It wasn’t to be for Alcohol Free in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York but all credit to connections for taking the brave route.
In a world where there are a multitude of options for smart horses, it is a rarity that we get to see a multiple Group 1 winner running in a race as good as the Juddmonte International despite the grave doubts about her ability to see out an extended mile-and-a-quarter.
Few connections would even entertain the idea of stretching out a filly like Alcohol Free beyond a mile, a trip that seems to suit her so well.
Half a million pounds of prize money is not to be sniffed at, especially when a trainers’ championship is potentially at stake for Andrew Balding, and connections are right to say that this three-time Group 1-winning filly owes them nothing.
Still, dragging a filly out over a trip much longer than she is used to running over can have repercussions so it’s a gamble irrespective of what she has achieved so far.
There are several Group 1 races, notably the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, the Sun Cariot Stakes, the Fillies’ Mile and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, that Alcohol Free could be targeted at, any of which provide her with more realistic win opportunities, albeit for lesser prize money.
So, for all that Alcohol Free might owe connections nothing, there was significant risk involved with sending her to York. Thankfully, Oisin Murphy wasn't too hard on the 3-year-old once her chance was gone, so it is to be hoped that she will come out of the race in good order and can show her best form in one of those more suitable contests.
She will at least have good prospects of getting some ease in the ground, which she seems to appreciate, in the autumn so don't be surprised if she bounces back and adds a fourth top-flight contest to her CV.
Mishriff Can Be A Breeders’ Cup Star
One of the strangest aspects of racing is the obsession of the media with the future. The one question that winning connections are guaranteed to be asked after the race is: ‘where will he/she go next?’
Mishriff absolutely bolted up in the Juddmonte International, arguably posting one of the most impressive performances in the race of recent years.
The globetrotting son of Make Believe is perfectly suited by the characteristics of the International, primarily the extended mile-and-a-quarter on a flat track, but that would imply that he’s not versatile enough to win races under different conditions, which we all know is nonsense.
When it comes to versatility, Mishriff is arguably one of the greatest and that in itself means connections have a plethora of autumn options for the 4-year-old.
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After he crossed the line six lengths in front of Alenquer, Mishriff was slashed into 7/4 for the Qipco Champion Stakes, although he was nowhere near his best in that contest in 2020 and connections will surely be tempted to swerve Ascot this time if the ground once again comes up soft.
There are other options, notably the Irish Champion Stakes, but connections could well be tempted into giving him a break before revving him up for a trip to the Breeders' Cup at Del Mar.
Mishriff heads ante-post lists (5/1) for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, which looks a really good spot for him, but connections might just be tempted to have a crack at the Breeders’ Cup Classic which would potentially throw up a fascinating clash with top US dirt performer Knicks Go.
Eight lengths separated the pair when Mishriff plundered the Saudi Cup earlier this year but Knicks Go looked better than ever in Saratoga’s Whitney Stakes this month and a clash between him and Mishriff could lead to one hell of a showdown on the biggest stage of all.
Whether it’s the Classic or the Turf, Mishriff looks ready to take the USA by storm.
It’s Time To Give Up On High Definition
There is still potential for this to look complete rubbish but, after a third successive defeat of the season, it’s time to file High Definition away in the ‘hugely overrated’ category.
The one-time Derby favourite trailed in a well beaten sixth in Wednesday’s Great Voltigeur Stakes and it’s going to take one hell of a turnaround if Aidan O’Brien is going to get this horse to win a Group 1 race.
Despite being beaten in the Dante Stakes back in May, the son of Galileo shaped with a good deal of promise from off the pace that day but the wheels came well and truly off when he was sent off favourite for the Irish Derby.
Clipping heels and stumbling early on is a genuine excuse for that disappointing run but connections have no such cushion to fall back on this time.
He went into the Voltigeur as a potential Leger contender but, despite going off a 7/2 market leader, left it as a horse that might struggle to ever win in group company again.
St Leger clues are normally plentiful in the Voltigeur but it’s hard to go overboard about this year’s contest given the already-gelded winner isn’t even eligible to run in the Classic.
The Mediterranean, a stablemate of High Definition, shaped well enough in second and was shortened quite significantly by the layers for Doncaster but he was thrashed by Hurricane Lane in France and doesn’t look classy enough to win at Group 1 level.