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Those searching for redemption might be better advised to stop by York's glorious gothic Minster rather than visit the suitably rakish-sounding Knavesmire. But for One Cool Cat on Thursday a five-furlong dash will decide whether he is a US$3m flop or a potential superstar with designs on the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
For One Cool Cat the Victor Chandler Nunthorpe Stakes is make or break time. This son of US super-sire Storm Cat was the most hyped horse in training during the winter. Sent off as favourite in the 2,000 Guineas, Richard Hills, the winning jockey on Haafhd would have been lucky to spot him with binoculars. He was then discovered to have an irregular heartbeat and cynics wondered whether we would ever see him on a racecourse again.
His road back from perdition began last month in the Phoenix Sprint Stakes in Ireland. This horse, expected to take the Classics by storm, has now been reborn as a sprinter and Thursday's race will see if he can live up to his reinvented destiny.
He is likely to start as favourite, but only a truly scintillating display would justify a trip to the US. Besides, a horse that has flopped ignominiously twice and then won only a Group 3, a horse with known medical problems, unproven on ground this soft and a need to be produced very late is hardly a “good thing”.
One Cool Cat may well win and there will be much joy in heaven (and Ballydoyle) for a sinner-saved. But for punters a little bit each-way on Avonbridge might be a more sensible option. He may be just short of Group One class but unlike most of the field is proven on the ground.
Earlier on the card the juvenile speedsters are put to the test in the Jaguar Lowther Stakes. This looks to be a match between Soar, second in the Queen Mary and winner of the Princess Margaret Stakes and exciting Goodwood maiden winner Suez. On breeding (and a 480,000 guineas purchase price) Suez looks the one. Her sire, Green Desert excels with two-year old sprinters.
The day's opener the EBF Galtres Stakes is an intriguing contest. Selebela from Luca Cumani's yard has to be respected as the wily Newmarket trainer has won this race an incredible eight times since 1990. But she has shown a marked preference for faster ground than she is likely to encounter here. Irish raider Tarakala looks worth chancing.
York 2:10 Tarakala (each-way)
York 2:45 Suez (win)
York 3:20 Avonbridge (each-way)
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