A small but select field lines up for the 2013 edition of the Juddmonte International at 3.40 tomorrow in York, with just 6 set to face the starter. Considering 8 horses took Frankel on in this last year, its perhaps surprising only 5 are willing to take Al Kazeem on in this. It’s true last years figures were inflated with a few pacemakers. With Toronado declared to run we have an interesting renewal to look forward to.
Al Kazeem has won all 4 of his starts so far in 2013, and after a group 3 win at Sandown to start his season off, he lines up here after wins at the Curragh, Ascot and again at Sandown, all 3 at the top level. It’s pretty obvious he’s a tough, consistent horse but he doesn’t appear to be a superstar, having looked pretty much all out for the last two of those wins, and it’s not as if the horses he’s beating are anything special. He beat Camelot at the Curragh, but any horse with pretensions of winning a top level group 1 like this, should do that. He then beat Mukhadram at Ascot, and that horse would have again chased him home, had he not hampered him when going past at Sandown. Mukhadram is a useful sort, but he made a meal of winning a group 2 since, and beating him a neck, and what would have been about 1 1/2l, doesn’t make you think your dealing with anything overly special.
It was left to another of today’s rivals Declaration of War to chase him home at Sandown, and again beating him 2l is something you’d expect a decent group 1 horse to do. Declaration Of War has got beaten by 5 horses, in 2 runs since that Sandown run. Indeed he finished further behind Toronado at Goodwood over a mile, then Al Kazeem beat him over 10 furlongs. A slight worry for Al Kazeem is that this race seems to be a bit of an afterthought. In the build up to the Eclipse, his trainer Roger Charlton stated that he was going to get a break after that race, and his preference was to bring him back for the Irish Champion, followed by the Arc. Did he get the full break that was intended, and if so is it possible they only decided to run here because the race looked like being easy pickings? If that’s the case he may not quite be at concert pitch yet, and he’ll likely need to be to win.