Four days of excellent racing for the Ebor festival at York begins today, and on day one we have three Group races with the highlight being the Juddmonte International.
15:35 Juddmonte International Stakes
The Richard Hannon trained Barney Roy is the current favourite at around 11/4. He was beaten into second place by Ulysses last time out at Sandown in the Coral Eclipse, where he just needed another stride and he would have been first past the post. This Excelebration colt was the brilliant winner of the St James Palace Stakes' at the Royal meeting the step up to ten furlongs looks ideal for him (he will perhaps get a mile and a half with the way he stayed on last time), and I expect him to put in another super performance here today.
Ulysses was excellent that day, before being well and truly put in his place by the brilliant Enable at Ascot. That was on good to soft going and over 12 furlongs, therefore, I think the return to ten furlongs and the much firmer ground will be to his liking and can't see any reason for him to not put in another strong performance. Sir Michael Stoute's runners are in great form at the moment and I expect there to be very little to choose between him and Barney Roy.
Churchill was disappointing at Royal Ascot when something appeared to be amiss at Royal Ascot. He was then pulled out of the much-anticipated class with Ribchester at Glorious Goodwood when the ground was too soft, so he has something to prove against this classy field today. He was the excellent winner of the 2,000 Guineas in May where an unbeaten season looked a prospect after being the easy winner of the Irish version. If Ascot was just an off day then this Galileo colt could again prove himself a class apart, especially if as expected the increase in distance to ten furlongs brings about further improvement.
Aiden O'Brien has two in the race (when doesn't he?!) and Cliffs Of Moher was a very good second in the Epsom Derby. Next time out he was comfortably beaten by Ulysses at Sandown and he does give the impression that a mile and a half is his preferred distance, which will mean he could easily be outpaced in this field.
14:25 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes
This is a seven-furlong Group 3 for two-year-olds, and it has attracted a line-up of some potentially top class milers for next year.
I was hugely impressed with the way Dee Ex Bee routed the field at Goodwood earlier this month, and the form has since been franked with the fourth and ninth placed horses winning. Mark Johnston has a fine record with his two-year-olds and I expect Dee Ex Bee to be much shorter in next year's 2,000 Guineas market after this race.
15:00 Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes
Cracksman hasn't run since his second place in the Irish Derby in July, which followed his third in the English version. He steps down to Group 2 company today and I fully expect him to have too much class for this field. This Frankel colt looks a classy horse and I am confident Frankie Dettori will be taking another trip to the winners enclosure.
14:25 Dee Ex Bee - 2 points @ 9/4
15:00 Cracksman - 3 points @ 10/11
15:35 Churchill - 1 point @ 10/3