Take Toronado to step up
Channel 4 commentator Simon Holt previews the action from the opening day of York's Ebor meeting.
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The decision to step smart three-year-old miler TORONADO up in distance for the Juddmonte International at York on Wednesday has added tremendous interest to the Group One first-day highlight of the Ebor meeting.
Up until the Sussex Stakes winner's confirmation, the race looked like an Al Kazeem benefit but Roger Charlton's tough and classy five-year-old - the winner of all four of his starts this season (the last three at Group One level) - now faces a serious challenge.
It is almost impossible to undermine Al Kazeem's credentials in any way; he has been freshened up since winning the Eclipse at Sandown in early July, seems ideally suited by this ten-furlong distance and, all in all, is an admirable racehorse.
Suitability for the trip is the big question that Toronado has to answer here but this son of Derby winner High Chapparal looks to have enough stamina in his pedigree to stay well, and Richard Hughes should be able to bide his time as he did so beautifully when nailing Dawn Approach down at Goodwood.
A line through the reopposing Sussex Stakes third Declaration Of War (beaten three lengths) - and subsequently a creditable fourth behind Moonlight Cloud in the Prix Jacques le Marois - suggests the three-year-old has a big chance of upsetting Al Kazeem who beat the same horse just two lengths at Sandown.
It is sure to be a tremendous race and one imagines that Toronado's rivals - who also include proven 12 furlong horses like Trading Leather and Hillstar (second and third behind Novellist in the King George last time) - will be intent on applying plenty of pace pressure.
However, if the selection stays, he may have too much speed - too much class for them - in the run to the line.
Earlier, TELESCOPE can finally justify his tall reputation by taking the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes, traditionally a trial for the Ladbrokes St Leger.
The Highclere-owned colt doesn't hold an entry (yet) for Doncaster but has been earmarked for both the Irish and English Champion Stakes' which is a strong indication of the regard in which he is held.
Having only his fourth career start, and raised in class to Group Three company, Telescope was a beaten favourite behind David Livingston at Haydock last time but kept going bravely and is fancied to improve for the experience and the extra ground here in this 12-furlong test.
Several rivals took part in the Gordon Stakes - another Leger trial - at Glorious Goodwood where Cap O'Rushes beat the unlucky Excess Knowledge by a head with Spillway beaten another length into third and Secret Number fifth.
However, that looked a messy race (the runner-up should probably have won) and a more interesting runner here is the Aidan O'Brien-trained Foundry, a runaway winner of his only start at Leopardstown last November.
That form is working out fairly well - the third and fifth home are now rated in the 90s - but, while significant that he is deemed good enough for this challenge (he also holds a Leger entry), Foundry's inexperience - even compared to the lightly-raced Telescope - may just count against him.