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Runner-by-runner guide to the £1 million Juddmonte International

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Tue 20 Aug 2019

Watch galloping clues, interviews and analysis of the Juddmonte International - plus read the views of Andy Stephens.

The Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival begins with a bang on Wednesday, with the £1 million Juddmonte International taking centre stage.

Sea The Stars, Frankel and Derby winner Australia have shone in the extended ten-furlong showpiece in the past decade, while Roaring Lion also put up a five-star show last year when seven of the eight runners were Group One winners.

Four contenders have yet to win at the highest level this time – Elarqam, Regal Reality, Thundering Blue and King Of Comedy – but the world’s highest-rated horse, Crystal Ocean, who has an official rating of 127, is among the nine runners in the line-up.

His title could come under threat, even if he wins, as Enable (126), Magical (123), Battaash (123), Ten Sovereigns (122) and Stradivarius (121) are among those who will be strutting their stuff later in the week.

Here’s a guide to all the runners in the first-day feature.

1. CHEVAL GRAND

Trainer: Yasuo Tomomichi. Official rating: 119. General odds: 25-1

The 2017 Japan Cup winner was unable to make an impact on easy ground when sixth in the King George at Ascot last month, finishing more than a dozen lengths behind Crystal Ocean. The drying conditions here will help him but this trip on the sharp side for him and he’s not got his head in front since his finest hour in Tokyo. Also, at seven, he would be the oldest winner in the 47-year history of the race.

Mark of out of ten: 4

2. CRYSTAL OCEAN

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute. Official rating: 127. Odds: 6-5

 Enable edges out Crystal Ocean in the King George (Focusonracing)
Enable edges out Crystal Ocean in the King George (Focusonracing)

The highest-rated horse in the world made Enable pull out all the stops in the King George, having previously won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in decisive style. Versatile regards distance/ground and clearly the one to beat on form. The niggle, for those prepared to get involved at short odds, is whether he has had enough time to catch his breath after that epic tussle last month.

Mark of out of ten: 10

3. ELARQAM

Trainer: Mark Johnston. Official rating: 118. Odds: 10-1

Charlie Johnston talks about a horse who is "very special to all of us"

Lost his way last term after finishing fourth in the 2,000 Guineas but has resumed his progress this term, having had a wind op. Put up a career-best when thumping Addeybb (winner since) in a Group 2 contest over course and distance on soft ground last time and no surprise he has been supplemented at a cost of £75,000 on the back of that. Ticks several boxes but requires more back up in class. Mark of out of ten: 7

4. LORD GLITTERS

Trainer: David O’Meara. Official rating: 117. Odds: 20-1

David O'Meara spoke to Lydia Hislop after Lord Glitters won the Stensall Stakes at York

Had been knocking at ten door at the highest level before landing the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. Below that form in the Sussex Stakes last time but the habitual hold-up horse did not have that race run to suit. Unproven beyond nine furlongs but promises to stay and showed his effectiveness at the track when landing the Strensall Stakes last summer.

Mark of out of ten: 7

5. REGAL REALITY

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute. Official rating: 120. Odds: 20-1

Regal Reality finished third in the Eclipse

Has shown a few quirks, especially in the preliminaries, but has upped his game this term and his third place behind Enable and Magical in the Coral-Eclipse did not seem to get to the bottom of him. Failed to reproduce that form on soft ground here last time (finished five lengths behind Elarqam) but no surprise if he bounces back with an improved effort, for all that he might never be one to put maximum faith in.

Mark of out of ten: 6

6. THUNDERING BLUE

Trainer: David Menuisier. Official rating: 112. Odds: 33-1

Watch how Thundering Blue finished third last year

The dashing grey operates well at York and ran a cracker in last year’s hot renewal when staying on strongly from off the pace to be third behind Roaring Lion and Poet’s Word. Would again have place claims if reproducing that form and pleased connections in a recent racecourse gallop at Newmarket under new jockey Jason Watson, but his three runs this term have been lacklustre.

Mark of out of ten: 6

7. CIRCUS MAXIMUS

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Official rating: 118. Odds: 8-1

Circus Maximus and Lord Glitters ran in the Sussex Stakes

Seemed to have his limits exposed when sixth in the Derby after a workmanlike win at Chester, but has subsequently been reinvented as a leading miler – winning the St James’s Palace Stakes (by a neck from King Of Comedy) before chasing home Too Darn Hot in the Sussex Stakes. The return to ten furlongs should not inconvenience him and the blinkers he has worn on his past two starts are retained.

Mark of out of ten: 8

JAPAN

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Official rating: 117. Odds: 5-1

 Japan and his connections after winning in France (Focusonracing)
Japan and his connections after winning in France (Focusonracing)

Won the Group Two Beresford Stakes over a mile as a juvenile last year but has looked well served by a mile and a half this term, finishing a close third in the Derby before winning the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and in Group One company in France. Open to more progress but his form lacks a bit of substance and the drop back in trip is also a concern.

Mark of out of ten: 7

KING OF COMEDY

Trainer: John Gosden. Official rating: 116. Odds: 3-1

John Gosden told Tom Stanley more about King Of Comedy after his win at Sandown this year

Has shown plenty of ability amongst some quirkiness. He was having only his fifth start, having previously chalked up three wins, when splitting Circus Maximus and Too Darn Hot in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, finishing best out wide to go down by a neck. His running style and pedigree offer plenty of hope he will stay this longer trip and, open to more improvement, he commands respect for a team that can do little wrong.

Mark of out of ten: 8

ANDY’S VERDICT:

Crystal Ocean stands out on form and, with no Enable standing in his way this time, should take plenty of stopping. King Of Comedy showed he belongs in the top bracket at Royal Ascot and, a likely stayer with plenty more to offer, may be the one who gives the favourite most to think about in receipt of 7lb. Circus Maximus is the Ballydoyle “second string” but he may be more effective over ten furlongs than his stablemate, Japan, and is also fancied to make the frame.

1 CRYSTAL OCEAN. 2 KING OF COMEDY 3 CIRCUS MAXIMUS

Watch all four days of the the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival live on Racing TV. Click here for more details.

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