Starspangledbanner can call the tune
STARSPANGLEDBANNER has had his courage and class tested at the highest level.
Now comes the supreme test of speed in today's Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York -- and this, too, should be passed with flying colours.
It is difficult to find a horse with an even blend of the above-mentioned attributes, yet the Australian-bred colt with the American name has proved that he is well equipped in all departments.
His class was tested in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and his speed and hidden reserves of stamina were evident when he took the Darley July Cup at Newmarket -- both over six furlongs.
Johnny Murtagh knew that Starspangledbanner had speed to burn, so he was able to attempt the daring manoeuvre of crossing to the far rail in the July Cup -- which led to a costly ban. But later, the colt then had to pull out something extra to repel the chasing pack when they hit the rising ground.
Having been drawn on the outside of the 13-runner field, Murtagh is in the perfect position to dictate throughout, particularly as the stalls are placed on the far side.
Punters should be aware of Starspangledbanner's versatility -- he has won the Caulfield Guineas over a mile and the Oakleigh Plate, which is run over five and a half furlongs and is one of the trickiest sprint races in Australia.
"We were delighted with him at Newmarket," trainer Aidan O'Brien said. "Obviously he was drawn out a little bit that day. He's a very straightforward horse. He shows a lot of speed at home and he's brave at the end of his races. He'd be happy to get a lead or he'd be happy to make the running.
"From the first time he worked, he always looked a very good horse. He looked that in Australia but the thing that surprised us was that he was able to get a mile with that kind of speed. He's a great horse and we're looking forward to seeing him run again."
Fleeting Spirit, last year's July Cup winner, has not enjoyed the best of luck when it has come to the draw, yet she remains a top-class sprinter with at least one more big race in her. She can never be underestimated, while Equiano has been a model on consistency this season and looks next best. (©Daily Telegraph, London)
1.45 -- Zuider Zee
2.15 -- Rainbow Peak
2.50 -- Treadwell
3.25 -- Starspangledbanner (nap)
4.05 -- Ollon
4.40 -- Deauville Flyer