Tag Archives: Juddmonte International Stakes

Juddmonte International Stakes (Group 1)

Poets Word last year at Leopardstown

This is the best race of the season to date. Full of intrigue.

Poets Word rightly heads the market trading at 6/4. He’s been the star middle distance performer this season. His second last year in the Irish Champion Stakes marked him out as something to look forward too this year. He matched that placing in the spring at Meyden in the Dubai Sheema Classic before taking the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot beating Cracksman and then winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, again at Ascot, beating stablemate Crystal Ocean in a hard fought battle.

Against him are the current classic crop.

Saxon Warrior the Guineas winner found 12f beyond him at Epsom when running fourth in the Derby and likewise at the Curragh he didn’t stay when finishing third. A week later he was stepped back in trip to 10f for the Eclipse where he was involved another cracker with Roaring Loin who just came out on top by a neck, the Gosden colt having previously run second in the Derby.

Joseph O’Brien’s Latrobe was the beneficiary of a muddling pace when taking the Irish Derby however that was not his fault and he was there to capitalise when others couldn’t. The step back in trip here will be interesting given his profile suggests he was more likely to be considered a Leger candidate and ultimately a Melbourne Cup one. He did show pace at the Curragh.

Godolphin who head Coolmore in the PRWC 18 Owners championship are represented by a pair of four-year olds in Benbatl and Thunder Snow. Both had a four race campaign at Meyden in the spring culminating in wins in the Dubai Turf over 9f for Benbatl and Dubai World Cup on dirt over this trip for Thunder Snow. Benbati did disappoint in the Queen Anne when stepped back to a mile but bounced back to winning ways in a Group 1 in Germany, the Grosser Dallmayr Preis over 10f. Thunder Snow makes his European seasonal debut here after a good break.

Without Parole was very nearly the talking horse of the year. He missed the Guineas in the spring and was instead aimed at the St James’s Palace Stakes where he duly obliged justifying favouritism. He went to Goodwood for the Sussex Stakes where again going off favourite he finished down the field in seventh. He’s entitled to bounce back as at Ascot he looked top class.

Thundering Blue is the only one who hasn’t won a Group 1 yet however he has shown a real liking for this course having finished second in a John Smiths Cup and winning the G2 Sky Bet York Stakes here last time out.

This race promises much. Poets Word has been, as we have come to expect from older horses in the care of Sir Michael Stoute, a model of improvement and consistency. In his last two run’s he displayed his class when beating Cracksman and his heart in beating Crystal Ocean. Equally Roaring Loin has worn his heart on his sleeve at both Epsom and at Sandown.

Saxon Warrior looked a cut above the rest at Newmarket in the Guineas and maybe the Eclipse came a bit soon after the Irish Derby. He’s had a break now however the Ballydoyle form is a worry. Latrobe can he continue to surprise, he is in the hands of someone who knows a thing or two about it or can John Gosden get Without Parole back on track. Can Godolphin’s march this season continue? They do come here with a Dubai World Cup winner.

Intrigue aplenty even without Cracksman and Enable. Who’ll comes out on top.

Over this trip, possibly short of Poets Word ideal and giving weight to the three-year old’s, a healthy Saxon Warrior might just slay him and Roaring Loin. He’s had a break something he didn’t have the last time they met at Sandown.

Incidentally a win for Poets Word or Benbati could see either go second in the PWRC 18 Horse championships.

Recommendation: Saxon Warrior 11/2 win


Juddmonte International (G1)

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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.

Juddmonte International (Group 1)

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Australia winning The Derby from Kingston Hill.

Can he be beaten?

Mukhadram as a four year old struggled when mixing it at top level. His best performance was here last year over course and distance in the G2 York Stakes. Twice beaten by Al Kazeem in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and The Eclipse he’s a different horse at five. Maturity now means he an Eclipse winner himself and he can’t be easily dismissed here as a result. Stretched to the limit of his stamina in the King George he’s now back his favoured trip and he is the benchmark for a 10f test.

Telescope has touched the flame but failed to ignite it. You know it’s there, we saw it at Ascot in the Hardwicke yet there’s a question about his attitude. Twice behind Frankel’s brother Noble Mission this season is still reliable form but does he really want do it at top level?

The circumstance of the race plays a huge part, weight for age matters and the concession to the three year olds is significant at this stage of the season. The last three year old winner of The International was Sea The Stars. Testament to the difficulty of winning the race for the younger horse. You have to be top drawer to do as a three year old. It’s why Ballydoyle are keen to run, to establish a superstar.

The Grey Gatsby winner of the French Derby is in someway the forgotten horse. His last run in the Grand Prix De Paris told us he’s not a 12f horse but the Prix Du Jockey Club showed us his trip is this 10f. The French Derby hasn’t worked out too well with both the second and third also beaten since.

Arod another three year old was no match for Australia at Epsom but yet he remains’ somewhat of an unknown quantity. Peter Chapple-Hyam sent him to Leicester for a 9 L confidence booster over 10f in July which should have him cherry ripe for this.

And then there’s Kingfisher not to be treated as a mug, he’s there on merit. He was an impressive Dee Stakes winner at Chester and he proved himself behind Australia when beaten 2 1/2 L in the Irish Derby. He will most likely be sacrificed as the pacemaker but he may well be very difficult to pass.

The ground will be good to firm which is just what Australia will want. He’s had a mid season break and put on some weight since we last saw him at the Curragh. Aidan has informed us he has a question mark about his level of fitness and this prehaps is the only hole to be found in him. We know how he is viewed in the pantheon of all time Ballydoyle greats and his Derby win’s have confirmed it to the public eye. It could not have been any easier at the Curragh.

The older horses Mukhadram and Telescope will make sure this has to be won. Arod is bound to have come on since Epsom and will get closer while The Grey Gatsby has course experience when winning The Dante here. Kingfisher will ensure this a true test but even if Joseph has to carry a few pounds overweight to match the belly of his mount it’s most likely we’ll see Australia prevail.

Recommendation : Australia 8/11 win



The Recalibration Stakes (Pattern Race)

The International Federation have taken the plunge and have revised the level of the ratings in the international classifications and world thoroughbreds ranking from when they started in 1977 to now.

Why you may ask?

Was it to simply put Frankel on top of the perch?

Or was it finally to address the over exuberance of figures in the early years of the first classifications. Lets be fair and say it was the latter rather than the former though the revision did have the effect of fulfilling the first agenda.

The loser in all this is Dancing Brave reduced 3 lbs to a mark of 138, now considered 2 lbs inferior to Frankel’s 140.

In the overall context the revision has been a benefit. The purpose of any rating system is to remove the wheat from the chaff. In the early years of the classification too many horses were rated too highly (due primarily to handicapper’s working to a norm of 100 and then handicapping up from there) thus systemically rating horses up to the norm rather than down.

The revisionism tightens the bands essentially reducing the mark attained in 1977 by 7 lbs and then on a sliding scale by a 1 lb in 1991. No changes occur then until 2004 where a 1 lb increase reflects the now considered harshness of the handicapper’s view that particular year.

The effect is, under the old regime 22 horses were rated 135 or above, under the new system this is reduced to 13. That’s a good thing wheat and chaff separated. Is there individual casualties?

1986 lost 3 lbs in the revisionist world thus knocking Dancing Brave off the perch in favour of Frankel. Both colts were owned by Khalid Abdullah and the abilities they brought to the track differed greatly.

Dancing Brave ran 10 times winning 8, the losses were the Derby and Breeders Cup Turf. The wins at Group 1 level were the Guineas, Eclipse, King George and Arc. Spectacular, in 1986 beyond that. The loss in the Derby will be forever remembered, beaten by Shahrastani he came from the clouds with the line coming too soon clocking reputedly 10.8 sec in the penultimate furlong.

Frankel won 14 races , 10 of them group 1’s. He was champion at two, three and four. He pulverized his opposition in all those encounters whether breaking from the gate in that unforgettable Guineas or when held up and unleashed in the Juddmonte International in the last 2 f.

But he never did what Dancing Brave did. He never went beyond 10 f. Could he have produced that turn of foot over a mile and a half? He certainly could over a mile clocking 10.58 sec in the Queen Anne in the sixth furlong and in the Juddmonte over 10 f he clocked 11.05 in the eighth furlong but could you see him do it over 12 f? Connections couldn’t, they never tried. Why? Because they couldn’t see it.

Ratings serve the purpose of drawings the generations together. There not an exact science but while the revisionism is welcomed and not overdue we must recognise the casualties of war.

Reducing Dancing Brave to inferiority in comparison to Frankel is the unjust casuality. By definition putting a figure beside an animal says one would beat the other.

Who would your back in the Eclipse Frankel or Dancing Brave? In the battle to the line you would see it a nose to Frankel but in the Arc two furlongs out we all know it would be Dancing Brave.

In the mind of the owner is it Frankel or Dancing Brave?

The problem with this recalibration is the benchmark for equine excellence is set by a horse who never raced beyond 10 f.

That presents a difficulty.

The Guineas and Derby winner Camelot is accessed at 124 lbs and thus seen as a failure for not having won the triple crown. If a pacemaker had been run at Doncaster would we have seen an emphatic victory for the Ballydoyle inmate. If so would his rating have skied into the 130’s?

Lets say Camelot’s potential is unlocked this year by Aidan O’Brien. Let’s say he wins the Dubai World Cup, the Coronation Cup, the King George, the Irish Champion Stakes, the Arc and Breeders Cup Classic. Six Group 1’s three over 12 f and three over 10 f including Tapeta,Turf and Dirt. (No pressure then Aidan)Will that not surpass the achievements of Frankel by 1, 2 or even 3 lbs?

Will we run the Recalibration Stakes again next year?

And the result is ………….