London – Crystal Ocean may not be the most original choice in the Juddmonte International Stakes on Wednesday, but it will be a huge surprise if he cannot take a starring role on day one of the Ebor meeting at York.
Sir Michael Stoute’s charge is officially ranked as the best horse in the world after three successive excellent campaigns.
Second in the St Leger at three, Crystal Ocean has really come into his own since switching back to middle distances – and this term has marked a new high in his career.
A comfortable winner of two Group 3s in the early part of the year, he claimed a deserved Group 1 verdict with an outstanding display in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
His team must have thought the summer could not get much better than that, but Crystal Ocean then came off a narrow second best to Enable in what was a race for the ages in last month’s King George.
Going head-to-head for the final 400m, the 1.5kg Crystal Ocean was forced to concede perhaps proved crucial at the death – but it was a career-best effort that sees him line up here on an official mark of 127.
That puts him 3kg clear of his nearest rival – and while Japan could be interesting for Aidan O’Brien, it is hard to go against the likely short-priced favourite.
O’Brien could well be on the mark today, with Constantinople fancied to strike in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes.
He has to turn around Goodwood form with Nayef Road, but there is every reason to think he can do so off level weights.
Beaten just a neck in the Gordon Stakes, he did not really help himself by hanging in the finish – and his rider will surely be alive to that possibility this time.
Persuasion made an impressive debut at Goodwood, and can take a swift step up in class in his stride in the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes.
A 16-1 outsider at the Sussex track, he defied those odds to run out a cosy 0.5-length winner of a well-contested maiden event – and there appeared to be plenty more to come.
Justanotherbottle was another to run at Goodwood – and while he had to settle for fifth in the Stewards’ Cup, the winner that day looked a certain future Group race victor.
The Sky Bet And Symphony Group Handicap is also competitive enough, but Declan Carroll’s charge should not be ruled out.
Freerolling catches the eye as he moves out of novice company in the 32Red Handicap at Kempton.
A winner on his racecourse bow, this Exceed And Excel gelding has finished third on each of his three subsequent starts, and trainer Charlie Fellowes has decided to take advantage of a mark of 85.
Mojave is the choice in the 100% Profit Boost At 32Redsport.com Novice Median Auction Stakes, while To The Moon can get back on the right track in the 32Red On The App Store Fillies’ Handicap.
Four Wheel Drive has hit a rich vein of form and can notch up his hat trick in the racingtv.com Handicap at Carlisle.
He turns out again quickly after winning at Beverley last week, with a 3kg penalty unlikely to arrest his progress.- Press Association