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The Juddmonte International Stakes

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Postponed and Andrea Atzeni after winning The Juddmonte International Stakes
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History

The Juddmonte International Stakes, the last middle-distance QIPCO British Champions Series race before the QIPCO Champion Stakes provides the glittering climax to the category on QIPCO British Champions Day, is a race with a short but glorious history.

The event, run at York over 1 miles, 2 furlongs and 88 yards (2,090 metres), first appeared in 1972. But what an appearance! American-bred Roberto, a Derby winner and named after baseball star Roberto Clemente, became the first – and last – horse to beat Brigadier Gerard.

There have been other notable highlights in this Group 1 race for three-year-olds or older – Troy, the 1979 Derby winner, Commanche Run, the 1984 St Leger winner, two-time winner Halling and Giant’s Causeway, rated Europe’s top horse in 2000.

And then, of course, there was Sea The Stars, who took the race in 2009 – the same year he won an incredible six Group 1 races within six months, including the 2000 Guineas, Investec Derby and Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe.

Frankel became the latest superstar to capture the race in 2012 as he recorded his 13th success from as many starts with a seven-length demolition of his rivals.

The dual Derby winner, Australia, won it in 2014, making Aidan O’Brien joint with Sir Michael Stoute with five victories.

If you’re looking for the best quiz question concerning the Juddmonte International Stakes, then try this one – what is the family name of the jockey who has entered the winner’s enclosure six times? Answer – Dettori, with six wins (although only the last five of those went to Frankie. The first went to his father Gianfranco in 1976. That would have been a tad early for Frankie, who was five years old at the time).

Current leading jockey: Frankie Dettori, 5 wins (1996-7, 2001, 2004, 2007)
Current leading trainer: Sir Michael Stoute, 5 wins (1986, 1993-4, 1997, 2006), Aidan O’Brien, 5 wins (2000, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014)

Previous winners

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Postponed powers to glory in International

Postponed cemented his position as the best middle-distance horse in Europe with victory in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York today.

It was the third QIPCO British Champions Series race that the five-year-old had won, following on from his victories in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes last year and this term’s Investec Coronation Cup.

And he has not finished yet, with owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid confirming the horse who has forged such a great bond with Andrea Atzeni will stay in training next year.

Roger Varian, his trainer, reflected upon one of the highlights of his career after Postponed had beaten five other Group 1 winners just 28 days after he had been diagnosed with a respiratory infection that demanded rest and careful observation. The trainer had also been enduring a lean spell.

Despite the concerns, the Kremlin House stable star was the 15-8 favourite to claim his first top-level success over a mile and a quarter and moved sweetly behind his pacemaker King Bolete and this year’s King George hero Highland Reel.

Highland Reel did his best to make a race of it, but Postponed always looked to have the upper hand and was good value for his one-and-a-quarter length success under Atzeni.

The unlucky horse was William Haggas-trained Mutakayyef, who was coming to challenge when carried right by the winner late on. That almost certainly cost him second place.

Varian said: “He’s an incredible horse. The team at home have done a fantastic job. A week ago I wasn’t sure if I’d have been running or not, but the last week he really showed he was back to himself. I can’t tell you how much satisfaction I feel.

“Coming into the race we’ve been struggling with some of the horses and struggling to get consistent performances over the last six weeks.

“We had to pull him out of the King George, which was heartbreaking at the time, so to come back and win this races is one of the highlights (of my career). It’s joy, it’s relief – it means everything.”

Bookmakers offer odds of around 6-1 about Postponed winning the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and Europe’s premier middle-distance prize – this year run at Chantilly – is now likely to be his next port of call.

“He was in Dubai in March, he was at Epsom in June, we’ve appeared in August and the Arc might not be his last run of the year, so I’m not sure we necessarily need a prep run,” said the trainer.

Aidan O’Brien said of Highland Reel: “He’s in all the Australian races but he could go somewhere before that. Timing-wise, I’d say the Irish Champion (Stakes, Leopardstown) could be the one, but there’s also a race in America, the Sword Dancer (Saratoga), he could run in.”

Haggas said he was “chuffed to bits” with Mutakayyef and was left lamenting the fact that his challenger was hampered late on.

Sir Isaac Newton and Exosphere ran well in fourth and fifth, but the rest – including The Grey Gatsby, Hawkbill and Wings Of Desire – were well beaten.

Results

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The Course

The city of York and its racecourse have a long and colourful history, involving – among others - the Vikings, the Romans, Pope John Paul II, highwayman Dick Turpin, and the Princess Royal.

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There’s no official record of the Vikings racing horses at York – they apparently preferred sacking and pillaging – but the Romans certainly did, during the reign of Emperor Severus 2,000 years ago. Severus, indeed, breathed his final breath in ‘Eboracum’ – that’s Roman for York. So did Turpin. He was hanged at the Knavesmire racecourse site in 1739. Pope John Paul II enjoyed a friendlier reception, lauded by 200,000 pilgrims at an open-air mass in 1982, while Princess Anne also enjoyed huge support when winning the Queen Mother’s Cup on Insular in 1988.

The North Yorkshire track, voted Racecourse of the Year in 2003, continues to attract the crowds today, with around 350,000 flocking through the gates each year. York comes into its own during the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival in August, the meeting boasting such races as the Juddmonte International Stakes, part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, and the totesport Ebor Handicap. Lester Piggott won the Ebor Handicap a record five times – the first in 1958 and the last 25 years later, in 1983.

Getting there

Tadcaster Rd York,
York
YO23 1EX

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