By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)
The Juddmonte International is the feature race on day one of the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival. This race is a group one over one mile two and a half furlongs for horses aged three years old and older. Five runners go to post and they’re a group of very talented individuals. They’ve won a combined twelve group ones between them so this looks the race of the meeting for me.
Ghaiyyath, the Godolphin-owned son of Dubawi, will head the market after two brilliant group one successes so far this year. His first was in the rearranged Coronation Cup at Newmarket. He ran boldly from the front and beat none other than Stradivarius. Next time, he made all in the Coral-Eclipse and beat Enable by two and a quarter lengths. That literal form puts him as one of the top horses in the country and both Enable and Stradivarius have won subsequently. There is the argument that both of those horses weren’t at full fitness but it is still an impressive feat to cross the line in front of them.
Before Ghaiyyath’s victory at Newmarket, he hadn’t been seen in England since October 2017 when he won the Autumn Stakes at the age of two. By not racing in England for such a long time, it made his Newmarket win seem a bit of a surprise and I get the impression that people have struggled to get behind him as they have done for the likes of Enable or Stradivarius. He’s a beautiful stamp of a horse and I guess William Buick and Charlie Appleby will want to keep things simple on the lead. In the Arc, he was hassled for the lead and, in a way, intimidated out of the race so it is going to be interesting to see what the other jockeys chose to do. Will they hassle him for the lead and risk their own horses doing too much too early? Or, give him an easy lead and attempt to peg him back?
The big question is – who can keep tabs on Ghaiyyath? For me, Magical is the answer to that. This mare was rumoured to be retiring at the end of last year, after her Champion Stakes victory at Ascot on soft ground. She’s paid Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore back for keeping her in training as she’s made easy work of the group one Pretty Polly Stakes and the group one Tattersalls Gold Cup. She’s been long odds-on for both races and this will be her first proper race of the season. I believe she is good enough to beat this field. She’s so straight forward like most of Aidan’s, being by Galileo out of a Pivotal mare, and that will play to her strengths here.
We’ve had a heatwave lately but it looks like the downpour will arrive in time for this race and the ground looks like it could be on the softish side. Magical has form of 12441251 on ground with soft or heavy in the description; in comparison to Ghaiyyath, who has won on good to soft twice but didn’t handle soft in the Arc, but there could’ve been other influences for the below par performance. Both successes in England so far have been on rattling quick ground.
It was a shock for me when Lord North managed to win the group one Prince Of Wales Stakes over one mile two. He beat a classy group of horses, including the winner of this last year, Japan, who I expected to take his chance this year. The win was in great style. Before then, he won the rearranged Brigadier Gerard Stakes, beating Elarqam by a short head. Elarqam was subsequently well-beaten by Aspetar, who is now sadly a non-runner after some abnormal blood results. He’s an extremely consistent horse, winning six from seven, and pacing twice. This horse was gelded in June 2019 and will be partnered by James Doyle, who rode him to victory at Royal Ascot. Frankie Dettori will not be riding at York this week due to quarantine restrictions after choosing to ride at Deauville last weekend. This now looks a smart decision as he won the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano Stakes (Group Two) on Mishriff and the Prix Du Jacques le Marois on Palace Pier – and a large prize fund came with it!!
Lord North is still improving and the same can be said for Kameko. This son of Kitten’s Joy finished off his two year old season with an impressive win in the Vertem Futurity Trophy (Group One) at Newcastle. This season, he managed to win the 2000 Guineas by a neck, cementing himself as the best three-year-old miler. However, he went to the Derby next and he apparently didn’t stay the trip but I thought he stayed on quite nicely to be fourth, but was still beaten six lengths by the brilliant Serpentine. He dropped back to the mile for the Sussex Stakes and was ‘denied a clear run’ in the final stages and was beaten three and one quarter lengths. There have been excuses on his past two runs and this race is the chance to prove himself. I think one mile two will be absolutely perfect for him. The only problem is the ground as he’s never tackled anything like this before but Roaring Lion, who was by the same sire and ran in the same colours, won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on soft ground.
It was announced on Tuesday that Rose Of Kildare has been bought by Qatar Racing, Kameko’s owners, as a broodmare prospect but she’ll be racing in the colours she has carried for her previous runs for the rest of the season. It appears the attraction to this filly, as well as her tough attitude, is her sire Make Believe. He’s really hit the headlines this year with Mishriff winning the French Derby. She’s three years old and has raced sixteen times, winning six and placed in five. She won the Musidora Stakes over course and distance when last seen and won two group threes at the age of two. She won’t want it much softer than good and I’d be surprised to see her feature in the finish.
So, my selection. I’ve been struggling to pick between Magical and Ghaiyyath. I have absolutely fell in love with Ghaiyyath this season as he’s absolutely stunning. I just don’t think this race is going to play to his strengths so I’m going to side with MAGICAL. This mare is extremely likeable and versatile. She should go on the ground and she doesn’t have to be raced in a certain way, which makes her seem like a logical choice for this race. Tactically, this is fascinating and I can’t wait to see how it plays out!
Rest Of The Card
1:45 York – Sky Bet And Symphony Group Handicap
It is hard to look past the favourite, JAWWAL, here. He is two from two and the latter of those wins was so very impressive. Justanotherbottle could run well at a bigger price.
2:15 York – Tattersalls Acomb Stakes (Group Three)
The form of ROYAL SCIMITAR’s debut is very strong as the second placed runner, Line Of Departure, has won twice since. (He runs again in the 4:50 later on in the card). My selection is out of a Dark Angel mare, who is a half sister to eight individual winners. Clive Cox and Adam Kirby are a formidable combination.
2:45 York – Sky Bet Voltiger Stakes (Group Two)
For me, this is MOGUL’s race to lose. He ran an impressive win at Goodwood last time and he’s more proven than the rest. Darain is well-bred but I’m unsure on the trip for him. Highland Chief has ran very well on all of his starts this season that weren’t the Derby.
3:45 York – Sky Bet Handicap
I like MONSIEUR LAMBRAYS for this two mile race. He won over course and distance well last month and is looking for the three timer. Tom Clover had a nice winner at Newmarket on the weekend and Jack Mitchell is in form.
4:20 York – Sky Bet Fillies’ Sprint Handicap
I’m a huge fan of FREE LOVE (Read her story here). She has a tiny weight in this and has such a wonderful attitude. She only lost out by a nose to Glamorous Anna at Windsor last time out, which was agonising. Since then, Glamorous Anna has won well at Glorious Goodwood. William Cox gets on well with this filly, who is difficult. She’s shot from a mark of 85 up to 96 and carries 9st6 compared to Free Love’s 8st8 so I fancy Free Love to reverse the form and hopefully run well. Both fillies are roughly 14/1.
4:50 York – Sky Bet Nursery Handicap
LINE OF DEPARTURE has raced five times and won his last two. He is more exposed than a lot of these but there is still more to come!