O’Brien’s High Definition faces major York task against Baaeed

World’s highest rated racehorse set to step up from a mile for the first time in Juddmonte

Aidan O’Brien’s hopes of record seventh success in York’s Juddmonte International on Wednesday revolve around the outsider High Definition whose mammoth task will be to overcome the world’s highest rated racehorse, Baaeed.

The latter is an overwhelming favourite for the opening day highlight of York’s Ebor festival although some bookmakers plan to take on the unbeaten star on his first start past a mile.

“He’s not totally bomb-proof as he’s not proven over the trip and I think we will be looking to lay him on the day,” a Ladbrokes spokesperson predicted on Monday. “Mishriff was very impressive here last year and will be sure to attract support.”

Mishriff is rated the biggest threat to the general 4-9 favourite who is unbeaten in nine starts to date.


Baaeed will try to emulate Frankel who a decade ago stepped up from a mile for the first time to devastating effect in the Juddmonte.

“We’ve always felt he’d be better over further but we’ve got a few people emailing us and casting doubt on whether we should be doing it. But Sheikha Hissa (owner) is up for the challenge and I think it would be remiss of us not to give it a go,” said Baaeed’s trainer William Haggas.

“There’s nothing I can do about the competition on the day and if the Mishriff of last year comes to York in the same form he’ll be incredibly difficult to beat as he was unbelievably impressive that day.

“Mishriff ran a very, very good race in the Eclipse and a little bit of a lack-lustre race in the King George so who knows which one will turn up. But he’ll be a danger as will lots of others,” he added.

The Haggas trained star will be joined in the seven-runner field by two stable companions Dubai Honour and Alenquer who landed the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May.

On that occasion he had High Definition a neck behind him in second but the sole Irish contender is definitely among the outsiders in this company.

Japan in 2019 was the last of O’Brien’s six winners in the race, a record he shares with Sir Michael Stoute.

However High Definition hasn’t got his head in front since an unbeaten juvenile career and was well beaten behind Alpinista in last month’s Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud on his last start.

Aikhal, a Group 3 winner on Irish Derby day at the Curragh is O’Brien’s hope in Wednesday’s Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes.

He is one of half a dozen left in the traditional St Leger trial after Monday’s final declarations which also includes the Godolphin pair, Walk Of Stars and Secret State.

Another Irish hope on day one of York is Michael O’Callaghan’s Windsor winner Indestructible who takes his chance in the Group Three Acomb Stakes.

Thursday’s Ebor festival feature will be the Yorkshire Oaks where the Ballydoyle filly Tuesday could feature among a notably strong Irish challenge.

The prolific Group One winner Alpinista tops the betting ahead of a number of Irish hopefuls including Jessica Harrington’s Irish Oaks winner Magical Lagoon and Paddy Twomey’s Pretty Polly heroine, La Petite Coco.

Aidan O’Brien has won the Yorkshire Oaks for the last two years with Snowfall and Love who earlier in the season landed the Oaks at Epsom. Tuesday is a general 4-1 shot to pull off the same double.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column