Jordan Yates' York Ebor Festival 2018 Preview. (Juddmonte International Day)
It’s Day One of the York Ebor Festival which of course means the feature contest comes in the form of none other than the Juddmonte International. A Group 1 contest that’s ridden over a distance of a mile and two furlongs and it’s a race which has a very illustrious back catalogue of winners which include the likes of Frankel and Sea The Stars to name but a few. It was won last year by Ulysses for Sir Michael Stoute and it’s Sir Michael that’s looking to claim this year’s renewal too as he’s represented by the market leader in Poet’s Word.
Poet’s Word comes here enjoying a fine campaign culminating in winning the King George the last day when beating stablemate Crystal Ocean in what was a pulsating finish to say the least. He has to give weight away to some rivals who are sitting prominently in the betting but I’d still be surprised if that was enough to prevent another bold showing. James Doyle once again takes the ride and you can find him trading around the 11/8 mark. Just following Poet’s Word in the market is a horse who has also having a fine campaign and that’s none other than Roaring Lion for John Gosden, he comes here off the back of a hard fought victory in the Eclipse at Sandown Park and looks a serious player. He brings solid course form to the table too after a devastating display in the Dante here in May and it’d certainly be a surprise if he wasn’t playing a part at the business end of things in this. Oisin Murphy once again takes the ride and he’s generally an 11/4 chance.
Next up in the market comes Saxon Warrior for Aiden O’Brien and Ryan Moore a horse that’s quite a strange one to get your head around as a whole, he looked to be a potential world beater when winning the Guineas in May but things haven’t gone quite to plan since. That’s not to say he’s been running bad races, he’s finished fourth in the Epsom Derby as well as placing in the Irish equivalent and his best run since that Guineas victory looked to come the last day when just being edged out in the Eclipse close home by today’s rival Roaring Lion. There may well still be more to come from this clearly talented sort and he’s a 5/1 chance.
There’s a bit of a gap to the rest of the field in the betting and this starts off with Benbatl for Saeed Bin Suroor and Jim Crowley. His only bad run of this season came in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot when he went off favourite but completely flopped. He put that soon behind him though when bolting up in a German Group 1 the last day and if turning up in the same kind of form we’ve seen him in this year in Dubai he’s surely a player at decent odds, currently aroud 10/1. Next up comes Without Parole for John Gosden and the mount of Frankie Dettori, he was last seen when putting in an imensely disapointing effort when finishing down the field when favourite for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. He was unbeaten before that with that unbeaten run culminating in winning the St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. He’ll have to prove he can stay this trip and take a step up on his best form if he is to feature here. He’s a general a 6/1 chance.
The Irish Derby winner also lines up here and that’s of course Latrobe for Joseph O’Brien, the last time he was seen was when winning that particular contest and if turning up in the same form here he’s likely to put on a bold showing. Wayne Lordan this time takes the ride and he’s a best priced 16/1. Another runner for Bin Suroor up next and that’s of course Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow, he’s another that’s been off since his big day but that was significantly longer than Latrobe’s absence. He hasn’t won in the UK since his debut and will need a lot to go right for him, Christophe Soumillon is back on board and he’s a general 18/1 chance. The horse that makes the field up is fan favourite Thundering Blue for David Menuisier, a real credit of horse who took his form from handicaps to Group 2 success here the last day. This requires another huge step up and this is reflected in his 50/1 price.
VERDICT: I have a tendancy to follow horses off cliffs and i’m gearing up for going right off the edge again here, with that introduction you’ve probably guessed it i’m going to side with SAXON WARRIOR again. My reasoning for this being that obviously he gets the weight off Poet’s Word and he looked to be going the right way to getting back to his best with that run the last day when just being edged out by Roaring Lion at Sandown after a slight knock close home. With a clear run i’m hoping he get back in the winners enclosure here despite it looking a tough ask.
SAXON WARRIOR (5/1) (E/W)