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Juddmonte International acclaimed as 2021 Longines World’s Best Race

26 Jan 2021

Last year's Group 1 event saw a stellar renewal won by Godolphin star Ghaiyyath, scoops top Longines award

You do not need many runners to make for a memorable contest and there was confirmation today when the Juddmonte International at York was named as the Longines World’s Best Horse Race in 2020.

Five runners went to post on the Knavesmire on August 19 and four of them –  Ghaiyyath, Magical, Lord North and Kameko – were established as being among the best in the universe. Between them, they had already also won six Group 1 races that summer.

Ghaiyyath, trained by Charlie Appleby, had made all in the Coronation Cup and Coral-Eclipse and was sent off the 11/8 favourite. Six-time Group 1 winner Magical was seeking to give trainer Aidan O’Brien a record seventh win in the race and lined up at 9/4 having won the Alwasmiyah Polly Pretty and Tattersalls Gold Cup by an aggregate of almost seven lengths.

Then there was Lord North, emphatic winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, and Kameko, who had won the QIPCO 2000 Guineas in a record time before finishing fourth in the Investec Derby. They went off at 4/1 and 11/2, respectively, with the other runner, three-year-old filly Rose Of Kildare, a triple Group 3 winner, chalked up at 80/1.

It did not disappoint with front-running Ghaiyyath typically powering along at the head of affairs under regular rider William Buick, who again invited the opposition to “catch me if you can”.

Kameko briefly looked a threat as he made ground in smoothy style up the inside two out. Lord North was also making headway, but Magical found herself struggling to keep up with Rose Of Kildare out of contention.

The stalkers had Ghaiyyath in their sights but the exuberant front-runner was not stopping and as he continued to motor along his rivals, one by one, began to buckle.

Kameko seemed betrayed by a lack of stamina as he faded late on, while Lord North could not muster the telling turn of foot he had shown at Ascot. It was left to the rallying Magical to chase home the winner but Ghaiyyath crossed the line with three lengths to spare in a time quicker than Ulysses, Roaring Lion and Japan had managed in the previous three years.

“This horse can do all the things most horses can’,” Buick said. “He has an amazing high cruising speed we’ve seen many times from him, and he manages to see his races off as well.

“It was an amazing performance again. It all went how I wanted it to. He was happy all the way throughout and it was a smooth performance.”

Appleby said: “I’m delighted with that. It was straightforward, a great performance and a great front-running ride by William. He’s not let us down this year and as I said right at the start of the year, he’s more the finished article now. I’m just delighted for the whole team.

“We were coming into today and his prep had been faultless. We knew he was the finished article. I’ve said before that last year he took time to get over races as he put so much in, but right from the get-go we weren’t seeing those dips this year.”

Ghaiyyath went into the race with an official rating of 127, which was afterwards elevated to 130. Magical’s rating was 122 beforehand, with Lord North on 124 and Kameko 119.

It was the second time in six years that the mile-and-a-quarter showpiece on the Knavesmire, which forms part of the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series, had been recognised as the best race run anywhere in the globe. The 2014 renewal won by Australia won similar acclaim.