York: Can Paddington Run Continue in the Juddmonte International?

Paddington | Goodwood Racecourse


   When a horse like Paddington (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}) comes along, the challenge is to find a new narrative as big-race win follows big-race win. There is no up-and-down to colour the story, no bouncing back from adversity, no heroic turnaround from setback. It is a clear case of superiority winning out each time, as it feels to watch Man City's relentless march through football's major tournaments on the other side of the Pennines. Sometimes, the truth is the horse does the talking and it is clear that we are dealing with a colt with a metronomic rhythm to his racing which at present shows no sign of being upset.

As far as Wednesday's G1 Juddmonte International is concerned, it is up to a trio with varying credentials in Mostahdaf (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), Nashwa (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and The Foxes (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}) to halt the momentum of Ballydoyle's at once unassuming and impressive colt in this Breeders' Cup qualifier. He needs this win to match the five-in-a-row Group 1 tally of one of the current regime's initial superstars Giant's Causeway, who was beaten in the Irish 2000 Guineas in which Paddington began his sequence. Shape shifting between supreme miler and 10-furlong horse just like the “Iron Horse” before him, he remains in pursuit of the seven consecutive elite-level triumphs of more Rosegreen royalty in Rock Of Gibraltar (Ire).

After mastering the stern uphill climax of the Eclipse and the unorthodox gradients of Goodwood, fast and deep turf, the latest test comes on the Knavesmire's level playing field which catches out only the complacent. What can possibly go wrong? Aidan O'Brien can't pinpoint a weakness. “He's an amazing horse really and all he's done is progress with each race,” he reiterated on Tuesday. “There's nothin much else I can say about him, every time we've asked him a question he keeps coming up with it. The ground is fine and we know he stays the trip. He went to the Coral-Eclipse for his first run over a mile and a quarter, so this is a little bit further on a flatter track.”

This is Frankie's last chance to edge Lester Piggott for the outright record of six wins and it would be a freakish turn of fortune if Jim Crowley's suspension meant that it came on Wednesday on Shadwell's Mostahdaf. One of the least heralded of the big guns that lined up for Royal Ascot's G1 Prince of Wales's S., the Clarehaven slow-burner left nobody in any doubt that he was the only member of that particular cast made for a fast-ground mile-and-a-quarter test as he dished out a humbling beating to Luxembourg (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) and Adayar (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) et al.

The evidence of Riyadh and Royal Ascot suggest Mostahdaf is finally the finished article, but the question is whether that extra strength brought about by maturity is the equivalent of the seven pounds weight-for-age he advances to Paddington. John Gosden is looking forward to finding out now that the cards have fallen right with the wet spell behind us. “There's no change in Plan A, it was always to give him the time,” he said. “He benefited from time between Saudi Arabia and running in Dubai through to June and, again, we've taken a similar spacing with him.”

On Mostahdaf's surge up the Rankings, Shadwell's racing manager Angus Gold admits to having underestimated the 5-year-old as he headed to the Royal meeting. “If I'm honest, I was a bit surprised to see him win [the Prince of Wales's] quite like that, but I probably shouldn't have been after the way he won in Saudi earlier this year. He was very impressive there and really quickened,” he said. “I thought he ran well in the Sheema Classic at Meydan too, where Equinox just killed him off the bend and he didn't get home but I was still surprised to see just how well he was travelling against a proper group one field at Royal Ascot and just how well he quickened.”

Ballydoyle vs The Gosdens is the modern-day customary tale in these kind of events and it is significant that the Newmarket father-and-son axis bolster their challenge with Imad Al Sagar's beloved Nashwa here. Last year's G1 Prix de Diane heroine failed to see out this trip on testing ground on her return mission in Goodwood's G1 Nassau S., but had previously looked to be peaking in the G1 Falmouth S. over a mile and this faster surface is a prerequisite over this distance these days.

Hollie Doyle is keen to put the 4-year-old's latest effort behind her and she could be the fly in the ointment with her invaluable fillies' allowance. “They had an easy time on the front end and Nashwa moved up like the best filly in the race, but she'd possibly been further back than ideal on that ground which probably blunted the turn of foot she showed in the Falmouth,” she said. “She takes her races very well and I'm hearing good reports from home through Teddy Grimthorpe.”

Already a winner over this course and distance in the G2 Dante S., King Power Racing's The Foxes (Ire) has to do much better than a subsequent fifth in the Derby and second in the GI Belmont Derby Invitational. “The others may be proven at a higher level, but I do feel The Foxes is an improving horse and we haven't seen the best of him yet,” racing manager Alastair Donald explained. “It looks like he'll get his preferred conditions of fast ground and we know he likes the course and distance. It might end up being a trappy race and, you never know, it's worth being there.”


Gregory The Key Player In The Great Voltigeur…

With Mostahdaf facing such a stern challenge on Wednesday, Frankie might give the York faithful the flying dismount they crave after the preceding G2 Great Voltigeur S. where Wathnan Racing's unbeaten  Gregory (GB) (Golden Horn {GB}) looks a solid proposition. Despite carrying a three-pound penalty for his G2 Queen's Vase exploits over two furlongs further than this mile-and-a-half contest, he looks a genuine stayer with speed. Ballydoyle's representative Continuous (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) had the pace to be third to The Foxes in the Dante and to get closest to one of his generation's bigwigs King Of Steel (Wootton Bassett {GB}) in a slowly-run G2 King Edward VII S., so if Gregory can usurp him and Godolphin's G3 Bahrain Trophy winner Castle Way (GB) (Almanzor {Fr}) with the odds slightly against him the St Leger will loom even larger on his horizon.


Big Moment For Keatley In The Acomb…

Adrian Keatley has been slowly making a name for himself from his British base and in another Wathnan Racing acquisition in Ballymount Boy (Ire) (Camacho {GB}) he has the right material to make waves in the always-important G3 Tattersalls Acomb S. Looking in need of this extra furlong when a length second to the subsequent G1 Prix Morny hero Vandeek (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}) in the G2 Richmond S. over six at Goodwood earlier this month, he sets the standard and it is just a case of whether he can contain the flow of unexposed types.

“We thought a lot of our horse going to Goodwood, so we weren't by any means surprised by his run and we appreciate that the winner now looks very good as well–it's all stacking up,” his trainer said. “He went from a four-runner novice race at Hamilton into a group two and it was a massive step, a massive ask, and he answered all the questions bar one. We think he could be a top-class seven furlong horse or miler for the future.”

With two Guineas winners in Phoenix Of Spain (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) and Chaldean (GB) (Frankel {GB}) winning this in the last five years, it pays to watch the untested colts closely and Cogitate (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}) is one of the more intriguing. Trainer Charlie Hills said of the Newbury novice scorer, “His work has been good and we think he could be a nice horse for the future. He travelled very well [at Newbury], he's got a good attitude and a good temperament–I was really taken by his first run. He's a big, scopey horse and he should be a nice horse for next year as well.”

Also in the mix is Ballydoyle's Naas maiden winner Edwardian (No Nay Never), the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained Ascot maiden scorer Indian Run (Ire) (Sioux Nation) and the course-and-distance winner Loose Cannon (Ire) (Territories {Ire}) from the William Haggas stable.


Classic Rematch In Yorkshire Oaks…

Thursday's G1 Pertemps Network Yorkshire Oaks will see the G1 Irish Oaks one-two Savethelastdance  (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and Bluestocking (GB) (Camelot {GB}) square up again after a field of 10 was confirmed on Tuesday. Shadwell's G1 Nassau S. heroine Al Husn (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) is the key member of the older brigade, while in the supporting card's six-furlong G2 Lowther S. the G2 Queen Mary S. runner-up and Weatherbys Super Sprint winner Relief Rally (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) encounters eight rivals including Ballydoyle's impressive Curragh maiden winner Cherry Blossom (Ire) (No Nay Never).


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