- Sire-Dam -
Front-running Alpha Delphini is one of those horses who wears his heart on their sleeves, never more so than in the 2018 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes when he won by a nose from Mabs Cross at 40-1.
It took the judge several minutes to determine which of the pair had won and connections of the Bryan Smart-trained gelding must have feared the worst as he had been beaten a head and a short head in his previous two races. But on this occasion the print revealed he had held on by a whisker.
Blue Point, the King’s Stand winner, was third, with Battaash, the 4-5 favourite, only fourth.
There was a blistering pace from the outset with speedsters Take Cover and Caspian Prince blazing the trail, and Alpha Delphini and Battaash hot on their heels.
Battaash hit the front about a furlong and half out, but could not put the race to bed and Charlie Hills’ sprinter was left standing in the final 100 yards, as the Michael Dods-trained Mabs Cross and Alpha Delphini fought it out.
North Yorkshire-based Smart said: “That was the longest five minutes of my life! I backed him this morning, I had a tenner each-way at 80-1 because I thought that was an insulting price.
“I knew I had him the best he’d ever been, I’d trained him for this race as it was one I’d always wanted to win. I’d told the wife months ago that he was going to be absolutely spot-on for this, he was just coming right.
“There was a difference today, he was so relaxed, he wasn’t sweating or anything. Credit must go to Graham Lee, it was his idea to take the cheekpieces off as he felt that he couldn’t see the other horses when they came at him.”
He added: “My wife treats this horse like a king at home, he has back problems and gets treated like he owns the place.
“I’ve had a lot of his family, his half-brother Tangerine Trees got better with age and it looks like he is.
“We’ve put him in the Abbaye and there’s a good chance he’ll go for that. We did have the Beverley Bullet as a back-up, but we can skip that now.”
Lee, who won the Grand National on Amberleigh House in 2004, said: “The longer we were waiting I was sure it was a dead-heat. Obviously I’m delighted, but sorry for Tom.
“He’s been running in cheekpieces and he’s been running his heart out. When he’s been getting passed he’s been rallying late on, so I just suggested taking them off so he could see what’s coming and I’m delighted.”
Alpha Delphini was winning his eighth race from 26 starts.
He made an encouraging return behind Battaash at Haydock on his return in 2019 but then suffered a setback which meant he had to miss the rest of the year.
BCS Career statistics
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