currently in Deauville before travelling across the Channel for the £400,000 Group 1.
Festival sponsors, Sky Bet can’t split the 5/2 joint-favourites for the five-furlong blitz that could also see fellow three-year-old speedsters, Dragon Symbol and Winter Power, in action.
Trainer Francois Rohaut considers his charge Suesa to be one of the “new generation” after Battaash – winner of the last two showcase sprints on the Knavesmire – who retired at the end of last month.
And Suesa certainly looked as if she’ll be at the forefront of the sprinting ranks for some time to come, when winning the Group 2 King George Stakes by three lengths at the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
Rohaut said: “It was fantastic. We didn’t expect such a nice win. She showed that day that she’s a top-class filly. The going was perfect for her – and the strong pace. It was really fantastic for everybody.”
Now Rohaut, whose main base is in Paul in the south-west of France is fine-tuning his new stable star for the step up to Group 1 company at York. It’s a course that Rohaut has been to before but not for several decades. He explained: “I went when I was working in Newmarket but it was 43 years ago. I was a pupil with Sir Mark Prescott and Harry Wragg.
“Sir Mark is fantastic. I saw he won a Group 1 (with Alpinista) on Sunday in Germany. I am always very pleased to see him winning a good race.”
It’s a feeling that’s reciprocated as Prescott sent Rohaut a congratulatory text after Suesa’s Goodwood triumph. If Suesa wins on Friday, Rohaut will likely receive another message from his old boss.
And all the signs are positive in the build-up to the eagerly-anticipated sprint clash.
Rohaut said: “The filly is okay, so the plan is to come. It’s very exciting and we are very happy to be in this race.
“She had a good canter on Tuesday in Deauville where she’s staying. Everything is okay. I am very happy with her. I walked her (on Wednesday afternoon) and she was jumping everywhere and was very fresh and happy to be in Deauville. And I hope she’ll be happy to go and to be in York.”
Like Suesa, Golden Pal will also head to York on the back of winning form. He ran out a comfortable three-length winner of a Grade 3 at Saratoga in mid-July on his seasonal return. He was an impressive two-year-old, winning the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, as well as finishing second in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
And his trainer Wesley Ward believes Golden Pal is an even better prospect in his three-year-old campaign.
Ward said: “He’s bigger, stronger, faster. I think we’re in good shape.”
He also outlined how Golden Pal pleased in a spin on Wednesday morning. Ward added: “He breezed on the grass at Keeneland – a really nice workout, a final piece of fast work. We’re ready to go. Everything’s going to plan.”
Ward has found only one too good on his two previous attempts to land the Coolmore-sponsored Nunthorpe Stakes. In 2015, Acapulco was beaten two lengths by Mecca’s Angel and then in 2017 Lady Aurelia went down by a mere nose to Marsha in a thrilling photo-finish.
Ward, who will fly in for the race, said: “This time we’re hoping to get lucky!”
The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs from Wednesday 18 August until Saturday 21 August inclusively.
For tickets please call 01904 620911 x 225 or visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk