Mishriff embellishes glittering CV with emphatic York display

John Gosden hailed Mishriff’s versatility as the four-year-old provided him with a second Juddmonte International in four years on the Knavesmire.

In arguably the premier 10-furlong contest in Europe, Gosden’s Roaring Lion announced himself as the pre-eminent colt around at York when following up his 2018 Eclipse win, before cementing his status in the Irish Champion and then successfully reverting to a mile in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Ascot’s British Champions Day.

Mishriff did not have as much to prove. But there was one glaring omission on his CV – and that was a Group One on home soil.

Having won the French Derby last year, he had a Classic in the bag – and he then beat the best America had to offer in the Saudi Cup on dirt in February, adding to his overseas record by winning the Sheema Classic in Dubai.

The one box he had left to tick was a showpiece race in England, and defeats in the Eclipse and King George had the naysayers wagging fingers.

While ante-post favourite St Mark’s Basilica was missing, Aidan O’Brien could still field Love; there was Andrew Balding’s multiple Group One winner Alcohol Free stepping up in trip, and William Haggas had two live players in Mohaafeth and Alenquer – but none had an answer to the six-length winner.

“I’m delighted. It’s strange that because of lockdown last year he had this truncated season,” said joint trainer Gosden.

“He won at Newmarket in June, won the French Derby, won at Deauville and then got stuck in a bog at Ascot.

Mishriff and David Egan were impressive winners of the Juddmonte International Stakes at York
Mishriff and David Egan were impressive winners of the Juddmonte International Stakes at York (Nigel French/PA)

“So then we had a holiday and went back to a winter campaign, which was absolutely brilliant – winning in Saudi, where he beat the American dirt horses, and then the Sheema Classic, beating the Japanese mares in Dubai.

“He then had another break before we went for the Eclipse – and while he wasn’t short of work, he was just a bit fresh and heavy, which meant he blew up with a furlong to go, having cruised into contention.

“He ran a blinder last time in the King George. But the mile and a half of Ascot was too great a demand on his stamina up that hill – and it was a very good race. The Derby winner was getting 11lb.

“But he’s come here today, over a mile and a quarter on good ground – that’s his game. He’s versatile, but this is probably his best distance – and arguably perfect ground on the Knavesmire is right up his street.”

All the top races over 10 furlongs and a mile and a half worldwide are in the mix for Mishriff – but not the Irish Champion Stakes, which Gosden feels would hamper his preparation for autumn targets.

“I want to give him another break now, because there are races deep into the autumn if he’s in good order – namely the Arc or the Champion Stakes – ground dependent as I wouldn’t run him if it was deep,” said Gosden.

“Then you have Del Mar (Breeders’ Cup) over a mile and a half (Turf) and then there’s the Japan Cup – so we’ll be looking in those directions. I don’t want to just keep going; I want to freshen him up.

“The problem with the (Breeders’ Cup) Classic this year at Del Mar is the short straight. I know Del Mar well – it’s virtually the shortest straight in America for a Grade One track.

“If you notice with his racing style he kills them in a long straight – it was the stretch that won it for him in Saudi. He’d like a Belmont stretch, not a Del Mar stretch!”

David Egan gets his hands on the Juddmonte International trophy
David Egan gets his hands on the Juddmonte International trophy (Nigel French/PA)

For David Egan, who briefly lost the ride on Mishriff to Frankie Dettori despite being retained by owner Prince Faisal, this is the highlight of a career admittedly still in its early throes.

“To do what he has done is phenomenal. He’s a horse to be reckoned with now,” said Egan.

“This horse means everything to me. He’s going to make my career, hopefully.

“I’m just so thrilled for the horse to be able to do it on UK soil. He’s proved he can do it elsewhere. Some people had doubts he could do it here. I’ve won the lottery, literally.

“This is my best day at the race track. The money doesn’t matter – it’s all about the horse. Hopefully, there’s more to come.”

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