Like mother, like daughter. There is every chance that the Nunthorpe Stakes at York a week tomorrow will be enlivened by the presence of speedy, unbeaten two-year-old filly Enticing. The five-furlong Group One dash is one of the few races in the calendar where the youngest generation can take on their elders but if such a task - and it is a daunting one - is in a horse's genes, then it is in Enticing's. Her dam, Superstar Leo, faced senior sprinters in her first season, in the Prix de l'Abbaye, and finished second.
Both were trained by Newmarket-based William Haggas, who must decide by Saturday whether to pay the £22,000 supplementary entry fee on behalf of Enticing's owners, US-based Roy and Gretchen Jackson. "There's a strong possibility of her running," said Haggas yesterday. "For a horse like her, a Group winning, sprint-bred two-year-old, there are not many five-furlong options. The next obvious two-year-old race is the Flying Childers, but I'd want her to have a run before."
Superstar Leo won the Flying Childers Stakes, usually run at the St Leger meeting at Doncaster but this year transferred to the Knavesmire. As a cheap buy-in at auction, she was able to take in the Super Sprint at Newbury en route, an option not open to her homebred offspring, who won the Molecomb Stakes by a whisker last time out.
"There's no point in her carrying a penalty in a Listed," reasoned Haggas, "so that brings in the Nunthorpe. And as a two year-old filly, she'll get all the allowances and it's a hell of a weight difference. She'll be carrying only 7st 12lb."
Only four two-year-olds have ever won a Nunthorpe in the 77 runnings for which they have been eligible since the race was established in its present form (it started life as a seller in 1903) in 1922. The first three, all colts, came within four years: High Treason in 1953, My Beau the following year and Ennis in 1956. Then there was a hiatus until Lyric Fantasy entered the record books in 1992 as the first juvenile filly to take the York showpiece. Since then, just two of her age have run, the no-hopers Perugino Bay and Speedy James eight years ago.
Enticing, whose sire Pivotal won the Nunthorpe 10 years ago, may take after her dam in aptitude but not in looks or temperament. "She weighs 485 kilos, which is 63 more than Superstar Leo," said Haggas. "She's bigger and taller all round. The other difference is their temperament; the mother was very laid back until she got out of the stalls, but this one is a bit fizzy. This is a bit of a concern, because at York they have to walk across from the stables, but the Flying Childers is at York so she'd better get used to it."
At Goodwood this month Enticing took her record to three from three by showing terrier-like qualities, as well as speed, to beat Wi Dud on the nod. "We don't know the value of the form," added Haggas, "but the third, Bahama Mama, is pretty good and Wi Dud is all but unbeaten too, and if he goes and wins the Gimcrack I'd feel disappointed not to be in the Nunthorpe."
Nicky Mackay, who can do the weight comfortably and rides work for Haggas, will be in the saddle. "I respect horses like Dandy Man and La Cucaracha, but with no outstanding sprinter around this might be the year to have a go. She's very fast."
Luck may be turning the way of Enticing's owners with the news that their stricken Kentucky Derby hero Barbaro, whose life has been in the balance since he hideously shattered a hind leg in the Preakness Stakes in May and then developed laminitis in the other hind hoof, is recovering to the extent that he is being allowed out to graze on a lead at the University of Pennsylvania veterinary hospital.
The three-day York meeting opens on Tuesday with the International, the first of the trio of top-level contests at the last of the summer festivals. The William Muir-trained Enforcer, less than three lengths behind Hurricane Run when fourth in the King George at Ascot on his most recent run, signalled his readiness for that fray with an impressive gallop yesterday morning.
The consistent four-year-old steps down to 10 furlongs after five outings at a mile and a half. "I think it will suit him," said Muir. "They'll go faster; in his last few races he seems to have gone there to win and then just got outstayed. His work this morning was magnificent."
NB: Silent Storm
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