The world’s highest-rated horse, Baaeed, lines up in the Juddmonte International Stakes on the first day of York’s Ebor meeting, but Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway reckons the favourite might be vulnerable.
Here are his three best bets for day one on the Knavesmire.
Indestructible @ 11/2
Aikhal @ 7/2
Mishriff @ 4/1
The Tattersalls Acomb Stakes (2.25) is the first Group race of Ebor week and it should go for export to Ireland because the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Indestructible has a huge chance.
The 150,000 euros breeze-up purchase has looked precocious on his two starts so far, showing promise when fifth in a big-field at the Curragh on his debut and building on that when sent to Britain on his second start by recording a wide-margin victory in a novice race at Windsor.
Indestructible looked green and unsuited by the tight track but, when he hit top gear, he went into overdrive and was no stronger than at the finish, going through the line full of running.
This is a significant rise in class, but Indestructible looks certain to improve for the step up to 7f and he is bred to be suited by it too. His dam stayed 1m and is from the family of a 1m4f Grade 3 winner in Canada. Everything points to a bold bid now he tackles a stiffer test.
Nobody has ridden the big meetings better than Ryan Moore this season and the red-hot jockey can get off the mark for Ebor week on Aikhal in the Great Voltigeur Stakes (3.00).
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt is out of a sister to a 1m4f winner and from the family of strong stayers Latrobe and Pink Dogwood, so always looked likely to be in need of a trip.
He showed plenty of ability over a mile last season, including when fourth in Group 1 company in France, but it was no surprise when he improved for the step up to 1m2f at the Curragh on his latest start to win a competitive Group 3 head-in-chest and by a wide margin.
Aikhal slammed some smart performers that day, including subsequent winner Rumbles Of Thunder and Irish 2,000 Guineas hero Mac Swiney. A reproduction of that form alone might be good enough and further improvement for the step up to 1m4f will make him hard to beat.
Baaeed comes into the Juddmonte International Stakes (3.35) with a lofty BHA rating of 128, which puts him on top of the world. However, that rating is based on winning slowly run races over a mile and he has a bit to prove over an extra two and a half furlongs at York.
Stamina is the big question mark. His brother Hukum won the Coronation Cup and evidently stays well, but Baaeed has a lot more speed than his sibling and it has been a quick burst of acceleration that has been winning him races over shorter. This is an entirely different test.
He is worth opposing at cramped odds with last year’s winner Mishriff, who produced a stunning display when successful 12 months ago and was rightly lauded as the best horse in the world at the time by many. If he returns to that form, he will be extremely tough to beat.
The worry is he hasn’t won since. However, two of his subsequent defeats came at Ascot, where he is now 0-4, and he definitely didn’t show his form when beaten 80 lengths in last in the Saudi Cup at Riyadh in February. A line can certainly be put through that disappointment.
His only other defeat came in a slowly run Eclipse at Sandown behind Vadeni and he would have won but for finding trouble in running. He lost by a fast-diminishing neck and that was a top-class race featuring five Group 1 scorers - better than anything Baaeed has been winning.
That proved he retains his ability at the age of five and a return to this track can do the trick.