York well-prepared for Golden Horn-Gleneagles clash
Course clerk William Derby expecting good ground for a spectacular showdown
Aidan O’Brien: dual 2000 Guineas hero Gleneagles is scheduled to run in the Juddmonte International. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA
Heeding the recent forecast, William Derby, York’s clerk of the course, allowed the track to dry out over the week to Thursday, producing a surface that was firm in places. Although 14mm of rain had fallen in just 12 hours to mid-afternoon yesterday, that turned the going no softer than “good” in Derby’s estimation, after he walked the circuit.
“I would hope it would be predominately “good” in the morning but we’ll reassess then and see where we are. We’re aiming to produce nice, good to firm, summer ground. ”
There was a certain amount of controversy over the non-appearance of Gleneagles in Glorious Goodwood’s Sussex Stakes last month, when his trainer, Aidan O’Brien, ruled him out two days in advance because of heavy recent rain at the course.
Although Goodwood dried out to “good” going by the time of the race, O’Brien insisted he did not regret that decision, an indication that the Ballydoyle team would prefer proper fast going for their star colt. That will be so much more the case for this step up in distance to 10 furlongs, for which Gleneagles’s stamina is unproven.
Wednesday’s Juddmonte International will feature the first meeting between reigning Guineas and Derby champions at the intermediate distance of 10 furlongs since Rodrigo De Triano, with Lester Piggott aboard, beat Dr Devious in the same York race 23 years ago.
But Derby noted the race’s appeal does not end there.
“We’ve got a local hero and the winner of last year’s Dante Stakes here in The Grey Gatsby. And there’s Criterion from Australia, where he’s won three Grade Ones, lets not forget.”
Ten horses remain in the race after the five-day entry stage, including Dick Doughtywylie, supplemented into the race at a cost of £75,000 to be a pacemaker for Golden Horn.