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Will Crystal Ocean be denied York glory? Get 2019 Juddmonte International tips

Brian Healy 19 Aug 2019
Crystal Ocean (credit:Frank Sorge via Images)

Brian Healy gives his runner-by-runner guide to Wednesday's feature Juddmonte International on day one of the York Ebor Festival meeting.

The feature race on the opening day of the York Ebor Festival meeting is the Group One Juddmonte International, which goes to post at 3.35pm as the fourth race of the afternoon.

The extended ten furlongs contest carries a winners’ prize of just in excess of £600,000 and a strong field of nine runners will assemble for a top-class renewal, each bidding to collect the prize pot and join the likes of Roaring Lion, Postponed, Australia, Frankel and Sea The Stars in on a famous roll of honour.

The latest renewal of this fantastic race will be shown live as part of ITV Racing’s coverage of the Wednesday feature meeting, and Brian Healy takes a look at the big-race field.

Crystal Ocean (6/5, Paddy Power) will be many people’s idea of the winner of the Group One prize, and it is little wonder that Sir Michael Stoute’s charge heads the betting for this contest.

The Sea The Stars entire won three times last term before racking up an equal amount of runner-up efforts which includes behind both Enable and Cracksman. Having gone 3-3 this term, including posting a defeat of Magical to make a Group One breakthrough in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, he lost little caste in defeat when last seen out in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes where he came off a neck second-best behind Enable.

On form he is the one to beat, but he had a really hard race at Ascot last time out where he battled valiantly to no avail behind the dual-Arc heroine, and there has to be a slight fear that those exertions may have left a mark.

At his peak he’ll surely prove a tough nut to crack, but he probably need to be at his best here and given his cramped odds there may be some value in taking him on.

Stoute also saddles the quirky Regal Reality (25/1, Bet365) who is a capable sort, and the Intello colt got off the mark for the season when successful over this trip in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes where he readily came clear of Matterhorn.

He had finished a good third on his reappearance behind Beat The Bank over the same course prior to that success, and he subsequently returned to the Esher track to contest the Coral Eclipse Stakes where he finished around three lengths’ third behind Enable.

That was a solid effort, but he wasn’t able to replicate that performance when last seen out over course and distance in the York Stakes where the soft ground was possibly against him when finishing five lengths’ adrift of the reopposing Elarqam.

He should appreciate a better surface here, but he has looked a hard ride on occasion and he needs a bit more if he’s to mount a serious challenge for this prize.

Japan (5/1, Coral) is one of two runners in the race for Aidan O’Brien, and the Galileo colt has gone from strength to strength this term having won twice as a juvenile.

In need of the run on his reappearance behind Telecaster here in the Dante, he was a fast-finishing third to Anthony Van Dyck in the Epsom Derby before registering a pair of wins at Ascot and Longchamp respectively.

The latter of those wins came in the Group One Grand Prix de Paris, having beaten Bangkok the time before in the King Edward VII Stakes during Royal Ascot. He is entitled to run well again, but the bare form of his wins perhaps leave him with a bit to do, while the drop in trip isn’t sure to suit given he has looked very appreciative of a stiff test in recent outings.

Circus Maximus (10/1, Bet365) on the other hand possibly failed to see out the Epsom Derby trip where he finished sixth behind stablemate Anthony Van Dyck; but the Galileo colt ha since bounced back with a defeat of King Of Comedy to win the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, after which he lost no caste in defeat behind now-retired Too Darn Hot in the Sussex Stakes latest.

Both those runs came over one mile, but he was a winner over this trip at Chester on his reappearance in the Dee Stakes and the return to ten furlongs shouldn’t present any issues. The blinkers he has worn the last twice are retained for this latest outing, and while he probably needs to step up his game again, he could go well.

King Of Comedy (7/2, Coral) is an improving sort, and John Gosden’s charge could have better to come having just failed to overhaul Circus Maximus at Ascot where he had been forced to race widest of all. 

That was only his fifth career start, and he was stepping up on earlier wins at Yarmouth and Sandown with that runner-up effort where he was a fast-finishing neck behind the winner. He had a below-par Too Darn Hot behind him, as well as Irish 2000 Guineas Phoenix Of Spain further back in arrears, and his task now is to back up that run.

Strictly on the formbook he has more to do, but he is bred to appreciate this longer trip and his yard have made a habit this season of collecting big prizes so a bold bid wouldn’t be a surprise for all he probably needs to improve again.

A wind operation meanwhile has worked the oracle for ELARQAM (10/1, William Hill) who has really got his act together this term, and Mark Johnston’s charge has found considerable improvement this term.

The Frankel colt won both starts as a juvenile, but he was winless last term which included when finishing third behind Thundering Blue over course and distance in last season’s York Stakes. He possibly needed his return to action at Newmarket in April when finishing almost six lengths adrift of Zabeel Prince in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes where he could only finish fourth.

However, he has proven a different proposition since that return and he has won three of his next four outings which include here last month when demolishing Addeybb by three lengths to win the York Stakes.

The likes of Bangkok and Regal Reality were both behind him that day, and he appeared to win the race cosily having struck the front at the two furlong pole before keeping on strongly to register a ready success.

Connections have supplemented him at considerable cost for this contest which may well prove to be money well spent, and while he probably needs more on the balance of his form he is clealy thriving at present and may well have more to offer back on a better surface and with the potential to improve further still.

Lord Glitters (25/1, Ladbrokes) sprung something of a surprise when making his Group One breakthrough in the Queen Anne Stakes, beating the ill-fated Beat The Bank with a late thrust to claim the prize.

David O’Meara’s charge wasn’t seen to best effect however when only finishing fifth in the Sussex Stakes where the steady pace wouldn’t have suited, and the hold-up performer will be hopeful that this is run at a more honest gallop.

He has won here before, winning last season’s Strensall Stakes from Mustashry before acquitting himself well in a pair of Group One contests, and he is likely to give another good account of himself here.

Versatile with the ground, his best form for O’Meara has come at around one mile; but he was a French winner over this longer trip for his previous trainer during his younger days and he is interesting back at this yardage although he may prove vulnerable to the younger horses.

Fellow six-year old Thundering Blue (40/1, William Hill) goes well on the Knavesmire, and the Exchange Rate gelding can’t be easily dismissed given his record here.

A three-time winner last term, two of those successes came at this venue which included when winning the York Stakes from Brorocco and Elarqam, after which he ran well in defeat behind Roaring Lion in this race before finding only Desert Encounter too strong when sent to Canada for the International Stakes.

He has struggled this term however, failing to trouble the judge and finishing last in two of his three starts this term which includes behind Coronet at Saint-Cloud back in June. Held by Elarqam on their Goodwood encounter in May, he needs to bounce back from those lesser efforts, and while he could well do so at his favourite venue he looks hard to fancy in his current form.

Completing the field for Wednesday’s Group One contest, Japanese raider Cheval Grand (33/1, Coral) will bid to end a winless streak stretching back to the 2017 Japan Cup.

Yasuo Tomomichi’s charge has largely been consistent in defeat, only once finishing outside the first four, and he may just have needed his return from four months off when finishing sixth to Enable at Ascot last month.

He is entitled to be sharper for that run, but the drop in trip is a negative and he beat only three home when last tried at this distance at Hanshin last April. He’ll appreciate the better ground, but this could prove too much to ask of him, and no seven-year old has won this race in its’ history so he has plenty going against him.


Crystal Ocean will be a tough nut to crack if at the top of his game. But he had a hard race in defeat behind Enable in the recent King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes which may have left a mark, and it could pay to side with the progressive ELARQAM (10/1, William Hill) who has been improved considerably by a wind operation.

Mark Johnston’s charge has won three of his last four starts which includes a defeat of the smart Addeybb over course and distance last month, and the lightly-raced Frankel gelding could have better still to come.

This better ground will hold no fears, and he has won three of his five attempts at this distance, so it wouldn’t come as a shock to see him posting a big effort here for his in-form yard for all he probably needs to find another jolt of improvement back at the top table.


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Will Crystal Ocean be denied York glory? Get 2019 Juddmonte International tips

Brian Healy gives his runner-by-runner guide to Wednesday's feature Juddmonte International on day one of the York Ebor Festival meeting.

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