How many people would argue against the Juddmonte International being the race of the season?
Ebor Festival Tips
A stellar line-up of in-form genuine Group 1 horses, representing a variety of form lines, clashing over ten furlongs on the first day of the biggest week of flat racing the second half of the season has to offer.
Haiyyath certainly had his detractors coming into this season; he was a one trick pony, a flat track bully, a horse who had flopped every time the pressure was really on.
Only a fool would make those comments now, though, after an utterly flawless season which has seen him gain his first domestic Group 1s in the Coronation Cup and the Eclipse.
Ghaiyyath’s most destructive quality is his ability to sustain a ridiculous pace over a long distance, seen to it’s brilliant best this year over the straight twelve furlongs at Newmarket, and the galloping nature of York should pose no problem for Ghaiyyath’s preferred run style.
It could be a case for debate as to whether he’s faced anything of this calibre of opposition at ten furlongs, though- his only Group 1 win at the trip was last time out in the Eclipse, and of those he beat, Enable is undoubtedly a twelve furlong horse who occasionally dabbles over shorter, whilst Japan has struggled to make his way out of first gear all season.
Juddmonte International Tips
Ghaiyyath had every right to be quicker than his rivals at Sandown- against a field of speedier types with world class form over this trip and shorter, things may be different.
Nevertheless, he showed a different facet to his game when winning that event, a more controlled utilisation of gears and tactical speed than the catch-me-if-you-can freewheel he employed to such devastating effect in the Coronation Cup, bu also last season in he Prix D’Harcourt and Grosser Pries Von Baden.
On what he’s done this season, he’s the right favourite.
Magical’s tasks in Ireland have been easier than what Ghaiyyath has been faced with in Britain, but she too has added another two Group 1s to her stellar CV.
The mare is made of steel, and barring her still creditable fifth in the Arc last season, she hasn’t finished outside of the first two on any other of her thirteen racecourse starts- testament to her remarkable physical and mental straightforwardness, and the expertise with which Aidan O’Brien has prepared her.
The decision to reroute her back to Ballydoyle from the breeding barns, where she was due to have a date with No Nay Never, had sparked rumours that Magical was expected to be a better horse once again this season, and looks like her first real opportunity to prove whether there’s any truth in that, given that she didn’t have to be near her best to win either the Pretty Polly or Tattersalls Gold Cup.
If the race comes down to a battle, Magical won’t be one for shirking, and the six-time Group One winner is a formidable foe for the rest of the field to lock horns with.
The joker in the pack could well be Kameko, who has sportingly campaigned following his Guineas win by Andrew Balding and Qatar Racing, but remains somewhat of a hard horse to get a clear grasp of.
It’s hard to gauge exactly what level he ran to when fourth in the Sussex last time out, given that he was trapped on the real and unable to get a meaningful run, whilst the Derby, in which he filled the same position, is a farcical piece of form and taught us nothing more about him than that twelve furlongs isn’t his trip.
Ten should be, though, and you could wonder as to whether, in a non-Covid year, if it would have taken until August for us to see Kameko at the trip many people assume will be his best.
Certainly, the strength with which he hit the line at Newmarket should give his fans confidence that he may be even better over an extra two furlongs, and his pedigree, being a son of Kitten’s Joy, who also sired the owner’s 2018 winner Roaring Lion, would strengthen the case for Kameko to record a career-best performance in the Juddmonte.
This race is an acid test for him- things shouldn’t go as badly wrong for him as they did at Epsom and Goodwood- and an open Group 1 win to go alongside his Guineas would undoubtedly propel him back to the top of the three-year-old pile.
Lord North’s progression through handicaps to the top level has been one of the more enjoyable stories in racing in the past twelve months.
He was still only rated 98 at this stage last season, and after taking the Cambridgeshire and James Seymour at the back of 2019, has upped his game once again this campaign, posting consecutive career bests to win a good renewal of the Brigadier Gerard, and then proving utterly dominant to win in Group 1 company at the first attempt when taking the Prince Of Wales’ at Royal Ascot last time out.
His remarkable turn of foot was the key factor in his victory that day, quickening and pulling several lengths clear of Addeybb in a number of strides inside the final furlong.
The presence of Ghaiyyath means this race is a fascinating tactical proposition- do the field take the risk of allowing Ghaiyyath to bowl along unchallenged in the early stages, or do they expend early energy to attempt to go with him.
If the race tees up for him, and James Doyle has him in a position where the press of the button can be utilised to best effect, Lord North’s quickening style may give him the best chance of being the one to take the favourite on with.
This race requires another step up from Ascot, but he’s on a clear upward trajectory and has a weapon which could expose any chink in Ghaiyyath’s armour.
And what a story it would be if the outsider Rose Of Kildare was to pull off one of the biggest shocks of recent seasons and follow on from her Musidora victory here last month. 100-1 is probably a realistic assessment of her chances of winning this race, but she’s no doubt earned the right to have an attempt at this great prize.