Cowell hopes Prohibit will keep sprint title off limits to his rivals

 

With the search for a sprint star still on, the spotlight will be on next week's Nunthorpe Stakes at York and, in particular, the latest Group One-winning speedster to put a newly gained reputation on the line. Step forward Prohibit, who made his first appearance at the top level in this country a winning one when he beat one of Australia's best, Star Witness, fair and square in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

Or perhaps that should be thunder forward. Prohibit, the pride of Robert Cowell's small string, thrives on the sort of breakneck gallop that allows him to track the pace and pounce late. He got it at Ascot and is likely to get it again over the minimum trip on the Knavesmire.

The six-year-old gelding also thrives on work – Royal Ascot was his ninth appearance of the year – and, if his recent exercise on the Newmarket gallops is a guide, is happy to be back in the groove after a short break. He left his lead horse eating dust five days ago and will have another session tomorrow morning.

Cowell, who has just 32 horses under his care, acquired Prohibit nearly two years ago for as a cast-off from the Khalid Abdullah empire and the partnership-owned late developer has proved the best he has ever had. "He's the one there to be shot at," he said yesterday, "but I'm really looking forward to it. And so long as there's a good pace in the race I think he'll run really well."

Neither Dream Ahead nor Society Rock, the season's other two domestic Group One sprint winners, has been able to follow up their victories. Nor, indeed, have Delegator or Sole Power, successful in earlier warm-ups a grade down. "It's like ours is the defending champion, at least over five furlongs," added Cowell. "He took a bit of pulling up after his work last Friday, so he's in good order."

Prohibit is around 8-1 for the £240,000 purse, behind Hoof It, Bapak Chinta, Sole Power and Bated Breath in the betting.

The publication of the outcome of the inquiry into alleged breaches of the rules relating to horse welfare by Howard Johnson has been delayed. The result – and any penalties could involve a lengthy ban – had been expected today but may not be revealed until tomorrow, which is, ironically, the trainer's 58th birthday.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Dark Ambition (3.00 Salisbury) Produced his best effort last time out when second at Epsom, despite a slow start and seeming unsuited by the fast downhill run. Seven furlongs and a more conventional track may aid his cause on his handicap debut.

Next best

Dubawi Dancer (6.05 Yarmouth) Has been making hay this summer as the handicapper tries to catch her – she won for the fourth time when completing a hat-trick five days ago – and may still be underestimated.

One to watch

Despite a defeat last time out Ithoughtitwasover (Mark Johnston) is developing into a tough performer typical of his stable and should be kept on side.

Where the money's going

Royal Ascot-winning two-year-old Bapak Chinta has been backed from 6-1 to 9-2 with Boylesports for the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

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