James Doyle is in the unusual position of trying to beat his main employer in a sensational renewal of the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York tomorrow.
With Frankie Dettori complying with quarantine rules after riding Palace Pier to victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Sunday, Doyle gets the leg up on the John Gosden-trained Lord North in the ten-furlong contest, having partnered the four-year-old to a decisive success in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on his last start.
Standing in their way is Godolphin’s front-running sensation Ghaiyyath, trained by Charlie Appleby, easy winner of the Coronation Cup at Epsom in June before recording a comfortable victory over Enable and Japan in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown the following month.
It’s the stiffest task to date for Sheikh Zayed’s Lord North, having progressed from Cambridgeshire Handicap winner last year to bona fide Group 1 performer, but his rider feels he is up to the job.
Doyle said: “Lord North has come through the handicap ranks, won nicely at Haydock [in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes] on his comeback and showed he had improved for the run at Royal Ascot.
“He relaxed well in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, they went a good pace and he showed a good kick in the straight to win convincingly.
“Ghaiyyath is exceptional. He’s a relentless galloper with a really high cruising speed and he can kick off the front. He’s a strong force to be taking on and a worthy short-priced favourite.
“But my fellow has done nothing wrong. He hasn’t stopped improving and while it’s hard to say a four-length winner of a Prince of Wales’s Stakes is capable of improving again, he’s definitely trained by the right man. He’s a straightforward horse to ride and a pleasure to deal with.”
Kameko, winner of the 2,000 Guineas before enjoying a luckless passage in the Sussex Stakes, and top older filly Magical also provide stern opposition in a race sure to be run at a decent clip on the Knavesmire.
Doyle continued: “Ghaiyyath will roll along in front and Rose Of Kildare will also be to the fore. It won’t be too tactical and will be run at a good tempo.
“If they get a bit of rain in York it won’t pose any problems to Lord North – in fact it will be in his favour.
“The Juddmonte International is one of the best races in Europe. I’ve hit the crossbar a few times – I’ve been runner-up twice, on Poet’s Word and Crystal Ocean, and finished third on Al Kazeem.”
Doyle is also looking forward to some other big rides over the week, notably Khalid Abdullah’s Franconia in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks and Miss Amulet, trained in Ireland by Ken Condon, in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes on Thursday.
“Franconia is a nice ride to pick up,” the rider said. “She has done nothing wrong and it looks like I’m on an improving filly. John [Gosden] runs these horses in these races if he thinks he can win. It will be nice to put on the silks again and hopefully ride them a nice winner.
“I don’t know much about Miss Amulet but she’s a Listed winner and her form has worked out pretty well. She’s only rated a pound below William Haggas’s Sacred, who I’ve ridden before, and she has a bit of experience. With York being a speed-biased track that’s important.”