The Irish angle into the Ebor meeting, Ballydoyle excepted, is a necessarily limited one. Irish trainers simply haven't done well in the better UK races this year. Consider these numbers: as of today, Irish-trained horses have won 24 UK flat races worth £10,000 or more in 2017 with only four of those going to trainers other than Aidan O'Brien, two for Ken Condon, one each for Willie Mullins and Pat Shanahan.
That's well down on previous years with the totals for non-APOB trained Irish winners in the UK through the end of August over the past five seasons being 14, 10, 16, 12 and 6. O'Brien may be having a stellar year, so much so that Bobby Frankel's Group One record is in play, but trainers like Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger certainly aren't and don't seem particularly interested in having runners on the road.
Juddmonte International Stakes - Late Inclusion Cliffs looks the value
So it's in Aidan we trust though it is hard to trust Churchill in Wednesday's featured Juddmonte International Stakes. There are trip and wellbeing concerns with him along with the worry that he peaked early in the season while his trainer's decision to also run Cliffs Of Moher in the race has to be negative.
Barney Roy and Ulysses are obvious alternatives, their one-two finish in the Eclipse about the best 10-furlong form on offer. Barney Roy seems the most likely winner for all that Ulysses seemed to improve again last time in the King George; he likely would have out-battled the winner in a few more strides at Sandown and has the scope to progress again. Ulysses having a hard race at Ascot in the interim is less than ideal too.
That said, the overpriced one could be Cliffs Of Moher around 8.07/1. If the decision to run him is a negative for Churchill then it is a positive for the late addition and his time-figures put him right in the mix here despite his only having five starts. His Derby run was excellent and he can be rated a little better than it as he got stewed up beforehand while it seems significant that he was sent of a Betfair SP of 2.95 in the Eclipse, shorter than both Barney Roy and Ulysses. The Sandown race was a mess from start to finish as he got badly hampered early and seemed not to handle the undulations in the straight. This flat track should be better and he offers at least a little value.
Best of the Rest
The rest of the meeting looks tough. Mirage Dancer could be a sensible each-way pick against Cracksman in the Voltigeur and his efforts on the clock give him every chance. The concern is that the Gosden horse might be craftier at this point with the Stoute runner better in the longer term; all the stereotypes about the trainer focussing on the longer term have some truth to them.
It is hard, if not impossible, to oppose Enable in the Yorkshire Oaks and one could even make the case that she's a fair price at long odds-on as punters overvalue the importance of Taghrooda's defeat in the same race for the same yard back in 2014. Nezwaah is her main danger judging by the betting but her strong-travelling style suggests the 12 furlongs could stretch her while Queen's Trust is hard to trust on overall profile. I am interested to see how Journey fares; her run in the Pretty Polly looks dismal but she was in season afterwards and she beat Queen's Trust handsomely in the Filly and Mare on Champions Day last year. The thing with her is that she is likely being trained with that race in mind again.
In terms of pure ratings, the Nunthorpe might be the race of the week with Lady Aurelia going against Battaash. Marginal preference is for the younger horse, not least because I can see him drifting as punters concentrate on him 'only' winning a Group Two last time. The time-figure he achieved in the King George Stakes was actually better than that achieved by Lady Aurelia at Royal Ascot and her form didn't last beyond that meeting last year.
Back Cliffs Of Moher at 8.07/1 or bigger in the Juddmonte International Stakes