With recent winners of the Juddmonte International including the likes of Authorized, Sea the Stars and Frankel, the six that go to post at York on Wednesday have some large hoof-prints to follow. Luckily, with the confirmation that Sussex Stakes victor Toronado will line-up to take on the in-form five-year-old Al Kazeem, racing fans are in for a treat on the Knavesmire.
Unbeaten this season, including three back-to-back Group 1 wins, Al Kazeem has been somewhat of a revelation for Roger Charlton and probably deserves his position as even-money favourite to triumph, and take his career winnings over the £1m mark.
However, priced at 2/1, it is Richard Hannon’s Toronado that looks the value to cause a small upset.
Unbeaten as a two-year-old, Sheikh Joaan’s colt disappointed in the 2000 Guineas, when reportedly not right. A short-head defeat to Dawn Approach in the St James’s Palace Stakes showed that he was on the way back to his best. But it was an impressive win at Glorious Goodwood that brings him into considerations for this 1m2f contest.
Connections had been in two minds as to whether to run here, but it was regular jockey Richard Hughes that convinced his boss a step up in trip would be beneficial. Indeed, Toronado had been widely thought of as a Derby horse last year, so there is reason to believe his stamina should last out an extra two furlongs.
And with champion jockey Hughes describing the colt as the “best horse he has ever ridden, even better than Canford Cliffs”, there can be no questioning how good connections feel this horse is.
The drying ground will certainly be of benefit, with an explosive turn of foot that was present on the Sussex Downs likely to be the biggest threat to Al Kazeem.
The market leader has been a model of consistency this season, seemingly claiming the middle distance discipline as his own, but with the Hannon and Hughes steamroller heading northwards, Toronado could well be the new pretender to the throne.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing