By Harry Allwood
Frankie Dettori was upbeat about his chances of landing a fourth Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes after riding work aboard American raider Lady Aurelia at York racecourse on Friday morning.
The King’s Stand Stakes winner worked over six furlongs and was supposed to pull up with two furlongs to go, but worked all the way to the line.
The three-year-old is set to clash with impressive King George Stakes winner Battaash for the first time in the Group One sprint over five furlongs on the Knavesmire on Friday.
Dettori has not ridden Lady Aurelia since she lost her unbeaten record in the Cheveley Park Stakes over six furlongs at Newmarket last year. That was the daughter of Scat Daddy’s only defeat in her six-race career and, although she has not run on the Knavesmire before, Dettori feels the track will not pose a problem.
“She felt great,” Dettori told Racing UK.Lady Aurelia worked on her own along the Knavesmire on Friday (York)
“She hasn’t grown and she’s still the same size but she has not lost her speed. This morning there was a tailwind and I felt like I was going a million miles an hour.
“I think York will suit her as she has got tremendous speed and typically, American horses tend to like a flat track so perhaps York may suit her better as Ascot is on a climb.”
The Wesley Ward-trained filly has not been seen since winning at Royal Ascot in June under leading American rider John Velazquez. Dettori was due to ride her but missed the out because of an arm injury he suffered in a paddock fall a week beforehand.
“I think it was an almighty performance and even I was taken. She brushed aside some great horses older than her and it was a great performance.” Dettori said.
“She’s lovely. She’s a typical sprinter and is always on her toes. She has got two switches, which is either slow or fast; nothing in between.
“Last year we tried hard to get her to run over six furlongs. We got away with it in the Prix Morny at Deauville but took a beating in the Cheveley Park. Five furlongs is ideal for her so it was a good choice by Wesley to keep her over five this year and it seems to have done the trick."
Ward is not unfamiliar with big-race success in England having trained nine Royal Ascot winners, two of those courtesy of Lady Aurelia and is bidding for his first Nunthorpe Stakes winner.
“I spoke to Welsey and he wanted her to do some decent work because she hasn’t run since the King’s Stand.” Dettori said.
“I let her stretch out to get her familiar with the track and she felt great.”
The Charles Hills-trained Battaash has created a big impression since being gelded in the winter. He is unbeaten in three starts this season and was a winner at Group Two level last time out.
He will be making his Group One debut next week and is on the upgrade but Dettori feels he has work to do to beat Lady Aurelia.
“I would say she goes there as the one to beat on what she’s done.” Dettori added.
“She will still have to be at her very best to win but the feel she gave me this morning, I think she’s travelled over quite good.”
Lady Aurelia is the general 6-4 favourite for the race with Battaash a best priced 2-1.