The Juddmonte International Stakes: Runner-by-runner guide

By Tom Peacock@tompeacock
Tue 21 Aug 2018

British 100m sprinter Reece Prescod has joked in interviews that if he doesn’t manage to become the next Usain Bolt, he’ll probably end up as an estate agent. Safe to say he can continue running for the time being, as his 9.94 seconds at the weekend makes him a realistic candidate for an Olympic medal.

Such diverse career options are not exactly open to members of Wednesday’s Juddmonte International but with racing’s version of the Jamaican athletic sensation, Enable, still on the sidelines, this is the time for them to step up to the starting blocks and avoid being remembered as just another also-ran.

Title-holders from around the world are gathering on the Knavesmire for what is the race of the season so far. Let’s hope we have a winner who sets the gold standard.

1. BENBATL

Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor. General odds: 12-1

Group 1 races won: Dubai Turf, Grosser Dallmayr-Preis

Watch James Willoughby and Nick Lightfoot analyse Benbatl's Dubai Turf success

Asked a lot of last summer, finishing fifth in the Derby and winning at Royal Ascot, and seemed to have improved for his winter break judged by a profitable Dubai Carnival which culminated in a convincing defeat of a clutch of useful Japanese challengers. Couldn’t go the pace in the Queen Anne and very impressive back to this distance in Germany three weeks ago. This is far tougher but the four-year-old is riding on the crest of a wave.

2 POET’S WORD

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute. General odds: 7-4

Group 1 races won: Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes

Our experts put Poet's Word's King George win under the microscope

Getting there as a four-year-old and enjoying a faultless season at five, breaking into the mainstream ahead of Cracksman at Royal Ascot and getting the better of commendable stablemate Crystal Ocean in a thrilling King George. Stoute believes this hardy and versatile character is equally effective at a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half and no reason to doubt the master trainer. Had a hard race last time, but sets the standard

3 THUNDERING BLUE

Trainer: David Menuisier. General odds: 33-1

Group 1 races won: None

Supplemented for £75,000 for the race and no reason not to, given that there is money in the pot from his victory over course and distance in last month’s York Stakes. Although he clearly loves the Knavesmire and gets on well with jockey Fran Berry, the reading of that Group 2 win simply isn’t good enough to win here, so trying to recoup some of that outlay by reaching the frame is probably the most owner Clive Washbourn can hope for.

4 THUNDER SNOW

Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor. General odds: 14-1

Group 1 races won: Criterium International, Prix Jean Prat, Dubai World Cup

How good was Thunder Snow's Dubai World Cup success?

Performances such as Thunder Snow’s in the Dubai World Cup are always treated with caution back in Europe, not least because he dominated from the front in the prime position on the Meydan dirt. Nonetheless, this colt’s efforts in the best mile events at three and in some tough challenges as a juvenile earned him plenty of kudos. On this occasion, given he has not been seen since March and is being campaigned towards the Breeders’ Cup, he is better just watched.

5 LATROBE

Trainer: Joseph O’Brien. General odds: 14-1

Group 1 races won: Irish Derby

A slightly curious inclusion, given that so far his only two wins from five starts have been over a mile and a half and he looked more likely to be heading down the route towards the St Leger or perhaps even the Melbourne Cup. Clearly stays strongly, as advertised by his galloping effort in an Irish Derby which has not worked out well, and his best hopes are probably to be picking up the pieces at the end, provided the race has not passed him by.

6 ROARING LION

Trainer: John Gosden. General odds: 5-2

Group 1 races won: Coral-Eclipse

David Cleary and Richard Hoiles analyse the Coral-Eclipse

Top-class at two and has very much redeemed himself following what must be considered slightly wayward efforts in the Craven Stakes and 2,000 Guineas. Has never looked better than in winning the Dante over course and distance before a fine effort in the Derby for third. Dug deep to repel Saxon Warrior in the Eclipse, copes with all ground, and heads the three-year-old challenge in this fascinating clash of the divisions.

7 SAXON WARRIOR

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. General odds: 9-2

Group 1 races won: Racing Post Trophy, 2000 Guineas

What did our experts make of the 2,000 Guineas?

Had the world at his feet after that memorable reappearance in the Guineas before what was being billed as a legitimate Triple Crown challenge foundered early in the straight in the Derby. Saxon Warrior did little better in the Irish Derby but his effort back over this distance in the Eclipse, only a week later, was much more encouraging. Back from a little break, he could easily improve again, and it could be now or never for Coolmore’s great hope.

8 WITHOUT PAROLE

Trainer: John Gosden. General odds: 12-1

Group 1 races won: St James’s Palace Stakes

Tom Stanley and James Willoughby lok back at Without Parole's Royal Ascot success

A colt who tends to divide opinion among racing fans and it is becoming harder to make a case for him given the uninspiring development of Gustav Klimt, who was half a length behind in the St James’s Palace Stakes. Has never tried a mile and a quarter, or shown that he is at this level on anything but lightning quick ground, and was very moderate in the Sussex Stakes last time. Easily overlooked.

Tom Peacock’s verdict:

Only Cracksman is missing from the logical runners here, plus the healthy bonus of Saeed Bin Suroor pitching in his best two middle-distance horses. In the division which truly matters for stallion-making and international competition, this looks to be the race which matters most.

If you’re a fan of Poet’s Word, and there are plenty around, there’s no reason not to feel confident. He’s the one to beat on the form book and has been meticulously prepared by Sir Michael Stoute. Roaring Lion too, has done little wrong, but the main concern with him is that the older milers held sway in the first significant all-aged meeting in the Sussex Stakes and it might very well be the case here.

The case for Saxon Warrior being on the way back is recognised, but there is still a concern that Aidan O’Brien’s horses are not firing on all cylinders.

With all the aforementioned trio, though, none represent much value in the market for me. I’m most interested in BENBATL at 12-1. He represents the best from Saeed Bin Suroor’s belated re-emergence and there looks to be more to come from a horse who doesn’t have a lot to find in any event.

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