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Borderlescott's back again
Sprinting legend Borderlescott could be in line for a tilt at a third Nunthorpe win, trainer Robin Bastiman tells Turf Talk
SCANNING through the list of entries for the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes – the Ebor Festival’s speed dash down the straight at York Racecourse – one name immediately leapt out.
It wasn’t just because Borderlescott had been retired last year, although it would be an amazing feat if he could somehow win a third crown against the odds in two weeks’ time, following his return to action earlier this summer.
It was more that, at the age of 11, he is even being considered for the race at all.
It’s a testament to Scotty’s ability – a two-time Nunthorpe Stakes victor, a winner of 14 races in his career and more than £770,000 in prize money – that Cowthorpe trainer Robin Bastiman would even contemplate another tilt at the sprint title.
In Flat racing terms, Borderlescott should be drawing his pension, playing golf and generally cantering around the potting shed.
He’s nearly three times the age of Moviesta, the winner of the Group 2 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last week for Hambleton trainer Bryan Smart and his Boroughbridge jockey Paul Mulrennan.
And he was beaten five-and-a-half lengths into 11th place by his younger rival in that race, in only his second appearance on the track following his return after being put out into the paddocks in November last year.
“It’s a sad day but he’s done us proud,” reflected Bastiman when he called time on his stable star’s stellar career. “It’s time now.”
The horse, though, had other ideas.
“What’s the point of horses who have got ability, and still want to do it, just doing nothing?” Bastiman said of the decision to subsequently revive Borderlescott’s racing days.
“He went to Ireland (Dundalk in October 2012) and didn’t perform that day. He was on the go and going well all year and I now believe the best thing to do is to let him tell us when he wants to retire.
“He proved he still had it at York last month and he was beaten five lengths in a Group 2 last week. We will keep going and he could do anything. It would be a surprise if he wasn’t winning races.”
Will that be the Nunthorpe, the scene of the veteran’s greatest days at Newmarket in 2008 and then on home turf at York 12 months later?
“I don’t know to be honest – we will just have to see,” Bastiman said. “He probably needed that run the other day and maybe it would be a bit of a high task for him. We are planning to run at Nottingham next week in a conditions race and then we will make a decision.
“He does like York but he had a job to get the legs the other day at Goodwood. He tied up a bit again, although he needed that run.
“We will play it by ear.
“I might have to go down the handicap route with him. He will have more chance then than in a Group 1.”
Bastiman has considered this route before, when Scotty first began to advance in age, but, given his huge rating, enormous burdens of weight in handicaps had been a huge off-putter.
Even last week, the horse was still rated 108 – four pounds higher than Moviesta and three more than recent York Group 2 winner Ladies Are Forever.
But Bastiman now argues: “He would be heavily weighted in handicaps but in all those heritage handicaps there is only ten pounds difference between the top and bottom.
“He is as good as ever. The ability is there and we go into it now thinking ‘if he wins he wins’. He has got nothing to prove and we’re not under any pressure any more.
We just have to find the right race.”
If that proves to be the Nunthorpe, Bastiman’s horse is currently a 66-1 outsider – somewhat disrespectful given Scotty won the Listed Beverley Bullet less than a year ago.
And it’s more likely that a defence of that crown, rather than the search for a third Nunthorpe, will be his future.
“It’s all just come a bit quickly,”
said Bastiman of Europe’s richest sprint. “Ideally, I wouldn’t run him at Nottingham next week. He didn’t get in the Nunthorpe last year and we will probably aim to have another look at the Beverley Bullet.
“It all depends what the owners want to do and, in a way, they want to go to York. The horse will tell us, though. There are not that many options but he might just have to run at Nottingham, whether it is good to firm or soft.
“We are also going through a bit of a spell where the horses are not 100 per cent and he might just be the same.
“We are going round in ever decreasing circles. Some of them run well and some don’t. Usually a yard starts firing and everyone does well so it is a bit up and down.
“But hopefully Scotty will come back and win something somewhere. I am sure he will.”
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