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Ebor Festival: York’s ultimate prize
8:13am Wednesday 21st August 2013 in Sport
Jockey Tom Queally celebrates in the parade ring after Frankel wins the 2012 Juddmonte International at York
York Racecourse will today stage its richest ever race – the £750,000 Juddmonte International. Here STEVE CARROLL runs the rule over the six contenders for the jewel in Knavesmire’s crown.
IT will be hard to recreate the Frankel factor, but this year’s Juddmonte International is still expected to be a mouthwatering contest.
The richest race ever to be staged at York, with a prize fund of £750,000, six runners will bid to replicate the feat of Sir Henry Cecil’s wonder horse 12 months ago by taking Group 1 honours.
Originally known as the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup, the contest began life in 1972 when Roberto shocked the seemingly invincible Brigadier Gerard, along with the wider racing world, to claim the inaugural running.
It gave the race a certain notoriety at the start and was initially considered a graveyard for well-fancied horses.
It has since been claimed by the very best – with legendary horses including Dahlia, Troy, Rodrigo de Triano, Falbrav, Authorized and Sea The Stars among its roll of honour.
Lester Piggott and Frankie Dettori remain the race’s most successful jockeys with five victories each, and that’s a figure matched by Sir Michael Stoute, the leading trainer who last claimed York’s jewel in the crown with Notnowcato in 2006.
Current sponsors Juddmonte Farms have been supporting the race since 1989 and after trying and failing for so many years to win his own contest, Prince Khalid Abdullah, the firm’s figurehead, has claimed the last two renewals with Twice Over and Frankel.
Juddmonte International ... the contenders
STABLE star of Roger Charlton’s Wiltshire yard who has been a revelation over the last 15 months.
A worthy favourite, the five-year-old is tilting for a fourth Group 1 victory of the season at Knavesmire following his victory in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July.
Only once raced last year, he opened up this season by winning the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown and has never looked back.
Has already seen off Declaration Of War by two lengths in the Eclipse at Sandown last time out.
Has one appearance at York to his name, when he was smashed eight lengths by Sea Moon in the Great Voltigeur Stakes two years ago. He is a very different animal now.
Copes on firm ground, but is considered better when there is a bit of give in the turf. Will be watching the weather closely.
Owner John Deer said: “He’s had a well-earned rest and I think it’s wise to keep him at a mile and a quarter for now.
“Hopefully he’ll come back from his break as good as ever.”
Declaration Of War
SIX-time winner who claimed the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June for Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Beaten two lengths behind Al Kazeem in the Coral Eclipse on his next outing, the four-year-old has been among the busiest of the Juddmonte contenders.
Third, and three lengths, behind Toronado in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, Declaration Of War went to France ten days ago to compete in the Prix Du Haras De Fresnay-Le-Buffard – Jacques Le Marois.
Finished fourth, two lengths adrift of winner Moonlight Cloud, and others would have to be preferred in this line up.
IMPROVING type who was supplemented at a cost of £75,000 for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, going on to finish third.
His trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, was delighted with the son of Danehill Dancer’s efforts that day, declaring he was “going the right way” and was unlikely to be dropped back in class. The Juddmonte International was the logical next step.
A winner at Ascot in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes, he has been partnered in five of his six races by Ryan Moore.
A LISTED race winner at Goodwood over ten furlongs in May, this represents a considerable step up in class for trainer James Toller’s four-year-old.
Last seen out in June, when only tenth of 15 in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot, the progeny of Motivator looks out of his depth in this field.
Has failed to seriously trouble the judge in four previous efforts in Group company, this will be Rewarded’s first attempt at the highest level.
MUCH of the build-up has surrounded whether Richard Hannon’s Sussex Stakes winner would go head-to-head with Al Kazeem in a York duel.
He is considered a pure miler by the trainer but the huge prize pool, and Hannon’s belief that only Al Kazeem will provide a threat, has tilted the scales in favour of taking a chance over two furlongs further.
The High Chaparral colt has been high class over a mile, winning the Craven Stakes at Newmarket in April.
Was in the frame as Dawn Approach won the 2,000 Guineas and lost by a short-head to his rival in the St James’s Palace Stakes a month later but the third meeting between the pair proved lucky with a half length win in the Sussex.
Sire was versatile between seven and 12 furlongs but Toronado has never been tried at anything over a mile.
Trainer Richard Hannon said: “Hughesie (jockey Richard Hughes) wants me to run him in the Juddmonte.”
HIGHLY regarded son of Teofilo, trained by Jim Bolger in Ireland.
Second to Libertarian in the Dante Stakes, who subsequently was runner-up in the Derby, the three-year-old was third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas before winning a Listed race at Newmarket.
Second to Novellist in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last month after winning the Irish Derby at the end of June, he is proving to be one of the better colts to come from the latest Classic generation.
Bolger considers him the best staying three-year-old around and bids to become the first three-year-old since Sea The Stars in 2009 to beat his elders in the Juddmonte International on Knavesmire.
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