Declaration of War turns over some big names in York’s Juddmonte International
Breeders’ Cup Classic may be on the colt’s hit-list, as well as the Irish Champion Stakes
Declaration of War ridden by Joseph O’Brien beats Al Kazeem (left) and Trading Leather to win the Juddmonte International Stakes at York. Photograph:John Giles/PA
Aidan O’Brien rarely commits himself to firm targets in the immediate aftermath of a big-race success, leaving that instead to “the lads” in the Coolmore Stud syndicate who supply the horses for his Ballydoyle yard. There was a sense after the International Stakes here yesterday, however, that Declaration Of War’s path has already been decided and it leads towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race which has produced only disaster and disappointment for O’Brien in the past.
The death of George Washington, the 2006 2,000 Guineas winner, on a rain-sodden track at Monmouth Park in 2007 was one of the lowest moments of O’Brien’s training career, while both Giant’s Causeway in 2000 and Henrythenavigator in 2008 finished second in America’s most valuable race. If O’Brien has any ambitions left, victory in the Classic at Santa Anita is probably top of the list and Declaration Of War, in both physique and running style, looks like a very credible contender.
He was a 7-1 chance for yesterday’s race, the feature event on the opening afternoon of York’s Ebor meeting, in a market headed by Al Kazeem, the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and Eclipse Stakes winner, and Toronado, who took the Sussex Stakes last month. Both colts were disappointing, as Al Kazeem was reluctant to let himself down on the fast ground as he faded into third while Toronado was never travelling and was beaten too far from home for his stamina to be an issue. He was found to be coughing after the race.
That left an opportunity for Declaration Of War to exploit and, while he does not have the innate brilliance of some of O’Brien’s former stars, he is impressively robust and consistent. This was his sixth Group One start this season, and his best form was good enough to see off Trading Leather, the Irish Derby winner, by a length and a quarter, with Al Kazeem another length and a half adrift.
“He has an unbelievable constitution,” O’Brien said. “He’s made like a big sprinter, he works with a lot of speed at home, travels very strongly and definitely he’s improving.
“You could imagine that it would be something like that [the Breeders’ Cup Classic] for him. Giant’s Causeway ran a super race on the dirt, and the big thing on the dirt is to jump and travel, and he does that, he travels very strongly.”
Telescope, who returned to winning form in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, is still only a possible runner in next month’s St Leger, for which he needs to be supplemented at a cost of GBP45,000.
Ryan Moore’s mount, who was beaten at odds-on when facing older horses for the first time at Haydock earlier this month, showed good acceleration to open up a decisive lead inside the final quarter of a mile. He still looked a little immature in the closing stages, however, and can be expected to improve again next time.
“We’re thrilled to see him do it and do it so well,” Harry Herbert, who manages the syndicate, including Sir Alex Ferguson, which owns Telescope, said. “Sir Michael [Stoute, the winning trainer] says that he is a very good drinker, he rehydrates himself well after a race and he was happy for him to come here. Ryan said that he felt a different horse today. I’m sure the Leger will be part of the mix, we’ll have to see.”