The roll of honour for York’s Juddmonte International contains some of racing’s greatest stars and next week we are in for a real racing treat as the Eclipse first and second Ulysses and Barney Roy go head to head once again. To add a significant amount of spice to proceedings Aidan O’Brien steps the dual 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill to ten furlongs.
Whoever wins they’ll need to put up a great performance if they are to match some of the latter-day winners. In the last ten years the race has been won by three Derby winners, including the superstar Sea The Stars.
Sea The Stars arrived at York having won the Eclipse Stakes, the Derby and the 2,000 Guineas and was a very hot favourite to beat his only real rival, Mastercraftsman, winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas and St. James’s Palace Stakes on his two previous starts. There were two other runners, both of whom were trained by Mastercraftsman’s trainer Aidan O’Brien and were there to make sure the favourite was tested to the limit. In the end, although Mastercraftsman ran well and served it up to John Oxx’s horse, it was Sea The Stars who asserted his class and went on to win by a length.
That race was memorable but who could forget 2012, the year the Knavesmire crowd were treated to the spectacle of Frankel, having his first run over the trip, toying with multiple group one winners Farrh, St. Nicholas Abbey and Twice Over.
Unbeaten in his 12 starts prior to York and despite his prohibitive starting odds there was still a question mark over Frankel’s ability to prove himself as good over ten furlongs as he had shown himself to be over a mile. With St. Nicholas Abbey, at the time a dual Coronation Cup winner (he would later make it a hat-trick of wins in that race), in the line up there would be no hiding place for Sir Henry Cecil’s horse.
In the race Queally rode Frankel with utmost confidence and the result was never really in doubt. He took the lead with over two furlongs to go and drew clear to win unchallenged by seven lengths. It was an astonishing performance and there were gasps from the crowd as the son of Galileo swept to the front as he approached the packed grandstands.
Barney Roy is the favourite amongst the horse racing betting sites and while the fans attending York’s big meeting next week will fondly recall that day, it will be the turn of a new champion to seal his place on the Juddmonte International record books and, with a strong field set to line up, a worthy winner looks assured.