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Juddmonte International preview

Juddmonte International
Group 1, 10.5f, York
by Jon da Silva, @creamontop

This is a level weights race supposedly but weight is the starting point here.

Weight for Age (WFA) will mean Australia gets 8 pounds off the older fellas. However that is less than he would have got last month - WFA will mean that he is expected to keep improving and when RPR has him 2nd top rated that assumes he has made several pounds of improvement since Epsom where his rating comes from. Of course he could have made more or less. There is talk of getting rid of WFA but what do we then do have a separate program for three year olds? Make the Voltigeur a Group 1 and make this race if it happened this year a match between Mukhadram and Telescope? WFA not ideal but neither are the alternatives.

Also listed in weighty matters Joseph O'Brien has to get down to his lowest weight of the year at 8st12. Now that might seem only a pound below his lowest weight this last year but given the height of him at ~6ft it's hard. In addition as anyone who witnessed his brutal stick handling on Magician on Saturday will know he has flown across the pond and back. Tough breed jockeys.

Each of JO'B's big rides tend to end up as a referendum on his ability with no shade of grey tolerated - the most routine win or marginal mistake the difference between ride of the year and worst rider ever. Personally I don't mind him on a horse I back.

One angle I won't explore is what would happen with a late downpour given the top three in the market are all better on top of the ground by most estimations. Indeed not sure who it would favour but a lay of top two on genuinely soft may not be wrong but it would all be guesswork.

The Old Boys

Telescope
Nearly as hyped as Australia before finding his pitch with a demolition of the Hardwicke field. Turned for home swinging in the King George and fought Mukhadram all the way to the wire in what would have been a great contest had Taghrooda not pissed all over both of them. Two best races at Ascot, rest of form not so good.

Mukhadram
A course and distance winner in a Group 2 who broke through at the top level with a win in the Eclipse beating the Derby second and lots of hype. Handled 12 furlongs OK at Ascot and even fought back against Telescope. Given his love of Sandown and his win from fellow long straight horse Grandeur over course and distance plus likely nice trip as pacemaker or stalker in a small field figures to be a key figure here.

The Sophomores

ARod
Named after a game but limited tennis player or a drug-taking cheat of a baseball player or maybe something totally different altogether. Second in the Dante to The Grey Gatsby and eight wickets behind Australia in the Derby.

The Grey Gatsby
Won the course and distance Dante from ARod and True Story meaning we could have yardsticker handicapper's heaven here if we wanted to as True Story was behind Mukhadram in the Eclipse and ARod well beaten by Australia but all confused because the Derby second was just in front of True Story at Sandown and True Story has run like a yak since then. The Grey Gatsby went on to be a facile winner of the French Derby over this distance before flopping in the bottomless in the Grand Prix de Paris. Look through the beaten horses he does not appear quite good enough to me. Hence ditto ARod.

Kingfisher
Grossly flattered in the Irish Derby and his 15L crushing at Epsom surely screams pacemaker here.

The Horse Who Would Be King

Australia
Named after a land down under where women glow and men chunder so will we hear the thunder? On form he is the best middle distance three year old male and in the Guineas showed plenty of pace. There is the famous quote of him pulling four straight 11 second furlongs but quite whether that was 11.0 11.2 11.4 11.5 Aiden O'Brien never said. AOB also has said that a horse who ran a month ago and is trained by one of the greats might not be fit. I'd put the former comment down to a trainer talking up his horse and the latter a trainer getting his excuses in. Against the same two older horses can he match Taghrooda and dismiss the old boys.

Conclusion

On the book one can not definitively say Australia is the best horse in this race coming in with same Official Rating as Telescope and 1 behind on RPR. We can probably all agree if there is a 135+ superstar in this race it is him but ceiling is only a hope until fulfilled. As pointed out his rating has been achieved in 3yo only races and presumes normal improvement. I think he should be fav and we should heed AOB's bullishness but at 4/6 not for me. The Grey Gatsby may be under rated but I just can't make his form add up to Australia's of the three-year-olds but this is his distance clearly.

Which leaves the older horses who we know will likely run to 120+ and are the same horse based on the King George. The long straight, more top class form and maybe a tactical advantage make me favour Mukhadram at the prices. A Mukhadram Grey Gatsby forecast might be worth it too.

Mukhadram 5/1 or better

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