In a season where leading lights have been few and far between, the Juddmonte International has the potential to be one of the best races this year, says Alan Conway from the Betfair Exchange racing team...
"While the 2018 Juddmonte International may not have the star power of a Frankel or a Sea The Stars, it promises to be a fascinating edition and Poet's Word can have the final word and add to his Group 1 haul."
All three main protagonists stand their ground, with the King George winner Poet's Word taking on the Eclipse champion Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior, victorious in the 2000 Guineas. But that's not all. They are joined by Without Parole, Latrobe and Thunder Snow, all who have been victorious in various Group 1 races. This race is dripping with quality right through the eight declared runners.
Having seen off his stablemate Crystal Ocean in a titanic battle in the King George last time out, Poet's Words sits atop the betting at 2.767/4 for the 1m 2f Group 1 contest which has been won by some of the all-time greats of the turf.
The son of Poet's Voice has risen through the grades as is typical of one trained by Sir Michael Stoute. He downed Cracksman over the International distance in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot under a supremely confident ride by James Doyle and backed that up at the same venue with a gutsy display in the King George.
While Poet's Words is deservedly favourite, if he is to claim his third Group 1 on the spin he will have to down a pair of high class three-year olds that will be looking to enhance and redeem their reputations respectively.
Hear me roar
Roaring Lion silenced many a critic last time out with a game win the Eclipse Stakes where he travelled like a dream, battled hard and fought off a persistent challenge from Saxon Warrior, who only ran in the Irish Derby seven days previously.
That win gave the son of Kitten's Joy his first success in Group 1 company and was rewarding for a horse that has been on the go since mid-April and ran respectable races in both the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby.
Having landed the Dante over track and trip in early May, Roaring Lion is well suited to York, with its long straight allowing him to travel with ease and use his finishing kick to devastating effect.
Looking at the Juddmonte, one can imagine Roaring Lion travelling equally as well as Poet's Word and will likely trade short in-running, however one must wonder if he will have the ability to get past the favourite, a horse that looks right on top of his game.
Warrior or Worrier?
While Roaring Lion is looking to cement his hard-fought reputation at 3.412/5, the horse that was right on his tail at Sandown, Saxon Warrior is looking to claw back his reputation and rescue a season that had looked so promising a few short months ago.
After his smooth 2000 Guineas success the world looked to be at Saxon Warrior's hooves. Yet after defeats in the Derby, Irish Derby and Eclipse, the son of Deep Impact has a reputation to restore this week and it will be intriguing to see if he can get his season back on track.
Having failed to see out the 1m 4f at both Epsom and the Curragh, it may well be that Saxon Warrior will be best at 10f. If he missed the Irish Derby and went to the Eclipse a fresher horse, would the outcome have been any different?
He travelled with a lot of class and style at Sandown. If he has overcome the lingering effects of the sickness that played with the Aidan O'Brien string throughout the summer months then he will be a major player, however after three defeats and with fitness questions to answer, he is perhaps best watched on Wednesday afternoon.
The Irish Derby winner Latrobe and the John Gosden trained Without Parole are both intriguing contenders with the latter having to bounce back from a below-par effort in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last time out while Thunder Snow, representing Godolphin will have to put in a monstrous effort if he is to be involved in the shakeup having not raced since the end of March.
While the 2018 Juddmonte International may not have the star power of a Frankel or a Sea The Stars, it promises to be a fascinating edition and Poet's Word can have the final word and add to his Group 1 haul. A race not to be missed.
Back Poet's Word @ 2.767/4
Lay Saxon Warrior @ 6.86/1