2019 Juddmonte International Stakes Odds and Betting Preview
Top class Group racing action returns to York from Wednesday with the four day Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor festival.
The Juddmonte International – due off at 15:35 BST, is not just one of the highlights of the Ebor festival but one of the top races of the season. The ten furlongs’ contest has been won by the likes of Frankel, Sea The Stars and Australia in recent years, and has attracted another quality field including the world’s top-rated horse, Crystal Ocean.
The event was devised by Major Leslie Petch, and it was first run back in 1972. The race was originally sponsored by Benson and Hedges and called the ‘Benson and Hedges Gold Cup’. The inaugural running was won by Roberto, who claimed The Derby of that year. The second-placed horse – Brigadier Gerard, suffered his only defeat in a career of eighteen races.
The sponsorship of Benson and Hedges continued until 1985, and for the following two years the event was backed by the bloodstock company Matchmaker. Its title during this period was the Matchmaker International. The present sponsor, Juddmonte Farms, started supporting the race in 1989. It is now familiarly known as the Juddmonte International.
The International Stakes is held on the opening day of York’s four day Ebor Festival meeting, and It is the venue’s richest race of the season.
Leading trainer, Sir Michael Stoute has the opportunity to win his seventh renewal of this race after six previous wins dating back to Shadari in 1986. Ezzoud (1993 & 1994), Singspiel (1997), Notnowcato (2006), Ulysses (2017) were the other successes.
In jockey terms, superstar pilot, Frankie Dettori leads the way with five previous wins of the Juddmonte International, with his first success on Halliing, all the way back in 1996. It is twelve years since Dettori led any horse to victory in this race however, with previous successes on Singspiel (1997), Sakhee (2001), Sulamani (2004) and Authorized (2007).
With Stoute being the handler of current market leader, Crystal Ocean and Dettori taking the mount on King Of Comedy, it is likely that one of the two will accentuate their respective leads in their particular category. But which one? Or will another horse spring a surprise? Read on for our thoughts on this highly competitive race.
Crystal Ocean is the highest rated horse in the world and again showed he’s right out of the top-drawer last time when just finding the superstar filly, Enable too strong in the King George.
He’d coped fine with this 10f trip at Royal Ascot when seeing off a strong field in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and is the one to beat on both form and ratings. At the current odds of 11/10, he is not a get rich quick scheme, but the five-year old son of Sea The Stars is the most likely winner of the race.
Two facile Group 3 wins earlier this season at Sandown and Newbury preceded the Group 1 Royal Ascot success in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, and even in defeat to Enable on returning to Ascot over twelve furlongs, it was arguably a better performance overall.
King To Make a Comedy of the Rest?
Leading trainer, John Gosden has a plethora of top-class middle-distance horses within his stable, and it is his emerging talent that is King Of Comedy, who has the chance to elevate himself into the very top bracket with a victory here.
With the urgings of Frankie Dettori in the saddle, King Of Comedy is likely to prove very popular with punters – on course and in the betting shops – and can be backed at the best industry price at the time of writing of 7/2 with various firms.
The step up to ten furlongs in this race will be the key. Previously campaigned at one mile, it is expected that King Of Comedy will show significant improvement for the upping in distance, but taking on Crystal Ocean is a very stiff task, even in receipt of seven pounds with his three-year old allowance. Any big race with the partnership of Gosden and Dettori must be hugely respected though and King Of Comedy is likely to be right up there at the business end of the race.
Double-Handed Irish Bid
Aidan O’Brien once again sends over some of his finest horses within his Ballydoyle empire in an attempt to claim glory in the Juddmonte International with Japan and Circus Maximus.
According to the bookmakers, Japan has the best claims on victory and also has stable jockey, Ryan Moore on board. Japan is a widely available 5/1 chance, and already has two wins at Group level at Royal Ascot and Longchamp so far in 2019. Japan is dropping back to ten furlongs for this race, from the twelve furlongs that the son of Galileo has previously been campaigned at. If that shows no significant hinderance, then Japan could well be a big player in the race with the benefit of his weight-for-age concession.
Circus Maximus, will be ridden by the son of Aidan, Donnacha O’Brien, and it is by no means a back number. It is a little difficult to assess the form of the three-year old, following several changes in trip during his short career. A winner of the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot over eight furlongs – with King Of Comedy and Too Darn Hot in his wake – was his best performance this season, but Circus Maximus has winning form over ten furlongs also by claiming the Dee Stakes at Chester earlier this season. At the current odds of 9/1 with the likes of 888Sport and Betfred, Circus Maximus looks to be decent value to make the frame in this race.
Others To Consider
In all fairness, the drop-off in talent for this race is significant after mentioning the first four in the betting. Mark Johnston’s Elarquam has made big strides this season with two wins at Listed level and an excellent performance last time out at York to win the Group 2 York Stakes with a commanding performance. Elarquam is a widely available 10/1 chance, but he has plenty to find at this level.
Japanese raider, Cheval Grand makes the trip for this race and even though the seven-year-old is a high-class performer in his own country, he has plenty to find against some of the leading lights of this race, and he is a 33/1 chance with Coral.
A fascinating renewal of the race. Crystal Ocean is the obvious starting point. He has the best form of all of the runners and is my pick of the winner of the race at – albeit – short odds. There are doubts among other leading contenders, including King Of Comedy, who has not shown anything over the distance, or even form at other trips to suggest that he will truly give Sir Michael Stoute’s horse a stiff test.
For each-way purposes, the horse that takes my eye is Circus Maximus, who has solid form this season as a three-year old. The Royal Ascot win, which had King Of Comedy behind and having plenty of experience over longer distances is a significant plus.
- Crystal Ocean to Win the Juddmonte International at 11/10 with William Hill.
- Circus Maximus (each-way) at 9/1 with Betfred.