Juddmonte International Preview: Kameko to sparkle at York

Guineas hero Kameko can light up York on Wednesday.
Guineas hero Kameko can light up York on Wednesday.

Steve Chambers previews the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes, which is the feature race on day one of York's Ebor Festival and has attracted a small, but select field of five runners...

We may have the smallest field for this race since 2011, but the quintet battling it out for glory on the Knavesmire line up with a raft of top-level successes between them, and they are set to serve up an absolutely corking renewal of the 1m 2f 56y showpiece.

Charlie Appleby's Ghaiyyath lines up as the hot favourite to claim the prize, and he arrives on the back of two spectacular wins this season. Having smashed the track record with victory in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket, he then produced  a sparkling win over dual Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine Enable in the Coral-Eclipse, and a repeat of either of those runs would see him go very close.

William Buick is sure to adopt the usual front-running tactics that have proved to be so successful in recent times, and the Godolphin raider will make it a real test of stamina. Now a five-year-old, Ghaiyyath is flourishing in later life, and he is most certainly the one to beat - particularly if Buick can get an easy time of things out in front. However, you get the feeling that the other riders on the remaining four contenders won't give him too much rope, and if one can find a sparkling turn of foot having stalked the son of Dubawi, the race favourite could be vulnerable.

One rival that will look to unleash a late surge is the 2000 Guineas hero Kameko, who is looking to recapture some of his early season form. A sparkling winner of the Newmarket classic at the start of the season, Kameko then failed to build on that success, first being unable to land a blow in a strangely run Derby, where the Andrew Balding-trained three-year-old seemingly failed to see out the 1m 4f distance.

Dropping back to a mile last time out for the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, Kameko found himself in a dreadful position in the closing stages of the race, as pinned up against the rail, jockey Oisin Murphy was unable to find a clear path to try and challenge the likes of Mohaather and Siskin, who scooted past him around the outside. So, with excuses for his last two outings, Kameko will be hoping to show his best form, and it could be that the ten furlongs of the Juddmonte International could prove ideal for the son of Kitten's Joy.

There should be no such traffic problems for Kameko on Wednesday with only the five runners, so Murphy will be biding his time stalking Ghaiyyath before unloading his superb kick. Being a three-year-old, Kameko will receive a whopping 7 lb from his older rivals, and that could hold huge significance - as it has before with two three-year-olds (Japan 2019, Roaring Lion 2018) winning the last two runnings of the race - and in a race that could well be won by a narrow margin the weight advantage for Kameko could prove the turning point, and the Balding-trained Classic winner can claim the coveted prize.

It was only 11 months ago that Lord North stormed to glory in the 2019 Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket, but now the John Gosden-trained four-year-old is lining up in one of the most coveted Group 1 races on the Flat racing calendar, and the hugely progressive gelding stands a terrific chance. Having excelled in handicap company last season, Lord North has rapidly become a multiple Group-winning performer.  A fine win in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown was followed by a magnificent victory in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot

Like Kameko he is another that possesses a fine turn of foot, but this looks his toughest test to date up against multiple Group 1 winners and a progressive three-year-old, and while he is entitled to take his chance, he may just fall short in his quest to hand Gosden a second win in three years.

Aidan O'Brien saddled Japan to victory 12 months ago and the Ballydoyle handler will look to taste more success on day one of the Ebor Festival with the ultra-consistent mare Magical, who already has a brace of Group 1 wins on her CV this season. Wins in the Pretty Polly Stakes and the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh showed that the fire still burns bright in the five-year-old's belly. Victorious in the Irish Champion Stakes and Champion Stakes on British Champions Day last season, Magical is a dream to own, with her running a fine race in a plethora of top races.

She was second in last season's Yorkshire Oaks behind Enable, so she shows she can act at the track, but she arguably performs to a higher level in softer conditions, so she may want the rain gods to be on her side. It may not necessarily improve her running in rain-softened ground, but it can take that little bit of an edge out of her rivals' turn of foot; thus giving her a greater chance of winning.

Sure to run a solid race, Magical adds huge depth to the race, and she is a solid yard stick at the highest level, but she may just prove vulnerable to a speedier rival on the day, and it's Kameko that can prove to be the greatest on the day, making most of the significant weight pull. Meanwhile, the three-year-old filly Rose Of Kildare was successful when winning the Group 3 Musidora Stakes over course and distance last month, but she would need plenty more for win purposes in this hot race.


Juddmonte International Stakes, York, Wednesday 19th August - back Kameko at 4/1

Juddmonte International Stakes
Kameko silk


York Ebor Festival
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