The Juddmonte International Stakes (3.40pm, York, Wednesday) is the last middle-distance race in the Qipco British Champion Series before the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October and has attracted a small but select field of some of the best middle-distance colts in the country.
Trainer Roger Charlton’s (pictured) Al Kazeem (5/4) has proved something of a revelation since returning from more than a year off at Sandown in April. He’s since completed a hat-trick of Group 1 victories in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Eclipse at Sandown and seems sure to be a tough nut to crack once again.
He holds Declaration Of War (12/1) on their running in the Coral-Eclipse – the form of which has been franked by the third, Mukhadram – and, as one of just three distance winners in the field, appears to have outstanding claims.
His main market rival, Toronado (2/1), beat Dawn Approach and Declaration Of War by half a length and 2½ lengths in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood three weeks ago, but tackles a mile and a quarter and older rivals for the first time.
He is the highest rated horse in the race, according to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and, being by High Chaparral, has plenty of stamina in the top half of his pedigree. However, his ability to act over an extra two furlongs had been hotly debated, even by connections, and he looks a riskier proposition than Al Kazeem, who apparently has no chinks in his armour.
Irish Derby winner Trading Leather (7/1) also won the Listed Silver Stakes, over mile and a quarter, at the Curragh in June and commands respect on his creditable, albeit remote, second to Novellist in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last month. That form entitles him, once again, to beat Hillstar (14/1), who finished half a length behind in third but, while they’re both clearly smart, they look likely to be battling for third place, at best, if the principals run to form.
With the exception of Rewarded (150/1), who looks woefully outclassed, the other runners should make this year’s Juddmonte International Stakes a fascinating and informative contest. At odds against, AL KAZEEM looks good value to carry on the good work this season, so our betting advice is to get stuck into Roger Charlton’s five-year-old to win at a best price of 11/8 with Bet365 and William Hill.