The final day of the York Ebor meeting will host one of the most anticipated races of the year when Starspangledbanner reappears in the G1 Nunthorpe Stakes on Friday.
Starspangledbanner (Choisir) confirmed trainer Aidan O’Brien’s high rating of the Australian-import in the G1 Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot and G1 July Cup at Newmarket.
The drop back to 1000m could present problems for the Coolmore colt. He has won over the minimum trip in Australia but his best performances have been from 1200m to 1600m.
“We don’t see the distance being an issue for Starspangledbanner,” O’Brien said on Thursday. “I do not want to harp on about it but, I’ve said before, he is a very fast horse and he has shown that on the gallops and on the track.”
His main danger will be Equiano (Acclaimation) who won the G1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and then ran second to the Aussie star in the July Cup.
Connections are optimistic he can turn the tables on Starspangledbanner. “You could say Equiano’s last run was a career best and, over 1000m, we feel he might have the edge over the O’Brien horse on Friday,” trainer Barry Hills said. “He is all speed and York is a track that will suit him.”
Bookmakers have opened Starspangledbanner as the 2-1 favourite ahead of Equiano at 7-2. The Nunthorpe is timed for 12.25AM on Saturday morning AEST.