The Juddmonte International was supposed to be the big match-up of York’s Ebor Festival, pitting the Derby winner against the Guineas victor, but instead we got a shock to end all shocks.
When Gleneagles was ruled out of the contest on behalf of the ground, many expected Epsom hero Golden Horn to romp home, demonstrated by his restrictive odds of 4/9.
But on ground later deemed to be unsuitable, the previously unbeaten colt couldn’t match the heart and true grit shown by 50/1 outside Arabian Queen.
The winning mare looks set for more outings at the highest level, but for John Gosden’s bay it’s all about salvaging his reputation.
In attempting to do that, the public could finally be treated to a match-up with the winner of the first Classic of the season at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Stakes.
At a distance of 1m2f, it’s a case of Gleneagles needing to prove, not only that he stays, but that he can be better over the trip than he is over a mile.
Then there’s the ground. While you’d expect the conditions for a race held this year on September 12 to be soggy underfoot, the last race not run on ‘good’ ground or better was back in 2009.
If there is minimal cut in the ground and both principles take their charge, a cracking race is set to ensue.
Golden Horn is marked up at 2/1 favourite with Gleneagles out at 11/4 in the betting.
An added ingredient into the mix is Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Free Eagle, who despite the fact that he would have to give the three-year-old pair 7lb is as short as 9/4 in the betting.
The clash between the pair on the outskirts of Dublin could be the last time racing fans get to see either of the Classic generation in the UK or Ireland.
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is on the cards for Golden Horn, for which he is a 10/1 shot following defeat on the Knavesmire.
While it looks to be the plan, one would have to question his chances in a race that invariably sees the ground come up soft, over a trip that connections showed some concerns about prior to the Derby.
Nevertheless, one defeat shouldn’t mean that the son of Cape Cross is a bad horse, but he certainly has questions to answer.
Meanwhile Gleneagles could be jetting off to the States after the Irish Champion Stakes, where he is likely to find conditions right up his street.
The ground was good-to-soft at York, so expect Aidan O’Brien’s colt to want it rattling fast at Keeneland for the Breeders Cup Mile.
He is likely to get that in Kentucky, and must pose as a real danger to the rest of the travelling contingent.
First though, all eyes are on Leopardstown where a clash of the Classic winners has racing fans licking their lips.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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