Click above to watch Rishi Persad, Lydia Hislop and Steve Mellish
as they preview the 2012 Juddmonte International Stakes
(Image and Footage : Official BC Series)
JUDDMONTE INTERNATIONAL STAKES (Gr1)
York, Turf, 2090m
22 August 2012
Too often in sport, we’re ready to proclaim ours as the event of the year, of the decade, or better still, the century. But if the stewards at York racecourse in England want to call Wednesday’s clash in the Juddmonte International (Gr.1) exactly that, “The Race of the Century”, they could be close to the mark. Sceptics might argue that this century is only twelve years old, and they’re right, but if you rewind to 1900, it would be hard to find a more compelling match-up in racing than that between Frankel and St Nicholas Abbey this Wednesday. This isn’t Camelot, I’m afraid, but it’s Coolmore’s next best thing, a triple Group One winner, and a horse they’ve been shouting from the rooftops ever since he was a juvenile.
Americans will point to the great rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar in 1978, the British still talk about Brigadier Gerard and Mill Reef, and both do so with some justification. Yet others in America remember the Jockey Club Gold Cup of 1979, featuring Affirmed, Spectacular Bid and Coastal in what the feted equine artist Richard Stone Reeves labelled his “Race of the Century” (remember, the Belmont hero, Coastal stood the latter half of his stud career here at Summerhill). But in Frankel we have the highest rated European racehorse of all time, (well, certainly since Phil Bull started rating horses in the early fifties in his Timeform publications) and in St Nicholas Abbey, we not only have one of the top rated older horses in Europe, but we have a horse whom the giant Coolmore operation consider among the best to carry their silks. And they’ve had a few: think Montjeu, Galileo, Sadler’s Wells, Giant’s Causeway etc. Of course, their star three-year-old, Camelot, would’ve been all the more mouth-watering, but knowing how shrewd they are, the Irish outfit could just be using the Juddmonte as a “sighter” to get a line on Frankel, for a later tilt at him with Camelot.
Meanwhile, it’s worth hearing legendary trainer Aidan O’Brien, on the subject: “St Nicholas Abbey had a little bit of a break after the King George, and is in top shape. We were very happy with him at Ascot, where he travelled and quickened very well. We’ve always thought the world of “St. Nic”. He was a very good two-year-old, his three-year-old career was a bit of a mess, but we’ve been delighted with him at four and five. He’s a very exciting horse who travels and quickens, and we think he’s still on the upgrade. Frankel is a great horse, and every time we see him is a privilege”.
You don’t have to be a racing fan to savour this one and you don’t have to be a subscriber to Tellytrack to tune in. You just have to have a subscription to DSTV and flick to channel 232 on Wednesday afternoon. Make sure your kids are on standby, as this one could be for the ages.
P.S. The big race is run at 4:40 pm, our time.