Crystal Ocean and Sir Michael Stoute after landing the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Pic Steven Cargill / Racingfotos.com
Crystal Ocean heads 12 confirmations for the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York on Wednesday.
Sir Michael Stoute’s stable star is officially the highest-rated horse in the world and has already made an impact in the QIPCO British Champions Series this summer.
He landed his first Group 1 at Royal Ascot in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and was then involved in one of the great races of modern times when going toe-to-toe with Enable in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes, narrowly coming off second-best.
Stoute, who will be aiming for a record seventh win in the 10-furlong showpiece, has also left in Regal Reality.
Leading the opposition is set to be Aidan O’Brien’s Japan, who has attracted strong ante-post support in recent days.
A setback in the spring meant the Galileo colt did not reappear until the Dante Stakes in May, where he finished fourth before a close third in the Derby. Going on from Epsom, O’Brien’s charge has won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in clear-cut fashion together with the Grand Prix de Paris.
O’Brien said: “Japan has been coming along lovely and there has never been pressure put on him. He is ready to go and he could run in York and then could turn up at Leopardstown (Irish Champion Stakes).”
O’Brien can also call on Investec Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, together with Magical and Circus Maximus.
As expected, Mark Johnston’s Elarqam, an impressive winner of a Group 2 over course and distance last time out, has been supplemented at a cost of £75,000.
John Gosden has left in Enable, although it is expected she will run over a mile and a half the following day in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, and stablemate King Of Comedy.
The latter was narrowly denied in his first top-level success when a fast-finishing second to Circus Maximus in the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile.
Cheval Grand will be aiming to emulate his compatriot Deirdre, who won at Goodwood for Japan. His connections will be hoping the ground is quicker than when he was seventh in the King George.
David O’Meara’s Queen Anne Stakes winner Lord Glitters and the David Menuisier-trained Thundering Blue, third last year, have also stood their ground.
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