David Ord has a horse-by-horse guide to Wednesday's Juddmonte International at York and takes an improving three-year-old to come out on top.
2017 Japan Cup winner but not scaled those heights since. Rain-softened ground an obvious excuse for a below-par run in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last time (12 lengths adrift of Crystal Ocean) but even so it’s a huge leap of faith to see him making the required improvement to shake up the favourite. Deirdre did wonders for the global game at Goodwood, he faces a much sterner task to follow in her hoofprints.
Wonderful five-year-old who claimed a deserved first Group One prize at this trip when getting first run on Magical and readily fending her off in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. Improved even on that effort when making Enable pull out all the stops in a King George of the ages at Ascot last time and deserves his place at the head of the market. It will take an improved performance from one of his rivals to beat him if he brings his A-Game to the table.
One-time Classic hope who has got his career firmly back on track with wins at Goodwood, Sandown and York this season. It was his performance in the Sky Bet York Stakes over course-and-distance which booked his ticket here (a three-and-a-quarter lengths defeat of Addeybb) and he looks ready for a return to the top table. He’s a potential pace angle here too and would be dangerous to underestimate from the front.
Steps up to ten furlongs for the first time for David O’Meara and does so in a season in which he’s landed a coveted major prize, the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot. He’s well worth a try at the trip, having won well over nine furlongs at Meydan in March, but would need to take a step forward for it to lower the colours of one or two of these.
Beat Matterhorn in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes in May but came up short behind Enable in the Coral-Eclipse and well beaten behind Elarqam here last time. The soft ground could have been a factor there for all he’s run well on it before, but even at his very best he’d have a bit to find.
Loves this place and excelled himself when third behind Roaring Lion in last year’s renewal of this race. Yet to fire this term but tough and as admirable as he is, it’s hard to see the popular grey adding this prestigious prize to his impressive York haul.
Looked a potential St Leger horse when winning the Dee Stakes at Chester and finishing sixth in the Investec Derby but connections knew better. He dropped back to a mile to win the St James’s Palace Stakes and while Too Darn Hot took his revenge in the Sussex Stakes last month, this colt was rallying well at the line. The quick mile there just caught him out and we know he gets this trip. Tough and genuine, he’ll give his all but is vulnerable to anything with a genuine turn of foot.
Improved with his racing this term and having finished third in the Investec Derby, went on to win the King Edward VII Stakes and Grand Prix De Paris. He switches back to ten furlongs here but has pace and travels well through his races. The suspicion remains we haven’t seen the best of him - and what we have seen has been impressive.
KING OF COMEDY
The one in the field open to significant improvement and he came from a long way back to be beaten a neck into second by Circus Maximus at Royal Ascot. That was a big step up form his Listed win at Sandown and he was much more professional at the Berkshire track. He’s a work in progress who promises to relish the step up to ten furlongs and he doesn’t have to improve much for it to be a big threat to the favourite.
Crystal Ocean deserves his place at the head of the market and will take plenty of beating but it’s reflected in his price and KING OF COMEDY rates an interesting bet against him. John Gosden’s charge has been steadily building all season and looked unlucky when second to Circus Maximus at Royal Ascot. He’s crying out for this step up to ten furlongs and his finishing kick will be a potent weapon in any company.
Japan and Circus Maximus have to be respected in a fascinating renewal of the race while Elarqam arrives here on a roll and with his confidence restored.