Gleneagles in action taking the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last time out in June. Picture courtesy of Charlie Crowhurst and Getty Images.
This is one of the greatest races of the year, but this year what a mouth-watering prospect.
Gleneagles the dual Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes winner taking on Golden Horn the unbeaten Derby and Eclipse winner. Those Guineas and Derby performances were because feet could rattle with both horses showing a distinct liking for a good surface.
Since destroying the field with an authoritative win in the Eclipse Golden Horn has had to miss his intended target The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes while Gleneagles has cried off the Sussex Stakes and Jacques Le Marois on account of soft ground.
Gleneagles the most exciting Guineas winner since Sea The Stars will take on Golden Horn the most exciting Derby winner since Sea The Stars in a race Sea The Stars won on his way to proving himself one of the greatest of all time.
The Derby winner has looked exceptional. All the doubt about his ability to stay the mile and a half at Epsom proved unfounded and he duly followed up in the Eclipse when tackling 10 f for the first time, a distance his owner believes he’s best bred for. John Gosden has supplemented Dick Doughtywylie to ensure an even pace for the favourite while David Elsworth lets Arabian Queen take her chance after a good third in the Nassau Stakes.
Gleneagles will have his stamina stretched to full capacity to get the trip as he’s looked at absolute genuine miler to date. Aidan O’Brien has described it as a very sporting that the lads have let him take his chance and so it is. The team also send Cougar Mountain in to bat once more but it’s likely he’ll set the fraction’s for Gleneagles.
The key to both the front two is fast ground and with both most unlikely to see a racecourse as four-year olds time and opportunity is fast running out for them to achieve their owners ambitions.
Time Testa late developing three-year old will represent the sponsors in the Juddmonte colours with Pat Smullen booked to ride. He was a very easy winner of the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot under Frankie Dettori and he was immediately nominated for this.
The older genertion standard is set by the Grey Gatsby. Kevin Ryan’s charge proved himself top class last year in winning the French Derby and Irish Champion Stakes and was mighty unluckily when beaten a short head by Free Eagle at Royal Ascot however he was no match for Golden Horn at Sandown last time out.
Criterion has yet too light up the northern sky but he’s a triple G1 winner at home down under. He was beaten 3 3/4 L in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on his sole British start so to feature here he needs to step up considerably. He could yet be hard nosed Australia.
His presence does show racing is ever now on an upward international curve it would be some prospect if the best American three-year old could also in the future turn up at York. Last years top three-year old California Chrome was only denied a run at this year’s Royal Ascot through injury and he had proven himself as well as being a top dirt performer also a turf performer as a three-year old.
York’s Ebor meeting sit’s nicely in the calendar for the Juddmonte to be an attractive alternative to either the Haskell Invitational or Sartoga’s Travers Stakes for American owners and trainers.A win here could culminate in an Arc bid. American Pharaoh’s win in the Haskell showed him to be improving and it was his best run to date, a step up on all three triple crown wins. Imagine if he did that at York against Golden Horn and Gleneagles.
How exciting would that be for racing?
This is likely to become a battle of the three- year olds up the long Knavsmire straight. Dick Doughtywylie will fall away with the tempo being kept on the boil to the mile pole by Cougar Mountain. In the last two furlongs Time Test will try to pull away but he’ll have to be some horse to do that against the three coming at him. I expect The Grey Gatsby to crack first but it will be later than he did in the Eclipse and this will leave the last 1/2 furlong to be a battle royal between the Derby and Guineas winner’s.
The sporting gesture by the lads might just Sea The Stars.
Recommendation : Gleneagles 5/1 win
With the course receiving 14mm of rain in the last 24 hours there is now some doubt about the participation of Gleneagles. Aidan has let him travel to York and he will walk the course before a final decision is made. Fingers crossed.