Power chases Nunthorpe double
Eddie Lynam has warned Sole Power was in better form earlier in the season ahead of his run in Friday's Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
The seven-year-old caused a 100-1 surprise in the Group One four years ago and has since gone on to prove himself as one of the best sprinters on the planet.
He won the King's Stand at Royal Ascot in June but was a late withdrawal from the July Cup, won by stablemate Slade Power, on account of soft ground. However, he has since suffered a skin infection and missed some training.
"Since being forced to miss the July Cup because of the soft ground he has had a bad skin infection, like ringworm or dermatitis, which forced him to miss 10 days of training. We had to have his rugs off the whole time, which was not ideal, but it is better that it happened in the summer, when it is warmer, and he has been back in full training for two weeks and worked well on Tuesday morning," said Lynam.
"My gut feeling is that he may not be quite in the same form as he was before Royal Ascot, but he is coming back to himself day by day so we will take him to York hopeful rather than confident. This will be the fourth time that he has run in the Nunthorpe. He is about 45 kilos heavier now than when he won it in 2010 so he has developed a lot and got a lot stronger.
"I keep expecting him to show signs of old age but that has yet to materialise - I would even say that his most impressive race ever was his last. Like a good wine he seems to get better with age and hopefully that can carry on a bit longer.
"With a come-from-behind horse like him the leaders don't tend to come back to you in the Nunthorpe, unlike at Ascot. But he has won the race before and is one horse that no one else should take for granted. If the ground came up soft we would have to consider withdrawing him, but if it was good to soft we would probably take a chance with him."
Aidan O'Brien's Cougar Mountain was a five-length winner on his debut in June before being pitched into the July Cup, where he finished a perfectly respectable fifth.
"Cougar Mountain seems to be fine since his run in the July Cup. Obviously, it was a big jump up for a very young and inexperienced horse, so we have to be very careful and tender with him. But he seems to be in good form," said O'Brien.
Take Cover was three lengths behind Sole Power at Royal Ascot but has won a Listed race at York and the King George at Glorious Goodwood since, propelling his trainer David Griffiths into the limelight.
Griffiths, who trains a string of 20, said: "We've got to take on Sole Power, Hot Streak, Pearl Secret and those guys are obviously very good. I think Sole Power is the one seriously, seriously good horse that you would be scared of, but I think we are entitled to take our chance, aren't we? If you look at the Goodwood race, a lot of them were proven Group performers - Stepper Point was second in the King's Stand. On paper, it was pretty much a Group One.
"The times came out very fast. I think one of the furlongs was done in nine seconds and change, which is not unheard of, but it's very rare. A couple of them tried to take us on early doors, but like I said to Andrea (Atzeni, jockey of Take Cover), if they are going too fast for him, they are going too fast and will never get home."
Just behind Take Cover at Goodwood was Moviesta, who is returning to his best for Bryan Smart having won the King George Stakes 12 months previously.
"I'm a Yorkshireman so to go to the Ebor meeting with some good chances is what it's all about. To get a winner is the dream. Moviesta is really well. I am very happy with him. He ran really well at Goodwood and he has been in terrific form since," said Smart.
Part-owner Ritchie Fiddes said: "We need it to stay dry as he wants quick ground to be seen at his best - whenever he's had conditions to suit he's never disappointed. He's now back on song, is training really well and is a stronger horse than last year.
"If Sole Power's at his best he's the one to beat but we know there's not much between us and Take Cover - Goodwood suits the front-runners more and this is a step up for him."
G Force is another who ran in the Goodwood race and also behind Take Cover at York. He had a valid excuse for not finishing closer, according to trainer David O'Meara.
"We felt G Force was unlucky behind Take Cover in the City Walls Stakes. He was struck over the head by a whip and it probably cost him. He then finished behind Take Cover at Goodwood but he'll head to the Nunthorpe. He won well at York in the spring and seems in good form. Any ease in the ground would suit," said O'Meara.
Kevin Ryan's Astaire ran well in the Duke of York in May but has been found wanting behind Slade Power the last twice. Ryan also runs Hot Streak, winner of the Temple Stakes.
"It's going to be interesting dropping back to five furlongs but Hughesie (Richard Hughes) rode him in the Duke of York and he said he'd love to ride him over five. It didn't really enter my mind but if you don't take the advice of someone like Richard Hughes, with all the experience he has got - it will be interesting. He's in great form, it's nice to have two horses of that calibre to run in the race," said Ryan.