Bethell favouring direct Nunthorpe route for Regional

Regional is likely to skip the King George Qatar Stakes, with Ed Bethell favouring heading straight to the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes with his in-form sprinter.

Although having always been a consistent operator over the shorter distances, the five-year-old had won just one of his first 10 outings for the Middleham handler.

However, he has taken his form to the next level this season, winning a competitive York handicap in fine style before striking with authority in the Listed Achilles Stakes at Haydock.

Bethell is now keen to test the waters at a higher level with his speedster and with the Regional proven on the Knavesmire, the trainer is keen to head to the Nunthorpe fresh rather than take on what could be a stellar cast at Goodwood.

“He is still entered in the King George at Goodwood, but I would imagine it would have to cut up for him to go there,” he said.

“Goodwood wouldn’t really be his track. We ran him in the Stewards’ Cup and although he ran well, he absolutely hated the downhill.

“I imagine we will be going straight to the Nunthorpe. He’s very good fresh and he’s a big, flat track type of horse.”

Regional was meant to run over the Nunthorpe course and distance in the City Walls Stakes earlier this month, but was pulled out when rain altered the going prior to the contest.

Bethell is content with the decision he made, with the focus firmly on keeping Regional’s confidence high ahead of his shot at Group One glory.

“I could have run him at York in the City Walls with a penalty, but he is a fast ground horse and it did go good to soft,” he added.

“I was conscious I want to go to the Nunthorpe with a horse full of confidence, rather than me ruining his confidence by running him on soft ground.”

As well as Regional, Bethell has also seen Oviedo fly the flag for his Thorngill House string and the handler was pleased with his third-placed finish in Newbury’s Steventon Stakes despite the race not unfolding in the colt’s favour.

“Unfortunately the hour and a half of rain before the race got into the ground, so it was softer than ideal,” explained Bethell.

“But I thought he ran very well and way above 100. He needs a fast pace to aim at really and it was quite a stop-start race, which doesn’t play to his strengths.

“I was thoroughly encouraged by the run and it was maybe not a career best, but it was right up there with the best performances he’s shown me in the past.”

Bethell will now wait to see how the assessor adjusts Oviedo’s mark before finalising future running plans, with big-money pots at both Goodwood and York, as well as a raid on Deauville on the agenda.

“I will see what the handicapper does with him,” he added. “There’s two very nice handicaps, one at Goodwood and one at York that he might slip into nicely.

“He’s a very hard horse to place in those Listed and Group races because, like yesterday, you could end up taking on a horse like Al Aasy who we all know is very good.

“He will have an entry in the Prix Nureyev (August 13) at Deauville as well, which would be very much ground dependent, but Deauville in August, you might just get some good ground over there.”

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