By Jon Lees
GB: Kieren Fallon, who played such an integral role in Wesley Ward’s Royal Ascot assault, reckons the American trainer’s flying two-year-old Golden Pal would “definitely win” the Nunthorpe Stakes if he takes on Battaash in the G1 sprint at York.
With trainer Ward unable to travel from the US, six-time champion jockey Fallon, together with Frankie Dettori, was responsible for preparing the US trainer’s team for Royal Ascot, where the stable took its meeting score to 11 wins after Campanelle landed the Queen Mary Stakes.
Kimari shone when second in the Commonwealth Cup, and Golden Pal narrowly failed to win the G2 Norfolk Stakes when overhauled by The Lir Jet in the closing stages. Ward subsequently announced Golden Pal would head to York in August, with top US jockey Irad Ortiz in line to ride.
“They said the Nunthorpe was on the cards and I would say he would definitely win the Nunthorpe if he ran,” said Fallon. “He doesn’t need fast ground, anything good would do. It was just a little bit soft for him at Ascot.
“The track at York would suit him better,” Fallon went on. “It’s not as stiff. He’s a serious, serious colt and I couldn’t believe he went off at 12-1 at Ascot. I would love to see him go for the Nunthorpe because I know he’d win it.”
Ward has had two near-misses in the five-furlong Nunthorpe. Lady Aurelia was beaten a nose in 2017 and Acapulco was runner-up in 2015 when contesting the race as a juvenile, carrying 8st and with Ortiz in the saddle.
Battaash, who began his campaign by winning the King’s Stand Stakes, holds the track record at York but under 9st 11lb would have to concede 24lb to Golden Pal, who would carry 8st 1lb.
“The two-year-olds get a ton of weight in the Nunthorpe, and Golden Pal doesn’t ride like a two-year-old,” said Fallon. “It would suit him better to get a lead as well. Obviously he hit the gates too strong at Ascot and Andrea [Atzeni] couldn’t get him back.
”It’s a long time since I rode a two-year-old as nice as Golden Pal, who only just got chinned. If it wasn’t for the ground, at the furlong marker you would have walked away to go and collect.
“Kimari was unfortunate that she didn’t just hit the lids,” Fallon added. “I’m not saying that she would have beaten Golden Horde but it would have been a lot closer. It would have been nice if all three had won.”
Fallon, 55, spent time with Ward when he rode in the United States in the latter part of a career in which he rode 2,253 winners, including three Derbys and two Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes.
He often helps Ward when the trainer sends runners to Britain and, having previously worked for Saeed Bin Suroor, he also rides out for Ed Dunlop and James Ferguson.
“I don’t really have a job,” he said. “I finished with Godolphin in March and I always help Wesley. When he was able to come he rang up and because I had no commitments I could do it.
“I love being behind the scenes, getting horses ready. I spent a lot of time with Thunder Snow. He was one of my favourite horses. You get attached to them, especially when you ride them every day. I am in a very happy place right now.”
Nunthorpe betting (William Hill): 8-11 Battaash, 7 Sceptical, 10 Hello Youmzain, Golden Pal, 12 bar