By Nicholas Godfrey
So you know Ghaiyyath dominated the Juddmonte International with yet another imperious front-running display at York on Wednesday. You’ve probably seen the race – but here’s some other stuff you might like to know.
What’s going on?
Ghaiyyath: Arc ‘has always been in our mind’
Talk of righting last year’s wrong in the Arc was much in the air after Ghaiyyath’s powerful three-length victory over Magical.
However, nothing like a hard and fast plan emerged in the immediate aftermath. Suggestions that 1m2f is the horse’s optimum trip bring the Champion Stakes into the equation, though Charlie Appleby said the Arc “has always been in our mind”.
Bookmaker quotes were floating about for almost everything short of the Champion Hurdle. Ladbrokes, for example, cut the Godolphin horse to 6-1 third favourite for the Arc and 2-1 for the Qipco British Champion Stakes.
They also make him 9-2 for the Breeders’ Cup Turf and 14-1 for the Classic on dirt; the Juddmonte International is a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the latter contest.
William Buick described the Arc as an “interesting target … as long as the ground isn’t bad”.
He added: “Obviously His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Charlie will speak and do whatever is best for the horse.”
Appleby: ‘wrong decision’ in Arc
Charlie Appleby reflected on last year’s Arc disappointment with Ghaiyyath.
He said: “I think everyone will agree that it was very soft ground in the Arc last year and we were drawn out in stall 12, so we wanted to get on the front end because we felt that it was his style.
“I think we all held our hands up and said it was the wrong decision as he was doing far too much and never finished the race off at all. I would probably say it was because his fractions were too strong rather than the ground – he has form on soft going but you can’t argue that he has a lot of G1 form now on a sound surface.”
Breeders’ Cup on agenda – perhaps …
Although the Juddmonte International is a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Ghaiyyath appears unlikely to be asked to try his luck on the American dirt – though, as a son of Dubawi, the surface switch might not be such a scary prospect.
“We always felt that a mile and a half around two turns in the Breeders’ Cup Turf would be his gig,” said Charlie Appleby. “But we are all in the same position in this unprecedented year. We don’t know if we will be able to travel or not.”
Best horse in the world?
Ghaiyyath has often seemed to inspire grudging respect rather than outright admiration. Perhaps no more after such a ruthless effort – and anyway, don’t let Charlie Appleby hear you question his stable star, who has now won four G1s.
“On ratings, Ghaiyyath is the best turf horse in the world,” he said. “This was billed as a small field but a stellar line-up – you have some Classic winners and multiple G1 winners – so the race itself has hopefully proved that we can call him the best mile-and-a-quarter turf horse in the world. I feel he deserves to be up there with the Godolphin greats.”
Buick: ‘This horse can do all the things most horses can’t’
Hardly a surprise, admittedly, but William Buick was full of praise for Ghaiyyath’s “amazing” performance.
“This horse can do all the things most horses can’t,” said the jockey. “His high cruising speed, the way he keeps going and at the business end he has another gear just to finish the race off completely.
“I love him. He’s a high-class horse and he’s now got everything on his CV. He’s beaten the best horses around at this trip.”
Irish Champion for Lord North
John Gosden claimed he was “delighted” with third-placed Lord North, who was “spinning his wheels a little” on the loose ground. The Irish Champion Stakes beckons.
Kameko: “We’ll go back to a mile,” says Balding
Andrew Balding said it looked like Kameko didn’t stay after the 2,000 Guineas winner weakened into fourth of five. Rain-softened ground probably didn’t help, either.
“We’ll go back to a mile,” said Balding. “We’ve got limited options because he wouldn’t want the ground too soft, so we’ll just have to see.”
German G1 winner Aspetar was a non-runner after an abnormal blood test. Trainer Roger Charlton mentioned the Prix Dollar on Arc weekend as a possible target – with the Cox Plate not yet ruled out, always depending on travel restrictions.
Shall we talk about it?
Charlie Appleby (Ghaiyyath’s trainer): “I am delighted with the performance of Ghaiyyath and, most importantly, I am delighted for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and team Godolphin. It is an honour to have a horse like this on our hands and it was a fantastic ride by William.
“The race looked perfect watching it. The one thing we have learned with Ghaiyyath is that he is more manageable through his races. As a three and four-year-old, he was a very enthusiastic runner, so it was always challenging for William to try and contain that energy and use it the right way round. Ghaiyyath was fresh on his first start this year in Dubai, but that was just him wanting to get on with it, and, from the Coronation Cup onwards, William has said how much more manageable he is this year.
“They have allowed William to dictate the fractions that he felt was right for the track today – we know that each track is different – and William got it spot on again. Post-race, we see a different horse in Ghaiyyath because he is not doing it the hard way. It’s lovely to see these big winning margins, like we saw in Germany last year, but it takes its toll. It has been noticeable post-race this year that we have been dealing with a mature horse.
“It is not often that it comes off but the plan from the get-go this year was to aim for the Coronation Cup and we purposely missed the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes to give him that break before the Eclipse and coming on to here. Thankfully, Ghaiyyath has hit every target. It can be challenging at times but he hasn’t let us down at all.”
William Buick (Ghaiyyath’s jockey): “It was a pretty usual race for Ghaiyyath. He just takes a couple of strides to get into his stride and I let him get into his own rhythm where he is comfortable. He was at the head of affairs after half a furlong and I was always very comfortable.
“He likes to race up at the front but that is not to say that he is one-dimensional. The only thing is that there are not many horses that can go with his pace over that trip. He has a much higher cruising speed than a horse that normally runs over that trip and I think you would have to get a miler or even sharper to go with him. He has a hell of a cruising speed, which he sustains and then picks up from. He is able to do things that very few horses can – certainly no horse that I have ever ridden.”
John Gosden (Lord North’s trainer): “He found the ground a little loose – James (Doyle) said when he asked him to quicken he was spinning his wheels a little. It is a little loose out there with the rain on it. He’s finished off well to be third and we’re delighted. The winner is great – if you let him bowl in front you’ll never see him again. We’ll look at the Irish Champion Stakes next with our horse.”
Andrew Balding (Kameko’s trainer): “It looked like he didn’t stay. Oisin (Murphy) felt he travelled into the race really well and just didn’t see it out. We’ll go back to a mile. We’ve got limited options because he wouldn’t want the ground too soft, so we’ll just have to see.”