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Headgear change for Birchwood

Godolphin launch a strong, three-pronged attack on Friday's G3 City Of York Stakes on Knavesmire, with trainer Richard Fahey hoping the removal of a hood will have a positive effect on Birchwood's running.
J A McGrath

Birchwood, third in last year's one-mile G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland, won the Listed City Plate, over seven furlongs, last month, but then travelled to Goodwood, where he finished seventh behind Godolphin-owned winner Dutch Connection in the G2 Lennox Stakes.

"I have taken the hood off Birchwood for the City Of York," Fahey reported. "It seemed to have the desired effect when he won at Chester, and he has been working better at home since that win.

"He is in good form and I am confident he will run well in what looks like a competitive race," the trainer added.

Birchwood is joined in a potent Godolphin challenge by the Charlie Appleby-trained duo, Charming Thought and Flash Fire, who have both already won major prizes for the stable.

This is the first time in his career that Charming Thought, a G1 Middle Park Stakes winner in 2014, has been tested beyond six furlongs. He has had two runs back this season following a long lay-off and is progressing nicely, according to his trainer.

"His first two runs on the comeback trail were over six furlongs, but I think he is now ready for the step up to seven. And one mile will be the next step after that," Appleby predicted.

"It is a very competitive race, but I feel he will acquit himself well," he added.

Flash Fire, a son of Shamardal, won the seven-furlong Victoria Cup in May and should be in his element in a conditions race after campaigning in handicaps.

"He deserves a crack at a race like this," Appleby said. "He's in good order and seven furlongs on quick ground will suit. His fourth at Ascot (behind Librisa Breeze) was a solid run," he added.

The remaining Godolphin runner on the Friday card is Capezzano in the seven-furlong Convivial Maiden. He is a well-regarded son of Bernardini, but one who might be better with experience.

"He's done some nice work at home, and the ground should suit. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do on the racecourse," Appleby said.

The G1 Nunthorpe Stakes looks a cracker in prospect, with 20 runners lining up. Limato, the July Cup winner, is in great form, but Profitable, a future Darley stallion, has strong claims, as indeed does Yalta, who is owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai.