BIG RACE PREVIEW: The feature race on Day One of the Ebor Festival at York pits Mishriff against Love in the Juddmonte International Stakes.
Although the withdrawal of likely favourite St Mark’s Basilica has taken a little gloss off the Juddmonte International Stakes, it is still a top class and fascinating renewal. The place to start is last month’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot where Mishriff and Love chased home the impressive Epsom Derby winner Adayar. The race was obviously high class and the clock backed this up as they ran the 12 furlongs in 2m 26.54s, a time that was 2.56s below standard. This revealed that Mishriff had earned a speed rating of 82 versus a figure of 81 for Love and this was particularly significant in the case of Mishriff. The time before he had contested the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown where he finished a 3¾ length third of four behind St Mark’s Basilica. The time of this race was slow and Mishriff clocked a speed figure of just 65. This backed up his trainer’s assertion that he was short of peak fitness at Sandown and he was a different horse at Ascot and probably a much fitter one to boot. He should be spot on here too and stepping back to 10 furlongs also looks to be a plus. He is the one to beat.
Love is an obvious danger and she has 1¾ lengths to find with Mishriff based on their King George run. Mishriff looked to get first run on Love at Ascot and Ryan Moore wasn’t too hard on her once her winning chance had gone. However there is no obvious reason why she should turn around the form and again it may come down to the run of the race. Good ground is key to her and if she gets it she will be right in the mix.
The three-year-old generation is well represented and Alcohol Free is a fascinating runner. The big question surrounding her is will she stay the trip? It will be a big ask and particularly so if they get racing early down the long straight on the Knavesmire. There is also a feeling that she is much better in softer ground. However she is a dual Group 1 winner over a mile this season and she is thriving too. Therefore she has to be respected. On the contrary, Mohaafeth needs good ground. He was impressive at Royal Ascot when winning the Hampton Court Stakes and connections feel they got it wrong tactically when he was beaten over the course and distance in the Sky Bet York Stakes last time. He is a player but is he good enough? Alanquer is interesting and any rain ahead of the race will improve his chances whilst Mac Swiney is an Irish 2000 Guineas winner who merits respect. Juan Elcano is the big outsider however he clocked a serious time when winning the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot (speed rating of 86) and he went down by just a head (Mohaafeth behind) here last time. He could easily outrun his odds and if there were 8 runners in here then he may have been an each-way play.
And so in a top class renewal Mishriff is the suggestion. He should now be at his peak and with trip, track and ground all expected to suit, he is forecast to run a huge race.
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