King Of Comedy ready to rule at York Ebor Festival
No horse deserves to win a second Group One more than Crystal Ocean, still the highest-rated turf horse in the world despite just coming off second best in an epic King George duel with Enable.
But, alas, deserving never won a horse race and Michael Stoute's five-year-old, who had a hard race at Ascot and, one suspects, would prefer the stiffer mile and a quarter of Ascot to the contourless Knavesmire, looks vulnerable against a gang of improving three-year-olds in an intriguing Juddmonte International on the first day of York's Ebor meeting.
Ever since the race's inauguration in 1972, when Roberto and Braulio Baeza inflicted the only defeat on Brigadier Gerard in an 18-race career, the International has had a reputation for rabbits being pulled from hats and Crystal Ocean does not appeal at 11/10.
Aidan O'Brien runs what appear, by a process of elimination, his best two middle-distance three-year-old colts in Japan, ready winner of the Grand Prix de Paris, and Circus Maximus, the St James's Palace winner and Sussex Stakes second.
Ryan Moore rides Japan, but who rides what has not been a good guide to Ballydoyle form this season and it would be a worry at the back of my mind that on their last starts, Ballydoyle's Classic winners Anthony Van Dyck and Hermosa ran deplorably recently, replicating a quiet time the stable endured last August.
That leaves King Of Comedy for the men of the moment, John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
They are, of course, a huge contributory factor to the likelihood that Lady Bamford's Kingman colt will be sent off as second favourite, meaning victory for him would hardly constitute a shock.
At the moment he is no more than a Listed race winner, but his fast-finishing second to Circus Maximus in the St James's Palace suggests a mile and a quarter will bring about further improvement. He also comes here fresh.
I am not sure how the buses run in Tokyo, but Japanese racing will be hoping after Deirdre's Nassau success at Goodwood that their horses are like London buses, but you would have to be an optimist to think he can become the third Japanese Group One winner in Britain.
A long shot with a better each-way chance is Thundering Blue, who loves the track and was third in this a year ago.
© Daily Telegraph, London
- York Ebor Festival, Live, Virgin Media 1/ ITV 1.30