I used to look forward to this race in my younger days more than any other race in the calendar after that epic duel between Grundy and Bustino in 1975 in what has been rightly called the greatest horse race of all time, .

Its a truly unique race which until recently brought together the 3 y old Derby winners against their elders and decided the top rated horse for that particular year, along with the Prix de L’arc de Triomphe winner. However, with the advent of more money being available nowadays at the end of the year, especially Internationally, the 3 y olds have tended to swerve the race in favour of those rich pickings and prestige.

This year’s renewal is particularly strong, much more so than in recent times with last year’s hero Nathanial , St Nicholas Abbey [whom he beat last year] Danedream [Arc winner], Sea Moon and Deep Brilliante [3 y old Japanese Derby winner],and Reliable Man [French Derby winner last year and maybe most significant of all Dunaden [Melbourne Cup winner last November,plus several more.

Nathanial : Won this well last year and is recent winner of the Eclipse at Sandown and is 2/3 at this course ,his only loss being to the high class Cirrus des Aigles over too short a trip . He is near the top of the market  but only 2 horses have repeat wins in this race and he faces his toughest ever opponents plus he is coming off a really hard race 2 weeks ago in the Eclipse. One could also argue he was gifted last years race ,kicking off a slow pace and with St Nicholas Abbey running below par and Rewilding suffering a fatal injury, he did not have much to beat.  I am opposing him.

St Nicholas Abbey : High class winner of Racing Post Trophy at 2 and after a few hiccups has shown serious Group 1 form winning 2 Coronation Cups ,a Breeders Cup win over Sea Moon and a close 2nd to Cirrus des Aigles in the Sheema Classic in Meydan. He loves a strong pace to run and has a huge finishing kick. However ,since his 2 y old days [won 2 races at right handed Curragh] all his best form is on left handed tracks,he has raced 5 times right handed and won none and seemingly running well below form and 1  of those runs was here at Ascot in this race last year. Maybe I am wrong but the percentage call is to oppose him, so I am opposing him.

Sea Moon : Seems on the improve after huge win in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot where he showed a decent turn of foot one out to steal the race from a hugely unlucky in running Dunaden. Sea Moon is a genuine Group 2 horse winning 5 /8 races and  unlucky in Gp 1 St Leger but readily outspeeded by St Nicholas Abbey in the Grade 1 Breeders Cup. He just might need to be fresh also and he is not here so, I am opposing him also.

Reliable Man : French Derby winner last year and still lightly raced, stayed on well behind So You Think at Royal Ascot in Prince of Wales Gp 1 but I thought he was not really looking like a big Group one horse to me as he passed the line and in my opinion this is the toughest race he has faced yet. I am opposing him.
Deep Brilliante : when the Japanese send a horse to Europe you can be sure it will be well prepared and is a genuine Group 1 horse ,this horse has always placed in his 6 runs to date in his homeland ,culminating with a nose win in their Derby .Needs fast ground which he will not get here so on that note I will oppose him.

Dunaden : What a seriously brilliant horse he is placing in 13 /14 starts winning the Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase last year. Late improver having raced in the provinces in France initially to becoming one of the World’s best middle distance/staying  horses now. He was surely the victim of one of the worst rides ever in a Group 1 last time out at Ascot behind Sea Moon where Christoph Lemaire [jockey] seemed to be in another world for most of the race,he gradually allowed Dunaden to lose his pitch even though he was travelling superbly and somehow found himself almost last before the turn into the home straight .

At this point Ryan Moore had kicked 8 lengths ahead of Dunaden while Lemaire still having a ‘mare’ found himself bottled up with nowhere to go.When eventually seeing daylight Dunaden flew home but it was all too late,he did narrow the defecit to 3 and a quarter lengths though and was full of run at the line.There is no doubt in my mind at all but Dunaden would have won given anything like a clear passage and must be rated a most unlucky loser. I see no reason at all why Dunaden wont finish in front of Sea Moon here.

Current odds with Paddy Power :

St Nicholas Abbey  11/4
Sea Moon                11/4
Nathanial                11/4
Dunaden                 5/1
Danedream             8/1
Deep Brilliante        14/1
Reliable Man          16/1
20/1 bar.

Summary : In what is surely the race of the season thus far I think the race will pan out like this , O’Briens pacemakers will try and set it up for St Nicholas Abbey  ,with Nathanial  also pressing the lead with Sea Moon  not that far away, followed by Dunaden,  and Deep Brilliante , Danedream  and St Nicholas waiting last to pounce.  I  expect Dunaden to make a decisive move just after the home turn and get first run on those behind and win and maybe we will all be thinking of Grundy and Bustino again Saturday evening.

Selection : 2 pts win Dunaden 5/1 with Paddy Power.


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