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Mishriff dazzles with impressive International verdict

Mishriff landed his first domestic Group One triumph with a brilliant performance in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York.

Winner of over £10.5million in prize money, mainly due to his wins in the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic, the John and Thady Gosden-trained four-year-old added another £567,000 to the kitty with a blistering six-length success in the extended 10-furlong showpiece.

Mishriff left the opposition standing in the closing stages under a confident ride by David Egan to execute a long-term plan by connections.

Alenquer was smartly away but Mac Swiney took up the running once the field settled down with Love third and Mishriff just behind.

There was little change in the order until the long straight where Mishriff (9-4 favourite) cruised into contention.

Once let down by Egan, the Prince Faisal-owned colt drew away, scoring impressively from Alenquer. Love was half a length adrift in third.

Mishriff had previously finished third in the Eclipse at Sandown and second in the King George at Ascot, but John Gosden felt the colt had his optimum conditions on the Knavesmire.

Mishriff comes home well clear at York
Mishriff comes home well clear at York (Nigel French/PA)

He said: “His first run back, he’d been freshened since his winter campaign and he was a little full of himself and got tired, blew up if you like, in the last furlong. He ran a great race in the King George, probably stretching his stamina in that race, but it was a lovely race.

“This is his ground, good ground, and I think a mile and a quarter is perfect for him.

“He’s had this strange year where he raced in a truncated season last year, then he raced in the winter and we gave him a holiday, now he’s run in the middle of summer.

“If I’m going to go deep into the autumn, I’ve got to take a pull with him, freshen him again through September, then you could look at either the Arc or the Champion Stakes and then you have races like the Breeders’ Cup and the Japan Cup.

“He’s having to run in sort of segments with holidays in between.”

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is contested over 12 furlongs, like the King George, but Gosden thinks the ParisLongchamp track presents less of a stamina test.

He said: “It’s an easier mile and a half than Ascot. The stiff uphill from Swinley Bottom caught him out stamina-wise, but I don’t want to see him running in deep, heavy ground.

“I think he’s right up there (with the best I’ve trained). To win over a mile and a furlong on the dirt (in the Saudi Cup) and beat the Americans and then come here and do this, he’s a super horse.

“He won a Sheema Classic against a Japanese champion, he’s phenomenal. He’s versatile, but this is probably his best distance and arguably perfect ground on the Knavesmire, right up his street.”

David Egan with the trophy at York
David Egan with the trophy at York (Nigel French/PA)

Egan said: “I had it in the back of my mind how well he stays a mile and a quarter on a flat track. Getting him in a nice rhythm and relaxed was the key today.

“He did everything perfectly. We were in the exact spot – it couldn’t have gone better. I wasn’t sure how far clear I was at the line. He’s a true champion and he’s only getting better this season.

“I was going so comfortably three out. I had it in my mind I didn’t want to quicken too far out, but he was going so easy he took me to the front.

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

“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.”

Alenquer was a distant second
Alenquer was a distant second (Nigel French//PA)

William Haggas was pleased with Alenquer’s effort, but expects his charge to move back up in distance now.

He said: “Alenquer ran a very good race. He stayed on and wants further, but you can’t criticise a run like that in a Group One race.

“He’s a very nice, straightforward three-year-old who should develop into a very nice, straightforward four-year-old I hope.

“I suspect we’ll go back up to a mile and a half, but we’ll talk to the owner and see where we go.

“I don’t know, but I suspect the Arc will be well in the mix.”

Mohaafeth is likely to drop back to a mile now
Mohaafeth is likely to drop back to a mile now (David Davies/PA)

Of fourth-placed Mohaafeth, the trainer added: “I was pleased with him, too. To me, it looked like he didn’t get home.

“It looked like he was going to be second and was weak in the last furlong, so I definitely think we ought to explore dropping him back to a mile. We’ll see.

“I’ve no doubt Mishriff will go for the Champion Stakes, and we’ve got Addeybb who will be on the battlefield for that if the ground is soft.”

Smith gambles on Alcohol Free’s stamina for International assignment

Owner Jeff Smith feels he has “nothing to lose” by allowing his star filly Alcohol Free to line up for the Juddmonte International at York.

A daughter of American sprinter No Nay Never, Andrew Balding’s charge will take a step into the unknown on the Knavesmire as she tries a mile and a quarter for the first time.

There were doubts about whether the Cheveley Park Stakes winner’s stamina would even last out over a mile earlier in the year – but those have been extinguished by further top-level wins in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Never one to shirk a challenge, Smith is ready to roll the dice over another two furlongs in Wednesday’s Group One feature – a race he won with 50-1 shot Arabian Queen in 2015. His brilliant colt Chief Singer was third in the 1984 renewal.

“The favourite (St Mark’s Basilica) is out, but it’s still a top-class, Group One race,” said Smith.

“The Juddmonte International is a championship race, so what else would you expect?

“I haven’t seen the filly for a few days, but I’m told she’s absolutely thriving and full of health.”

Although Alcohol Free’s two victories this season have come on easy surface, Smith is unfazed about the prospect of faster conditions at York and admits only time will tell whether the mile and a quarter is within her compass.

He added: “We’re not fussed about the ground – she’ll go on anything.

Owner Jeff Smith (left) after the victory of Alcohol Free at Royal Ascot
Owner Jeff Smith (left) after the victory of Alcohol Free at Royal Ascot (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“We have nothing to lose. Either she stays or she doesn’t stay. I’m really relaxed, or as relaxed as one can ever be before a big race.

“There’s no disgrace if she doesn’t stay. If she doesn’t, we’ve simply got the best miler – well, thank you very much!

“She’s got three Group Ones in the bag and proper Group Ones as well.

“It’s going to be interesting.”

The top two in the market are a pair of proven stayers in Mishriff and Love, who renew rivalry after finishing second and third respectively in the King George at Ascot.

John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff has already enjoyed a hugely-lucrative campaign, having won both the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic earlier in the year before being placed in the Eclipse and the King George.

Gosden senior said: “I was very happy with his King George run. Obviously, what he achieved earlier in the year was considerable, to say the least.

“We’ve very much been targeting the Juddmonte. The slightly extended mile and a quarter, we feel that’s his best trip.

“We’ve been happy with him since the King George. The race has changed a little bit in complexion, but we’re pleased to be going where we planned for a long time.”

Aidan O’Brien had to rule out hot favourite St Mark’s Basilica on Monday morning, but has an able super-sub in the brilliant filly Love.

Love winning last year's Yorkshire Oaks
Love winning last year’s Yorkshire Oaks (David Davies/PA)

The daughter of Galileo won the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks last season and O’Brien feels she is better than she showed at Ascot three and a half weeks ago.

“The King George was a little bit of a mess really. We kind of thought it would be an evenly-run race and it probably wasn’t,” the trainer told Racing TV.

“Ryan (Moore) followed them into the straight and just as he was ready to come out, David (Egan, on Mishriff) came up and cut the head off him. That was more rhythm broken and he just had to wait then.

“She ran on very well and Ryan was very happy with the run. We saw all the things that went wrong for her.

“She came out of the race well and in good form. It will be interesting when she meets the three-year-olds again in a solid run race and see what will happen – she will definitely improve.”

Love is one of two Irish challengers along with the Jim Bolger-trained Mac Swiney.

Since narrowly beating esteemed stablemate Poetic Flare to Classic glory in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the son of New Approach has finished fourth in the Derby at Epsom and sixth in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.

Bolger said: “I won’t be underestimating him, anyway. He’s a very good ‘doer’, so he doesn’t get a lot of time out. In any case, he’s very well, so I’m happy with him.

“We’re hopeful that going back to a mile and a quarter will bring out the best in him.

“As usual, it’s a hot race. York has been a lucky track for me and I’m hoping that the luck will stay with us.”

Mohaafeth winning the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot
Mohaafeth winning the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

William Haggas saddles two Royal Ascot winners in Mohaafeth and Alenquer. Mohaafeth lost his unbeaten record for the season when third in the York Stakes on his latest outing, while Alenquer was last seen occupying the same finishing position in the Grand Prix de Paris.

Reflecting on Mohaafeth’s last visit to York, Haggas said: “It was a balls up, from start to finish.

“The pacemaker went too slow and Jim (Crowley) was too far back. It was a mess, and you can put a line through it.

“Angus (Gold, of owners Shadwell) felt that if you ignore that run and concentrated on the good bits, he was well worth a chance here.

“The trip is fine and the ground should be OK, too. He’s got a bit to find, but he’s useful.”

Alenquer after winning the King Edward VII Stakes
Alenquer after winning the King Edward VII Stakes (Steven Paston/PA)

Alenquer was priced up as ante-post favourite for the Great Voltigeur Stakes, but connections have opted to instead bid for top-level honours in the Juddmonte.

“The owners felt that as he had already won a Group Two there was no point running in another one. They want to test him against the best, and he’s very well,” Haggas added, ahead of another leg in the Qipco British Champions Series.

“He’s improving, and again you can put a line through his latest run at Longchamp as he was way too far back and never got into it at all.

“I don’t think he’s the soft or heavy ground horse that some have him down as, but he might just want a bit further. He’s not a bad horse.

“It’s an ambitious route for both horses, but they’ll both run a good race. Whether they are good enough is another matter.”

Egan respectful of International task for Mishriff despite Basilica absence

David Egan is taking nothing for granted ahead of Mishriff’s bid for further big-race honours in the Juddmonte International, despite the withdrawal of his chief rival St Mark’s Basilica.

Having completed a huge global double with victories in the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic earlier in the year, Mishriff returned from a break to finish third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in early July.

A mouthwatering rematch was scheduled to take place in the another Qipco British Champions Series contest at York on Wednesday, but Aidan O’Brien announced on Monday morning that St Mark’s Basilica would miss out after suffering a minor setback.

Reacting to the news on a press call, Egan said: “St Mark’s Basilica has been outstanding this season. It’s unfortunate what’s happened – nobody wants that. We want the best horses going for these big races.

“One horse isn’t going to make a horse race. Even without St Mark’s Basilica, it’s still a very strong field and we have a lot of good opposition to take on.”

In St Mark’s Basilica’s absence, O’Brien will rely on Love in the feature event on the opening day of York’s Ebor Festival.

Mishriff had the dual Classic-winning filly almost two lengths behind him when the pair finished second and third respectively in the King George at Ascot three and half weeks ago, but Egan still has huge respect for last year’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks heroine.

Love winning last year's Yorkshire Oaks
Love winning last year’s Yorkshire Oaks (David Davies/PA)

“Love is a very special filly. Although she did finish third last time, her previous form is not to be overlooked,” Egan continued.

“She was an unbelievable filly at three and looked like a real superstar and I still think she is.

“She was a great winner at Royal Ascot. She possibly underperformed in the King George and we have to give a weight allowance to a filly that’s very, very good, which is not going to be easy.

“We saw with Enable how strong these top-class fillies can be against the colts.

“Love is definitely going to bounce back and give us a good race.”

Further strength in depth is added by a clutch of quality three-year-olds, with Egan particularly interested to see how Andrew Balding’s Coronation Stakes and Sussex Stakes winner Alcohol Free fares on her first start over a mile and a quarter.

He said: “I think the most exciting horse to look at from a spectator’s point of view would be Alcohol Free. She’s stepping up to see if she does stay the trip.

“There were a lot of questions about whether she’d stay the mile, but she went to Royal Ascot and proved she did. The camp there are taking a gamble to see if she stays another two furlongs. It will be exciting to see if she does.”

While wary of the threat posed by several of his rivals, the talented rider has plenty of confidence that Mishriff can provide him with a first Group One success in Europe.

“Everything has gone smoothly – his preparation has been good,” he added.

“I was really pleased with how he progressed from the Eclipse to the King George. I thought the King George run was a fantastic run, finishing behind an absolute monster in Adayar, giving him so much weight.

“We don’t need to give the three-year-olds as much weight in the Juddmonte and I think dropping my lad back to a mile and a quarter will only play to his strengths.

“If Mishriff can improve as much as he did from the Eclipse to the King George, he’s going to be hard to beat.”

O’Brien eyeing Irish Champion date after setback rules St Mark’s Basilica out of York

Aidan O’Brien is hopeful St Mark’s Basilica will return to action in time to run in next month’s Irish Champion Stakes after being forced to rule him out of Wednesday’s Juddmonte International at York.

The Siyouni colt has carried all before him in three previous starts this season, completing a Classic double with victories in the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby before producing a brilliant display in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last month.

St Mark’s Basilica was odds-on across the board to continue his winning streak on the opening afternoon of York’s Ebor Festival, but will not make the trip across the Irish Sea after suffering a setback.

O’Brien told the PA news agency: “Yesterday (Sunday) morning he lost a front shoe and it came back and hit his hind leg – his near-hind joint.

“We didn’t think a lot of it, but this morning there was a little bit of swelling in it – and when we took bloods off him, his bloods came back and it was a little bit infected.

“We were a bit taken aback when we saw it this morning, but when we did the bloods then we didn’t have any choice as he needs to go on antibiotics and the antibiotics that he’s going to go on obviously he couldn’t run on.

“Hopefully we’ll be back on target towards the end of this week and if we are, we’ll be able to train him for the Irish Champion.”

Love will now run in the Juddmonte International
Love will now run in the Juddmonte International (David Davies/PA)

In St Mark’s Basilica’s absence, O’Brien will instead rely on dual Classic-winning filly Love in the Juddmonte International.

The Ballydoyle handler had planned on sending the daughter of Galileo to France this weekend for the Prix Jean Romanet, but she will now bid to play the role of super-sub on the Knavesmire.

“It’s four or five days earlier than we’d planned for her – the plan was to go for the Romanet on Sunday,” O’Brien added.

“When St Mark’s came out, we decided we’d let her run here instead.”

Love made a successful start to the campaign in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, but suffered her first defeat since the autumn of 2019 when only third in the King George at Ascot on her latest appearance.

The daughter of Galileo will renew rivalry with John and Thady Gosden’s King George runner-up Mishriff, who had previously finished third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Eclipse.

Andrew Balding runs stable star Alcohol Free, while William Haggas saddles both Mohaafeth and Alenquer.

Alcohol Free tests the water over a mile and a quarter for the first time after enjoying two Group One wins over a mile in the the Coronation Stakes and the Sussex Stakes.

Mohaafeth was beaten for the first time this season when third in the York Stakes over the course and distance last month, while Alenquer drops back in distance after placing third in the Grand Prix de Paris over a mile and a half.

The field is completed by Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano and the Jim Bolger-trained Mac Swiney, winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Love takes International test as St Mark’s Basilica misses out

Aidan O’Brien will rely on Love in the Juddmonte International at York on Wednesday after being forced to rule out hot favourite St Mark’s Basilica due to a reported injury.

St Mark’s Basilica has carried all before him in three previous starts this season, completing a Classic double with victories in the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby before producing a brilliant display in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last month.

The Siyouni colt was odds-on across the board to continue his winning streak on the opening afternoon of York’s Ebor Festival, but will not make the trip across the Irish Sea.

St Mark’s Basilica misses out at York
St Mark’s Basilica misses out at York (Nigel French/PA)

O’Brien had planned on sending dual Classic-winning filly Love to France this weekend for the Prix Jean Romanet, but she will now bid to play the role of super-sub on the Knavesmire.

The four-year-old made a successful start to the campaign in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, but suffered her first defeat since the autumn of 2019 when only third in the King George at Ascot on her latest appearance.

The daughter of Galileo will renew rivalry with John and Thady Gosden’s King George runner-up Mishriff, who had previously finished third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Eclipse.

Andrew Balding runs stable star Alcohol Free, while William Haggas saddles both Mohaafeth and Alenquer.

Alcohol Free tests the water over a mile and a quarter for the first time after enjoying two Group One wins over a mile in the the Coronation Stakes and the Sussex Stakes.

Mohaafeth was beaten for the first time this season when third in the York Stakes over the course and distance last month, while Alenquer drops back in distance after placing third in the Grand Prix de Paris over a mile and a half.

The field is completed by Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano and the Jim Bolger-trained Mac Swiney, winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Alcohol Free confirmed an intended runner in Juddmonte International

Andrew Balding has confirmed that Alcohol Free will take her chance in Wednesday’s fascinating Juddmonte International at York.

With the leading three-year-old over 10 furlongs in St Mark’s Basilica lining up, as well as one of the best older horses in training in Mishriff, now one of the best fillies in training has been confirmed an intended starter on the Knavesmire.

A Group One winner at two, she has won the Coronation Stakes and the Sussex Stakes – against the boys – this season, beating 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero Poetic Flare at Goodwood.

The race holds dear memories for owner Jeff Smith, whose Arabian Queen caused a 50-1 shock in 2015 when beating Golden Horn.

“We’ve just made the decision she probably will run,” Balding told ITV Racing.

“Jeff is never one to shy away from a challenge and the filly is in great form which is the most important thing.

“She’s thriving at the moment, so why not? If she doesn’t stay, she doesn’t stay.”

St Mark’s Basilica on course for International mission

St Mark’s Basilica is among nine high-class confirmations for the Juddmonte International at York on Wednesday.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt has carried all before him so far this season, bagging back-to-back Classic wins in France with victories in the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby before dominating his rivals in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last month.

O’Brien, who has won the International on six occasions, has also left in top-class fillies Love and Joan Of Arc.

Love suffered her first defeat since 2019 when third in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on her latest appearance, while French Oaks heroine Joan Of Arc was third in the Nassau at Goodwood three weeks ago.

The biggest threat to the Ballydoyle trio appears to be John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff.

Since completing a huge international double by winning the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic earlier in the year, the son of Make Believe has finished third in the Eclipse and second in the King George to underline his Group One capabilities.

The Andrew Balding-trained Alcohol Free could step up to 10 furlongs for the first time after winning the Coronation Stakes and the Sussex Stakes over a mile this season, while William Haggas is preparing to saddle both Alenquer and Mohaafeth.

Juan Elcano (Kevin Ryan) and Mac Swiney (Jim Bolger) are the other hopefuls.

High Definition could return to York for the Great Voltigeur
High Definition could return to York for the Great Voltigeur (PA)

The main supporting race on the opening afternoon of the Ebor Festival is the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes, which traditionally acts as a trial for next month’s St Leger at Doncaster.

O’Brien retains a strong hand in this Group Two contest, with High Definition one of four contenders.

Third in the Dante Stakes here in May, the son of Galileo was disappointing when favourite for the Irish Derby last time out.

Sir Lamorak, Sir Lucan and The Mediterranean complete O’Brien’s quartet, while Charlie Appleby could run the hat-trick-seeking Kemari, as well as Yibir.

Scope (Ralph Beckett), Third Realm (Roger Varian) and Youth Spirit (Andrew Balding) complete the acceptors.

Haggas has Alenquer and Mohaafeth on Juddmonte International duty

William Haggas is planning a twin assault on the Juddmonte International at York next week, with Mohaafeth set to be joined by stable companion Alenquer.

Mohaafeth has long been considered a likely contender for Wednesday’s 10-furlong showpiece – and while he lost his unbeaten record for the season in the York Stakes over the course and distance last month, he looks set to return to the Knavesmire.

Alenquer has not run over a mile and a quarter since inflicting a narrow defeat on subsequent Derby and King George hero Adayar at Sandown in the spring, since when he has won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and finished third in the Grand Prix de Paris over a mile and a half.

The Adlerflug colt is ante-post favourite for York’s Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes with some bookmakers, but Haggas is favouring a drop in distance on the same afternoon.

“I think he’s more likely to go for the Juddmonte, that’s the idea at the moment,” said the Newmarket handler.

“He’ll be coming back in trip, but you can put a line through his run in France because he never went at all. He got too far back and it was too much (ground to make up).

“We don’t really want to go down the Leger route, so we’re going to go for the shorter races.”

Of Mohaafeth, Haggas said: “I think he’ll go there as well. I haven’t talked to connections, but that’s the way we’d be thinking.”

Mohaafeth is also heading to York
Mohaafeth is also heading to York (David Davies/PA)

The hot favourite for the Juddmonte International is Aidan O’Brien’s St Mark’s Basilica, who has been imperious in winning the French 2000 Guineas, the French Derby and the Coral-Eclipse this season.

Eclipse third and King George runner-up Mishriff is another big gun in contention, and Haggas is under no illusions about the task his two candidates face.

He added: “We’ll need both hands full to take those boys on, but there you go! We’ll see what happens.”

Egan looking forward to Juddmonte assignment with Mishriff

David Egan is relishing the prospect of a rematch between Mishriff and St Mark’s Basilica in the Juddmonte International at York on August 18.

Egan was aboard when the pair met in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July, where Aidan O’Brien’s French 2000 Guineas and Derby winner came out on top in impressive fashion, with Mishriff edged for second by Addeybb.

St Mark’s Basilica was in receipt of 10lb that day – and the John and Thady Gosden-trained Mishriff again had to concede weight when clashing with Derby hero Adayar in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on his latest run.

Beaten just under two lengths over a mile and a half, Egan was pleased with the run but expects Mishriff to be better suited by returning to 10 furlongs on the Knavesmire, with the three-year-old allowance reduced to 7lb, too.

He said: “I think the plan is the Juddmonte, dropping back to a mile and a quarter should play to his strengths.

“I thought he ran a fantastic race over a stiff mile and a half at Ascot, but probably just got outstayed by a horse giving him 11lb.

“Obviously we probably won’t be taking on the Derby winner in the Juddmonte, but maybe we might take him on again later in the year.

“It’s an exciting feeling, we’ll probably have to take on St Mark’s Basilica. Mishriff was a little bit ring-rusty the first day at Sandown, so it would be nice to have a go at him again.”

Mishriff struck Group One gold over 12 furlongs in the Dubai Sheema Classic earlier in the year, adding his huge haul in the Saudi Cup previously, and Egan hailed the Make Believe colt’s adaptability.

He added: “He’s such a versatile horse. Over the mile and a half you have to ride a bit more of a race on him to make sure he relaxes and settles early because he has got a good turn of foot. He showed that turning into the straight at Ascot, he loomed up on the outside looking like he was going to win the race.

“He’s a very versatile horse with a lot of attributes that a Group One horse like him needs.”

York return ‘still an option’ for Mohaafeth

Next month’s Juddmonte International at York remains a possible option for Mohaafeth, despite his eclipse on the Knavesmire last weekend.

The three-year-old was sent off the 4-5 favourite for Saturday’s Group Two York Stakes but had to settle for a fast-finishing third, beaten half a length by the surprise winner Bangkok after sitting in last for much of the extended 10-furlong trip.

Trainer William Haggas was not too disappointed in the immediate aftermath, while connections feel on further reflection that perhaps pacemaker Montatham did not set a strong enough gallop and Mohaafeth therefore just had too much to do.

Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Shadwell Estate, said: “I think it’s fair to say we probably got our tactics wrong, which didn’t help him by setting too slow a pace.

“William feels this horse could easily have the speed to come back to a mile – and having said that, he has won three times at a mile and a quarter, so we can’t say he doesn’t stay.

“I think he just tried to quicken from behind off a quickening pace, if that makes sense. They sprinted, and he had plenty of ground to make up, and I think that’s why you could argue he didn’t stay – but I think it was more he had to make up his ground and he ran some pretty remarkable sectionals and just got tired.”

Mohaafeth had previously impressed in winning three times in the early part of the season, before soft ground at Epsom scuppered a Cazoo Derby run.

Having gained compensation with victory in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Frankel colt is a general 12-1 shot for the International on August 18 – and is also entered for the Celebration Mile at Goodwood, Irish Champion Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Gold added: “We have all the options open. He’s still in the Juddmonte – had he won nicely on Saturday, that’s where we would have been heading.

“We’ll see how he comes out of it, how he is, and that’s still an option – and everything else is still to be discussed.”

Mishriff camp eye Juddmonte International as long-term target

The Juddmonte International at York in August is likely to be a prime target for Mishriff following his exciting victory in the Saudi Cup.

Owner Prince Faisal has personal reasons to target the Group One over an extended 10 furlongs on the Knavesmire with the John Gosden-trained colt.

There is a family connection because he was related to the founder of Juddmonte Farms, Khalid Abdullah, who died last month – and of course the race has a tremendous worldwide reputation.

“I think the Prince, for many reasons, has his eye on the Juddmonte,” said the owner’s racing manager Ted Voute.

“With winning the Juddmonte, you tend to be the highest-rated horse in the world – or thereabouts.

“I think he is keen to prove he is as good a horse as there is – and he was related to Prince Khalid.

“He’s got no interest in selling him at the moment. He wants to enjoy the racing. Ultimately he’ll go to stud.

“John Gosden and the Prince will talk about plans.”

The top races over a mile and a quarter and maybe a mile and a half will come under discussion after Mishriff showed his versatility on Saturday by beating two of the best American dirt horses in Charlatan and Knicks Go to claim the world’s richest race.

The Dubai World Cup, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Breeders’ Cup Classic are also certain to come into the conversation between trainer and the owner-breeder.

“At this stage, I don’t think he’ll race until Royal Ascot if he goes there,” added Voute.

“The Dubai World Cup is only a few weeks away. He’s in it, he’ll be invited – and we’ve got to have that discussion.

“The Prince is keen to add a domestic Group One. He won in France (Prix du Jockey Club) – and if we are going to make him attractive as a stallion you need to add a domestic Group One to the CV. I would suggest the Juddmonte would be it.

“He is building a very interesting CV. There aren’t many horses who can win a French Derby and then a race on dirt over a furlong shorter.

“He did not go for the Arc last year, because the Prince wanted to see the horse run on his home turf as he hadn’t seen him for a year, and that has come out very successfully.

“What could be up for discussion is the Arc if the horse is sound and well. You could consider the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“The Prince raced the sire (Make Believe), and Mishriff is the fourth generation, so it meant a lot to him.”

Monday Musings: Lies, Damned Lies, and…

Don’t look now, but York starts on Wednesday and every year for me that means the beginning of the end of summer, writes Tony Stafford. The nights start to draw in; evening race meetings begin at 4 p.m. and if they want to stage ten-race cards as they have been doing recently, they’ll need to be over by 8 p.m. at the latest, except on all-weather.

I’m still not going racing, instead waiting for the day that, like the French, the British (and Irish) public can attend. Harry and Alan are going up to York and have got a great deal in the Marriott at the mile and a half gate. All they need now are some of the highly-regulated owners’ badges to go their way. Wednesday looks good apparently, but some of the other days are more questionable. It might be a case of watching on the hotel telly.

There’s been a fair amount of goalpost-moving lately. I’m delighted that I can get back from today to ice-rink chauffeuring. In the end Mrs S and her skating chums didn’t have to resort to chaining themselves to the Downing Street railings like latter-day suffragettes to get their pleas heard. Now she needs to see if she can still skate after six months off since her latest leg operation.

But the biggest movement, and one more than relevant to someone who has meticulously – as you all will be aware – kept the Covid-19 UK daily death figures since mid-March, immediately after the conclusion of the Cheltenham Festival, is how they are reported.

Spikes and the now seemingly-defunct “R” number have kept us all in check – bar the odd quarter of a million on Bournemouth, Brighton or Southend beaches when it got really hot. But in the middle of last week, suddenly the Government finally proved that there really are “three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies and statistics” as commonly attributed to the American writer Mark Twain, though whose true origin may predate that great wordsmith.

Back in mid-April, in the week to April 12 there were 6,425 recorded Coronavirus UK deaths, an alarming figure that mercifully began to reduce steadily. By mid-July we were in the realms of below 500 a week and still falling. During the same period, testing was increasing exponentially from the starting point of barely 10,000 tests – in other words, at that time people were really only tested when it was obvious they had the virus. But, by July, between 100,000 and 200,000 tests were available every day.

Then suddenly last week, the Ministry – amid renewed local lock-downs where clusters of positive tests were revealed – concluded it would no longer count as Coronavirus deaths, anyone tested as having the virus but who died more than 28 days afterwards.

So from July 31, when the brave new world came in, and when positive tests were going back up again to 1,000 plus each day the daily deaths in the UK were not. Starting on the last day of July the number of deaths has been 5, 1, 18, 14, 18, 12, 3, 5, 17, 14, 20, 18, 11, 3 and 5. Those numbers are probably smaller than many other routine causes of deaths in a population of 60 million. In all honesty, if that is the basis by which it’s judged, shouldn’t we be getting back to normal?

If they don’t yet have a vaccine ready, shame on them. There have been plenty of people willing to act as paid guinea-pigs, especially if their jobs have disappeared. You might even say if the figures can be presented thus, what’s all the fuss been about?

To the racing. It’s expected to be fast ground at York – amazing news for anyone who has been waiting for the action to start at the Test match at Southampton over the past few days, and they are the conditions I prefer to see on the Knavesmire. Frankie Dettori won’t be there but as the great man approaches his 50th birthday in December, he is showing a rare facility for making correct choices.

While the racing goes on at York, he’ll be staying in Deauville having had the news on Friday that the newly-re-imposed 14-day self-isolation period for people returning from France and some other countries has been modified for elite sportsmen. They, it seems, need only face a seven- or eight-day spell under specific conditions in self-isolation at home before resuming full activity.

Frankie was anxious not to miss either Mishriff, the French Derby winner, impressive again at Deauville last Saturday, or the unbeaten St James’s Palace hero Palace Pier in yesterday’s Prix Jacques Le Marois. That fast-improving colt came through to beat Alpine Star with the older horses led home by Circus Maximus, and best of the home team, Persian King, well beaten off. He is now being lined up for the QE II Stakes at Ascot in the autumn.

Alpine Star had been narrowly pipped in the French Oaks by the Donnacha O’Brien-trained Fancy Blue who went on to take the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood with authority. Jessica Harrington trains Alpine Star, and the two Irish fillies – along with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Peaceful – comprise a formidable trio of mile/ten-furlong star sophomores.

None of them will be at York, but the best of the lot among the Classic generation of females will be.

Potential opposition to Love in Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks again seems to fall principally on Frankly Darling, who disappointingly failed to provide much of a test at Epsom for the Coolmore filly as she added the Oaks to her 1,000 Guineas honours in spectacular style. The four-year-old Manuela De Vega is smart but conceding lumps of weight? Hardly! Dettori’s absence from York – he’s staying en France an extra week – tough! – to wait for a Wesley Ward runner in next weekend’s Prix Morny.

That will still give him time for the requisite eight and a few more days before teaming up with Enable in Kempton’s September Stakes, a cleverly-thought-out target from John Gosden which obviates the need to tackle Love before the Arc. Enable won the September Stakes two years ago as a prelude to her second win in Paris in October. How they would cherish a third as a six-year-old after the shock of being caught close home by Waldgeist last year.

The York meeting opens with another Gosden star, Lord North, the major loss this week for Dettori judged on the four-year-old’s upward-mobility this summer. Winner of six of his nine career races with two seconds and a luckless eased last of eight in the other, Lord North has progressed from a laughably-easy Cambridgeshire winner to outclassing his Prince Of Wales’s Stakes opponents at Royal Ascot. James Doyle is the beneficiary, as he was at Ascot when Dettori rode Mehdaayih. Who’s to say Lord North cannot progress enough to beat Ghaiyyath, as well as the 2,000 Guineas winner Kameko and possibly Magical in the Juddmonte International?

We won’t have Saturday’s Ebor Handicap runners until around 1 p.m. today and I can’t wait to see which potentially top-class horse Messrs Gosden, Haggas or Varian will have lined up to win it. Even though the total prize pool has been slashed from £600,000 to a relatively frugal £250,000 I’m sure there will be enough horses to fill the 22 available stalls. It would be great if a hard-knocking horse from the North could see off the aristocrats from Newmarket.

Another race that I’m looking forward to is Friday’s Nunthorpe Stakes, not least because Wesley Ward is bringing a lightly-raced but clearly talented juvenile to tackle Battaash, Art Power and A’Ali. His Golden Pal, runner-up after making the running to The Lir Jet in the Norfolk Stakes will be going there as a maiden with form figures of 22, having earlier been beaten when favourite for a Gulfstream Park maiden in the spring.

He will be echoing to a large degree the pre-Nunthorpe record 13 years ago of the John Best-trained juvenile Kingsgate Native, a 66-1 debut runner-up in the Windsor Castle Stakes and then second again in the Molecomb at Goodwood.

Backed down to 12-1 (among many, by me!), Kingsgate Native easily beat Desert Lord with future stallions Dandy Man and Red Clubs the next two home. I note the weights will be unchanged from then, so Battaash carries 9st11lb; three-year-olds Art Power and A’Ali 2lb less and Golden Pal only 8st1lb. He will have Andrea Atzeni, who rode him at Ascot, back on board.

I know the other three are highly-talented, and it would be another feather in the Charlie Hills cap if Battaash could win a second Nunthorpe, but I’d much prefer Wesley’s undying love for British racing to get a reward after a couple of less than wonderful years. He certainly seems to have all his ducks in line this time.

So in conclusion, I say enjoy York, if you are, like Harry and Alan, fully documented-up. If not, the wonderful coverage – free and flourishing on ITV though I still doggedly stick to Racing TV – deserves watching for all four days. Please then, start taking off the restraints, Mr Boris. Five months using only two tanks of fuel has been sacrifice enough.