Why the Juddmonte International Stakes Is One of the Summer's Great Horse Races

Published 2021/08/13

Why the Juddmonte International Stakes Is One of the Summer's Great Horse Races

The summer flat racing season continues with the much-anticipated Ebor Festival at York racecourse. The four-day meeting has been held since 1843 and welcomes more than 350,000 visitors each year. It is the second-richest fixture (behind only Royal Ascot) in the flat racing calendar with more than £2m in prize money awarded each year. The festival features 28 races but the Juddmonte International Stakes stands out as the showpiece event.

Juddmonte International Stakes

The Juddmonte International Stakes was only added to the festival line-up in 1972 but has grown to become York racecourse’s richest event. It has changed names over the years due to sponsorship reasons but has been known by its current name since 1989. It is the first race that most punters look out for when the York races odds are released in the weeks leading up to the festival.

Legendary Performances

The race gained notoriety in 1974 and 1975 when the legendary American-bred thoroughbred Dahlia won back-to-back races under the guidance of jockey Lester Piggott. That feat was not matched until nearly two decades later when Ezzoud landed consecutive victories in 1993 (off a price of 28/1) and 1994.

The Juddmonte International Stakes was one of six Group 1 races won by Sea the Stars in 2009. The Irish champion also landed the 2000 Guineas, Derby, Eclipse Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe to complete a historic season of flat racing. The stallion is still regarded as one of the greatest racehorses of all time, winning eight of his nine races before his retirement in October 2009. He remains the only horse to have won the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in the same year.

Another legendary horse to triumph at the Juddmonte International Stakes was Frankel. His seven-length victory against a strong field back in 2012 is rated as one of his greatest ever rides, alongside his performance in the 2000 Guineas, and formed part of a 14-race unbeaten career. According to the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings Committee, Frankel has the highest rating (140) of any horse since the system was introduced in 1977.

Leading Trainer out to Make History

Aidan O'Brien could make history this year by becoming the first trainer to land six winners at the Juddmonte International Stakes. He is currently tied with Sir Michael Stoute on five wins and has this year’s favourite, St Mark's Basilica, in his stable. The three-year-old arrives on the back of four straight wins. O'Brien first triumphed with Giant's Causeway back in 2000, while his latest victory came via Japan in 2019.

There is also a possibility that top jockey Frankie Dettori could land a record sixth winner in this race. The Italian is level on five wins with Lester Piggott but has not won here since 2007. He’ll hope to end that barren spell with the help of the highly-rated Palace Pier who has won eight of his nine starts so far including this year’s Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

With so much at stake, the 2021 Juddmonte International Stakes at the York Ebor Festival is definitely a race not to be missed.