Tag Archives: Juddmonte International

Preview: Juddmonte International 2018

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This is not a vintage renewal of the Juddmonte International… as so many other major flat races this year. It feels a bit like a flat flat season, so to speak. I seem not to be the only one who feels this way. On the other hand, the question could be asked: are we undervaluing the achievements of Poet’s Voice?

Possibly. Possibly not. Possibly because he’s a five-year old, around for a long time, and this sudden improvement which has seen the Stoute inmate landing two major Group 1 races on the bounce – the Prince of Wales and King George – hasn’t caused the same excitement as they would have if a sexy Ballydoyle three-year old would have done the same.

Possibly not, though, because the key rivals he’s beaten at Royal Ascot were clearly out of form and not quite up to the standard you’d usually see in a King George either.

I’m sitting on the fence here. I don’t rate the Royal Ascot success all that highly, although felt Poet’s Voice King George success was a stunning performance, if only visually. Coming from off the pace, to peg back a fine Ledger runner-up, who got first run – that was quite something.

That says, I do not think Poet’s Voice has suddenly found all this dramatic improvement over the last winter, that has resulted in him shooting up the ratings from a 119 rated individual to a world-class high 130.

In fact, I do firmly believe – while acknowledging he seems to improve with age – he is not dramatically better than his runner-up performance in the Irish Champion Stakes last year. A view that may not be shared by many.

What does this mean in the context of this race today? It means that the gap between Poet’s Voice and the leading three-year old’s going to post isn’t as high as the official ratings says. And if that is the assumption then both Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior in particular must have cracking chances to overturn the favourite as they receive 7lb through weight for age.

While Benbatl and Irish Derby winner Latrobe can’t be underestimated, my view is that the Eclipse first and second are the main dangers to short priced favourite Poet’s Voice.

Personally I am more a fan of Roaring Lion but from a betting perspective I have to concede the price for Saxon Warrior is foolish. Let’s not forget there was only a neck between the pair at Sandown.

One could make cases for the Ballydoyle horses had the run of the race, or that Roaring Lion drifted to his right pushing Saxon Warrior toward the rails in the closing stages which may have cost him momentum.

Either way, there is clearly not a lot between these two. However the betting would suggest Roaring Lion is a couple of lengths better than the reigning 2000 Guineas winner. Not in my book.

The trip may be in favour of Roaring Lion, and also Poet’s Voice. Or is it? Saxon Warrior stays the trip as good as these two I believe. Given he had a good break now and comes here relatively fresh is a positive.

After all there is very little between three three market principles in my view.  Hence the 6/1 on offer for last years Racingpost Trophy winner is over the top.

Selection: 
10pts win – Saxon Warrior @ 6/1 PP

Thursday Selections: 24th August 2017

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Not often you see a horse strongly travelling, in fact cantering all over his rivals until nearly the final furlong marker in a premier Group 1 race. If it happens it must rate as a special performance. So it was. Take a bow Ulysses. That was spectacular!

I made him the favourite in my book, however felt the rain might count slightly against him. How wrong I was. I was also wrong doubting Churchill’s staying ability. How dare I doubt a son of Galileo?! He wasn’t quite good enough in the end, but confirmed that he is all class.

But sometimes you bump into a better one. This one was Ulysses today. Another late bloomer so speak in the care of brilliant Sir Michael.

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3.00 York: Class 2 Handicap, 1m

Big Baz is a big prize and hasn’t shown too much this season to warrant a awful lot of respect. Still, it would be foolish to rule him out completely in a race that takes a bit of luck to win anyways.

What will the ground be like? There is no further rain expected, or at least not a lot, temperatures are balmy, so it might be good to soft, good in places by race time I reckon. That’s fair enough. Big Baz has form on softish ground but also on quicker surfaces, so that side of the equation won’t be an issue I think. Trip suits fine, no problem.

His Newbury Cup performance off 7lb higher back in April gives him a shot at this with the ease in the mark surely a help. The draw isn’t ideal, though, and Big Baz is not a confident selection, but is a value price in my book, nonetheless.

Selection:
10pts win – Big Baz @ 66/1 Paddy Power

Wednesday Selections – Juddmonte International 2017

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Big drift in the betting for Tuesday’s selection Alternate Route. So it was no surprise to see having a slow start to his race and as a consequence were never really in it.

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2.25 York: Group 3 Acomb Stakes, 7f

Dee Ex Bee was mightily impressive on debut at Goodwood. That looks rock solid form but it was more virtually plus on the clock what impressed me. He made all, going aggressively forward right from the start and found a lot when asked serious questions.

Granted the soft ground probably helped in terms of how far the rest of the field trailed him in the end and there will be different ground conditions here – however any rain will help, and with significant amounts of showers on their way he should be fine on ground that is likely not lightning fast.

He clocked a superb 89 TS on debut. With natural improvement and a top draw, this son of Farhh, who has had an excellent start with his first crop, should be very hard to beat.

Selection:
10pts win – Dee Ex Bee @ 9/4 bet365

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3.35 York: Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes, 1m 2f

Cracking renewal and five of the seven starters have strong credentials to land the big pot. Eclipse winner and King George runner-up Ulysses sets the standard in my mind. Drop in trip will suit after being outstayed at Ascot by star filly Enable.

He travelles strongly through his races and no more so at Sandown when wearing Barney Roy down. Slight concern is the rain coming. He obviously has fine form with cut in the ground in the book, however to my eye is clearly at his best when the ground is fast.

Whether Barney Roy truly wants 10 furlongs remains to be seen. Any rain will hinder his chances I believe and while he is certainly a top class colt I don’t think he should be the favourite.

2000 Guineas winner Churchill returns after being taken out at Goodwood and a lackluster performance at Royal Ascot. He is by Galileo so the step up to 10f may not be as big an issue as some commentators make it out to be. He also has form on slow ground in case the rain would have a big impact.

However how much more can he improve for the new trip? He’s already had 9 career starts and his target was clearly the Guineas.

Aiden O’Brien’s “second” string, Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher appears to be a more interesting contender. He probably was a bit unlucky in the Eclipse when he finished fourth, as he was badly hampered in the middle of the race and lost all momentum.

He’s still only had five runs and can still improve. 10f on any sort of ground will suit and interestingly he is the only one who already matched a 112 top speed rating that otherwise only Ulysses has been able to achieve.

The filly Shutter Speed beat Enable earlier the year and that sort of performance gives her a chance. Nonetheless she has a bit to find with the boys I feel. It’s a tough task for her, though interesting to see a tongue tie applied for the first time.

You can’t fully discount Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Decorative Knight. He was well held in the Eclipse Stakes after clipping heels midterm. Could run well for a big price.

Selection:
10pts win – Cliffs Of Moher @ 11/2 Paddy Power

Postponed a brilliant International winner!

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I don’t really feel in the mood to lose too many words about the Juddmonte International after making a fool of myself yesterday, doubting Postponed. Well, hindsight is funny thing, isn’t it?

Nonetheless, credit where credit is due: Postponed is a superstar! I think that is fair to say now, after finally winning a Group 1 over 10 furlongs – and not just a Micky Mouse one – this was quite a decent field.

Andrea Atzeni gave him an excellent ride – for years now Atzeni is one of those no nonsense jockeys, doing more often than not the simple but right things.

He tracked the leaders for most of the time and then pressed the button on Postponed over 3 furlongs – probably slightly earlier than it would be ideal – but it was the right move at the right time. Once hitting top gear, Postponed is always sure to march strongly toward the line.

The form looks legit, given 121 rated Highland Reel ran a stormer, finishing a 1¼ lengths beaten runner-up, with 118 rated Mutakayyek a further lengths behind in third.

On the other hand Wings Of Desire was a total no-show whereas Hawkbill seemingly didn’t act on the fast ground.

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Thursday Selections:

3.40 York: Furia Cruzada @ 20/1 Ladbrokes
6.10 Hamilton: Ss Vega @ 4/1 Skybet

Photo: Skysports

Big Race Preview: Juddmonte International

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It shouldn’t feel easy to oppose a horse with an ultra impressive record reading something like 11-111 for the last five starts. Even more when those wins came in either Group 1 or 2 company. It shouldn’t be easy…..

But it is! Postponed, red hot favourite to land the Juddmonte International today, developed into a serious world-class horse, no doubt. He’s going to be a prime contender to win an Arc this year,should connections opt to go down this route.

That’s the future – but what about today? Well, I’m leaning wide out of the window – potentially making a fool of myself – nonetheless I have to say Postponed should not be clear cut favourite today. He really shouldn’t!

See it this way: except for a maiden success, Postponed has actually never won below 11 furlongs – in fact all his wins on Group level came over one mile and half a furlong!

He’s not a slow horse. And yes, given his impressive performances lately, it appears that he could well have enough pace to be competitive over 1m 2f – yet he simply hasn’t shown it in the past – or at least it was never good enough to get his head in front.

Now, he looked super impressive in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. Naturally that form should give him a major chance. One the other hand I feel the drop down to 10 furlongs at flat York on fast ground is an entirely different test. He’s meeting some speedier sorts and I suspect he’s get rolling way too late.

So if not Postponed, who then? Well, Globetrotter Highland Reel must play a big role. He is not a flashy superstar by all means, but developed into a consistent top level performer.

He’s excelled over 12 furlongs lately, though I believe he has enough pace to ensure a drop in trip is no big deal. Let’s not forget Highland Reel won the Goodwood Vintage Stakes over seven furlongs as a juvenile, where he produced a stunning turn of foot.

However the most likely winner of the race is Godolphin’s Hawkbill. His Coral Eclipse success, subsequently franked by The Gurkha in the Sussex Stakes, is the strongest piece of form on offer in this field over the 10 furlongs trip.

As a three year old with weight for age advantage he must have a tremendous chance – as long as he acts on fast ground. As a son of Kitten’s Joy you would think he’s got no issues with that.

However looking closer, Kitten’s Joy offspring actually has not been all that successful on fast ground in the UK over the years. Only 9.6% of his daughters and sons won races and even less of those won on fast ground over 10 furlongs.

John Gosden’s Wings of Desire gets another chance today to prove he is a proper Group 1 horse. The Dante Stakes winner and Derby fourth was far from disgraced in second place behind Highland Reel at Royal Ascot but seemed not to get home over 12 furlongs – so dropping him back in trip is a positive.

I feel this is his best chance to win a Group 1 to date. In fact today he really has to show what he’s made of. No excuses. He has to improve a bit, of course, but with conditions very likely to suit, he has every chance to find the bit of improvement needed to challenge hard.

Interesting side note: Wings Of Desire is a son of Pivotal, whose offspring performs incredibly well over this trip and ground at York – a small sample size it is, but a 60% win- and 100% place strike rate in pattern races seems significant.

Anyone else with a chance? Well, you can’t rule out Mutakayyef. He won two on the bounce and tries to bring this form to the highest level now. Dariyan has been disappointing lately, but on his best, could finish in the money.

That says at the prices, I think Wings of Desire is the most compelling bet in the race. I really do expect him to run a huge race.

Selection: Wings Of Desire @ 12/1 Ladbrokes

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Best of the Rest:

2.20 Chepstow: Island In The Sky @ 7/4 Skybet
2.30 York: Courage Under Fire @ 7/1 Bet365
2.45 Carlisle: Senator @ 5/6 Skybet
2.55 Chepstow: Hidden Stash @ 11/4 Bet365
3.30 Chepstow: Curriculum @ 11/8 Coral
4.55 York: Kamra @ 16/1 Bet365
7.40 Kempton: Certified @ 9/1 Bet365
8.40 Kempton: Saborido @ 14/1 Bet365

Photo: Britishchampionseries.com/Racingfotos.com

Tuesday’s Racing Talk

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SLOW burning day, but no surprise given the Ebor Festival is looming large. Not much caught my eye today with the exception of the story that Jamie Spencer lost the ride on The Grey Gatsby in the Juddmonte International.

“The horse needs a fresh pair of hands” says trainer Kevin Ryan. So Danny Tudhope gets the nod. Tudhope is a bit the man of the hour after his sensational ride in the Arlington Million last Saturday.

Question is: does this jockey change make actually any difference in the big race tomorrow? Probably not. Jamie Spencer, regarded as villain number one of every armchair jockey, has done little wrong when riding The Grey Gatsby.

But you know how it is: changing things for the sake of it can sometimes make you feel better, though how often does it lead to something good? Well, just think about how often football teams change their manager and how often this leads to sustained success…..

Stat of the Day:

35 – James Tate’s win percentage in Handicaps at Wolverhampton in the summer! Delivers an ROI of 94%, and he’s been even better over the last two summers posing an ultra impressive 62.5% place strike rate at this venue!

Interestingly his success rate drops significantly for the rest of the year, so it seems Tate exploits those often less competitive races on the Wolverhampton All-Weather, knowing how to target particularly the low grade handicaps.

His top contender today is filly Mayasa – her chances are boosted by her pedigree, given Iffraaj offspring acts extremely well at the Wolverhampon tapeta.

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Tuesday Selections:

6.30 Wolverhampton: Suffragette City @ 3/1 WH
7.30 Wolverhampton: Mayasa @ 9/4 Ladbrokes
7.40 Leicester: Alnashama @ 5/2 Ladbrokes
9.00 Wolverhampton: Sharp Jack @ 18/1 Coral