The Group One Juddmonte International is the feature race on day one of York’s Ebor meeting and it is an intriguing clash of the generations with the three-year-olds represented by Derby winners Australia (English & Irish) and The Grey Gatsby (French) going head-to-head with two top-class older horses, Eclipse winner Mukhadram and King George runner up Telescope.
The case for Australia (3.40) is obvious. A brilliant Epsom winner with the speed to have finished an unlucky third in the Guineas, he is the obvious starting point and is sure to be hard to beat.
The case against is that trainer Aidan O’Brien suggests he might not be 100 per cent fit after a short break following his facile success at the Curragh and it is also possible that jockey Joseph O’Brien will have to put up a couple of lbs of overweight up as the horse is due to carry 8st 12lbs and O’Brien rode at 9st 1lb on Sunday in Dundalk.
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The Grey Gatsby finished behind the selection in the Guineas and I’m not convinced he will confirm Dante form with Arod given there was only three-quarters of a length between them over C&D in May with Arod pulling hard before coming home best of all.
There is bound to be plenty of pace in the race with Kingfisher and Mukhadram likely to go forward with the former making sure the proven stamina of Australia comes into play. O’Brien has suggested Australia is a special horse and I don’t think they would let him take his chance if they felt he would come on for the run. I would take a chance on Arod for the forecast but it really is a race to savour.
In the Acomb, Basateen couldn’t have been more impressive at Doncaster last time and he and O’Brien’s Jamaica are respected and the 9/4 joint favourites with BetVictor but preference is for Brian Meehan’s Growl (2.30).
The selection won a valuable Ascot maiden over six furlongs on debut and the stable have won this corresponding race twice in the last six years. Jimmy Fortune misses the ride and Richard Hughes picks up an excellent spare on a colt who can reward each way support at 7/1 with BetVictor.
It was not Roger Varian’s finest hour in my opinion running Kingston Hill (3.40) over an inadequate 10f on fast ground in the Eclipse and he was also given a poor ride by Frankie Dettori. Regular pilot Andrea Atzeni is claimed to ride Postponed but Ryan Moore is a very able deputy and I hope the Derby runner up is given the opportunity to show his true colours in an excellent renewal of the Group 2 Gt Voltigeur Stakes. He showed at Epsom that good ground holds no terrors although a rogue shower would be a big plus.
There is a cracking two-mile handicap and Bantam is of interest stepping up in trip but my two against the field are bottom weight Knightly Escapade (4.20) and Dolphin Village with marginal preference for the former who is proven at the distance having finished runner up over C&D last time off a 3lb lower mark.
The concluding nursery sees 20 juveniles hurtle down the Knavesmire, and it really is a tricky puzzle to solve. The race fell into the lap of Prize Exhibit at Nottingham last time, given the leaders went off far too fast, but she did win by nine lengths and has an obvious chance of following up.
At the foot of the weights I thought Uptight (4.55) was interesting for Kevin Ryan having won impressively on fast ground at Nottingham on debut travelling like much the best horse in the race. That wasn’t the strongest maiden ever run at Colwick Park but the colt holds a Group One entry later in the year and might be a bit better than a 78-rated animal.
At Killarney Postulation (5.10) can make it third time lucky in the opening maiden having finished runner up to Jamaica (runs York 2.30) at Galway last time when posted wide from a poor draw. Aidan O’Brien saddles a couple of well-bred newcomers including Angel Raphael who has some significant end of season entries and cost 420,000 Guineas as a yearling!
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