Nicholls’ in-form stable opens up this weekend at press day
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By Nick Pulford 9:39AM 23 JUL 2016
THE ground has finally turned in favour of potential middle-distance star Time Test and victory Saturday’s Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes could set him up for a return trip to York next month for the Group 1 Juddmonte International over the same distance.
Time Test has won all four domestic outings on good or faster ground since the start of last season but trainer Roger Charlton’s plans have often been thwarted by the weather, particularly in this wet summer.
The four-year-old, who won the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes so impressively on good to firm at Royal Ascot last year, missed the big meeting this time when the ground came up soft but was allowed to take his chance in similar conditions in the Eclipse and finished third behind Hawkbill and The Gurkha.
There is nothing of that calibre among today’s four opponents and Charlton is hopeful this will be a stepping stone back to Group 1 company in the Juddmonte, sponsored by Time Test’s owner Khalid Abdullah.
“He’s come out of Sandown well and he’s in good form,” said Charlton. “His best performances have been on fast ground and he hasn’t really had it like this since Royal Ascot last year. We take each race as it comes but the Juddmonte would be a natural follow-on from this race.”
The field includes stablemate Countermeasure in the same pace-setting role he filled in the Eclipse.
“Countermeasure has always run from the front and he’ll do it again at York,” said Charlton. “A good pace is important for Time Test, but then it is for all of them. It’s a small field and we don’t want a messy race.”
‘Time Test a tough nut to crack’
Mahsoob represents John Gosden, who said: “We’re under no illusions about the task in hand as Time Test will be a tough nut to crack. But it was either run here or carry a penalty in a Group 3. He’s won at the track before and deserves to take his chance.”
The only top-level winner in the line-up is Mondialiste, who landed last year’s Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in Canada and then finished second to Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile – in which Time Test ran below par in tenth – but has yet to show the same form this season.