2020 Juddmonte International (G1) Preview
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Courtesy of Michael Adolphson
Race: Juddmonte International Stakes
Grade: Group 1
Purse: Decreased for 2020 to $360,000; $1.3 million in 2019
Racecourse: York Racecourse (United Kingdom)
Win and You’re In: $7 Million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)
· Over an extended 10 furlongs (plus 168ft) and annually one of the top-rated flat races in the world.
· Located in the north of England in the historic city of York, an area settled first around 7000 BC and founded as a city in 71 AD.
· Relatively flat, quick course with a long straight of approximately a half-mile to the finish.
· Known to be rather fair to all types of running styles.
· Aidan O’Brien, who trains Magical, would break his tie (6 wins) with Sir Michael Stoute with a victory in 2020.
· Frankie Dettori, who is tied with Lester Piggott for the record in wins (5), will miss the mount on Lord North due to the quarantine regulations.
· 1987 winner Triptych had finished 6th in the 1986 BC Classic and went on to finish 4th 1988 BC Turf.
· 1989 winner Ile de Chypre went on to finish 4th in the BC Turf.
· 1990 winner In the Groove went on to be unplaced in the BC Turf of 1991.
· 1992 winner Rodrigo de Triano was unplaced in the BC Classic.
· 1993 and 1994 winner Ezzoud would go on to finish 7th in the BC Classics of those respective years.
· 1995 and 1996 winner Halling was unplaced behind Cigar in the 1995 BC Classic.
· 1999 winner Royal Anthem went on to finish 2nd in the BC Turf behind Daylami.
· 2000 winner Giant’s Causeway and 2001 winner Sakhee both went on to finish 2nd in the BC Classic behind repeat winner Tiznow.
· Rip Van Winkle and Twice Over, winners in 2010 and 2011, both previously competed in the 2009 BC Classic, losing to Zenyatta.
· 2013 winner Declaration of War (2013) finished a close 3rd in the BC Classic.
· 2017 winner Ulysses won this one year after finishing 4th in the BC Turf.
· 2018 winner Roaring Lion was unplaced in the BC Classic.
Note: OR (Official Ratings) are provided. To give class context on those numbers, USA champion Tepin was rated 122, Goldikova topped out at 125 and the great Enable is rated 128.
GHAIYYATH (Charlie Appleby / William Buick) – 6/5
Godolphin | OR: 127
Few horses have been more exciting this season than the strong-travelling goliath named Ghaiyyath, who takes the race right to his foes. A front-running phenom, he has learned to relax this year while leading and such was on display last out when he defeated the great Enable in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (G1) at Sandown in July and Stradivarius in the Coronation Cup (G1) at Newmarket in June. A perfect 3-for-3 in 2020, he set a course record at Meydan earlier this season in the Dubai Millennium (G3) over ten furlongs and was the heavy favorite for the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) before it was cancelled. He is the one to catch, one to beat and considered by many to be the best horse in training in the world.
“We’re in good shape,” Appleby said (via Nick Luck Daily Podcast). “This year has been a great year for him, winning the Coronation and the Coral-Eclipse, and it was always our plan to head for the Juddmonte International thereafter. His preparation has gone well to date. He looks great and is giving us all the right signs. He had an easy piece of work (last Wednesday), and everyone was very pleased.
“He’s more of a finished article now,” Appleby continued to Luck. “His post-race condition is a lot stronger this year than it has been in the past. There’s no doubt we’re talking about a different animal than we were dealing with over his two, three and four-year-old career. I was very lucky to have Masar win the Derby and have Hawkbill and horses like that. Ghaiyyath has always been one of those horses that excites you in the morning—he’s such an extravagant galloper and great mover and he’s delivered in the afternoons. He’s a horse we’ve had to handle with care, but where he stands now and what he’s achieved to date, he’d definitely be the best middle-distance horse I’ve ever handled.”
MAGICAL (Aidan O’Brien / Ryan Moore) – 7/2
Coolmore (Smith, Magnier & Tabor) | OR: 122
She has won six G1 races and is the measurement stick of class in European middle-distance turf races. Carrying the silks of Coolmore partner Derrick Smith, Magical has been an absolute warrior over four seasons of G1 performances, including a pair of G1 victories this season and a fabulous defense of her title in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) at The Curragh. She has won her past three—all in G1 company—including a brilliant win over Addeybb and Deirdre in the Champion Stakes (G1) at Ascot in October, after which she was scheduled to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Turf as the co-favorite with Bricks and Mortar, but was scratched during the lead-up week. Remembered mostly by American fans as the filly who chased Enable home in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), she has competed in 16 G1 races in four countries and has the tactical speed and stamina to give Ghaiyyath a proper challenge throughout.
“She is a great mare,” O’Brien said (via Racing Post). “The only reason she is here now is because of the progress she made over the winter and she had progressed again from the Pretty Polly, so we are delighted the lads kept her in training.”
KAMEKO (Andrew Balding / Oisin Murphy) – 4/1
Qatar Racing | OR: 119
Two years ago, Qatar Racing won the Juddmonte with a son of Kitten’s Joy who did not quite stay the 12 furlongs of the Investec Derby (G1) and his name was Roaring Lion. The ownership returns with another this year—this time trained by Andrew Balding—in Kameko, who was a popular winner of the classic 2000 Guineas (G1) in record time in June. Stretching out to the extended 10 furlongs is the major question for the Calumet Farm-bred two-time G1 winner—a question Roaring Lion did not have coming into his Juddmonte International. Winner of the Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1) as a juvenile, announcing himself as a serious player in the classics, he exits a tough-luck run in the Sussex Stakes (G1) at Goodwood.
“We always thought this would be his trip, but you never know until you try. He shaped like a mile was his strip in the Sussex Stakes, but as long as he stays, he has got the class to run a big race,” Balding said (via Irish Racing). “Ghaiyyath will make sure it is a truly-run race and he is a top-class horse, as is Lord North and (Magical). It’s a proper race and I’m glad to be part of it.”
· VIDEO: 2019 Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1) (At The Races)
LORD NORTH (John Gosden / James Doyle) – 4/1
HH Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed Racing | OR: 124
Any other year, Lord North would be considered the proverbial ‘now’ horse, as he has improved many lengths from age three to four. A winner of six from nine starts, he dismantled the field last out in Royal Ascot’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1), winning by a widening 3¾ lengths under James Doyle, who has the return call. A race prior to that, just 10 days before, he defeated well-regarded Elarqam in the Brigadier Gerard (G3), announcing to the world that he could be a force in 2020 for the already deep shedrow of John Gosden. If he does earn the “Win and You’re In,” Lord North would be immensely interesting, as he is bred throughout his pedigree to handle dirt and has already proven that he loves the distance.
“He’s in great form since the Prince of Wales’s at Royal Ascot. We’ve been very happy with him. This is an extremely smart race and a good quality field,” Gosden said (via Oli Bell). “I think he’s capable of holding his own against most. I think Ghaiyyath ran down the road in the Coronation when he broke the track record and again (with) his domination of the Eclipse, he’s a mature, battle-hardened warrior now, so he’s not going to be easy for anybody to beat.”
· VIDEO: 2020 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) (At The Races)
ASPETAR (Roger Charlton / Jason Watson) – 14/1
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani | OR: 118
The local prep, over course and distance, is the York Stakes (G2) and has often provided more than one tough competitor for the Juddmonte over the years. This year it presents Roger Charlton trainee Aspetar, a G1 winner in Germany last year who will look to improve upon his sire Al Kazeem’s third-place finish in this race as the favorite in 2013. He must improve markedly to win this, but would not be a surprise if he finished top three.
“If we could finish third or fourth, it would be great,” Charlton said (via Thoroughbred Daily News). “There aren’t many options if you win a Group 2. I looked in France, and you have to carry a 4½-pound penalty taking on horses like Sottsass—you’ve got no chance. We might as well try and be third or fourth at York.
· VIDEO: 2019 Preis von Europa (G1) (Deutscher Galopp)
ROSE OF KILDARE (Mark Johnston / Franny Norton) – 66/1
Kingsley Park 14 | OR: 103
A tough 3-year-old filly in top form, Rose of Kildare is hoping home-field advantage comes into play as she takes on the best middle-distances horses in the world. A winner last out in the Musidora Stakes (G3) over this course and distance, she is trained by the master Mark Johnston, whose impeccable record at York speaks for itself. Already raced 16 times, the hard-knocking daughter of 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile fifth Make Believe must step up in a big way just to place. Make Believe is having an impeccable first crop, including French Derby winner Mishriff, prompting Qatar Racing to buy the broodmare rights to this filly earlier this week.
· VIDEO: 2020 Musidora Stakes (G3) (ITV Racing Twitter)
SYNOPSIS: It will be a classic case of ‘catch me if you can’ with Ghaiyyath, who is the English version of Ghostzapper—he has enough speed to bury you early and late. The key appears to be what Ryan Moore will do on Magical and how hard and early he will push the favorite. Kameko has pace, but will likely want to show his immense kick from behind along with Lord North—so both need a strong pace up front in order to do so. Lord North appears the most exciting of the challengers, as he may yet improve and has arguably the deadliest turn-of-foot. Rose of Kildare and Aspetar will hope their consistency earns them a big check if one or more of the aforementioned have a bad day. What is exciting, as far as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge perspective, is that both Ghaiyyath and Lord North are by Dubawi, whose offspring typically love the dirt (e.g. Benbatl, North America, Prince Bishop, Muntazah), so a victory by either could be a good sign for those hoping for a European contender in this year’s $7 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.
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