Matt Brocklebank looks ahead to the Juddmonte International at York with a long-range 20/1 fancy taken to upset the established brigade.
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SANGARIUS looks capable of progressing into the kind of horse who could trouble the pick of the older, middle-distance stars in the Juddmonte International.
We’re a little over a month away from the Ebor Festival showpiece at York and plenty of water will pass under the bridge before they go to post on Wednesday, August 21.
The key piece of evidence we'll require when it comes to weighing up Sangarius as a potential contender will emerge in the Sky Bet York Stakes, reportedly the next target for Sir Michael Stoute's Royal Ascot winner.
The move up to Group Two level at York later this month looks a nice stepping stone back towards the top table for the son of Kingman, whose fast-track to Group One level as a juvenile became a bit of a baptism of fire.
Two from two after nosing home at Newmarket on debut and following up in resounding fashion in Doncaster’s Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes last year, Sangarius was more than entitled to take his chance in the Dewhurst, but it all proved too much as he finished fourth of seven as an easy-to-back 8/1 chance.
With the benefit of hindsight, the horse clearly faced a mountainous task at Newmarket that day, the three to finish in front of him – Too Darn Hot, Advertise and Anthony Van Dyck – all going on to Group One victories at three.
But it was back to the drawing board somewhat and a relatively low-key start to the current campaign under a penalty in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown.
Sporting a first-time tongue tie after reports of him coming to hand slower than most in the spring, Sangarius was a drifter in the betting again and finished third to King Of Comedy, but it wasn’t a run devoid of promise and he duly took a considerable leap forward to win the Hampton Court Stakes under an Ascot-inspired Frankie Dettori.
The race lacked strength in depth and Sangarius was seemingly well suited by the rain that fell earlier in the week at the Royal meeting, but there was also lot to like about the way he moved, was able to extricate himself from a spot of trouble two out, before putting things to bed in a matter of strides.
That scintillating turn of speed will stand him in good stead moving forward and, in Stoute, he’s obviously with the right man when it comes to his future development as a top middle-distance campaigner.
No trainer can match Stoute when it comes to his six career Juddmonte International wins and Sangarius looks one of the more interesting contenders for the great trainer at this stage.
Crystal Ocean, Regal Reality and Mustrashy, aged five, four and six respectively, complete Stoute’s quartet currently engaged at York.
On the same Saturday as the Sky Bet York Stakes (July 27), Crystal Ocean looks set to do battle once more with Enable, who looked so good when beating Magical and Regal Reality in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
Enable heads the betting for the International (6/4) with Crystal Ocean (7/2) next in the market but there are no guarantees both (or either) will run, especially when at least one of them is bound to be turned over at Ascot.
Enable also has the option of the Yorkshire Oaks when it comes to the Ebor Festival, and while that would seem unlikely right now, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that John Gosden and the team aim to give her the lightest prep possible ahead of a bid to make history in the Arc de Triomphe.
In many ways, Crystal Ocean is almost harder to oppose from an antepost point of view as he’s looked better than ever, but Stoute hasn’t aimed him at the York feature in the past and dropping back to 10 furlongs at York after what promises to be a gruelling next test over the longer distance may not prove to be idea.
There's most likely nothing in it, but Crystal Ocean hasn't been back to York since his third to Permian in the 2017 Dante.
The York market looks even messier in behind the principals, Anthony Van Dyck another on course to collide with Enable in the King George and Lord Glitters clearly more effective at the bare mile, primarily on Ascot’s straight course.
Quite what to make of St James's Palace Stakes winner Circus Maximus and what may prove to be his best distance takes a bit of guesswork, while King Of Comedy looks bound for the Sussex Stakes, along with Ascot flop Phoenix Of Spain and maybe even the subsequently absent 2000 Guineas hero Magna Grecia.
Benbatl was brushed aside at York last year and hasn’t been seen at all this time around after following home Winx in October, and the Investec Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood now has it all to prove after disappointing on ground faster than ideal in the Pretty Polly.
A case of sorts could definitely be made for Hermosa (20/1), who won back-to-back Classics earlier in the campaign and shaped like a move up to 10 furlongs some time soon wouldn’t do her any harm when second in the Coronation Stakes.
She’s entered up to the nines as you might expect, with the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood possibly the next port of call. It wouldn’t be a shock to even see her over a mile and a half at some point this term so the Yorkshire Oaks might be a temptation and on balance she’s just passed over in favour of Sangarius at the same price.
He's got an awful lot to find with the big guns still but he's on course for a prep race he'll be strongly fancied to win and after a weekend in which three-year-olds dominated the Group One July Cup - the Classic generation representing the first five home at Newmarket - there's a real temptation to get a promising one on side at a big price for this particular late-summer highlight.
Posted at 1445 BST on 14/07/19.