x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Horse racing: Toronado and Al Kazeem have something to prove

In England, Toronado and Al Kazeem will be out of their comfort zones at Juddmonte International Stakes, reports Geoffrey Riddle.

York, England // Both Al Kazeem and Toronado may no longer be in line for foreign assignments but the clash between the two in the Juddmonte International Stakes here on Wednesday afternoon still promises to have ramifications around the world.

Al Kazeem's run in Wednesday's Group 1 feature has put in jeopardy a cross-Channel foray to Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.

Similarly, Toronado's first appearance since denying Godolphin's Dawn Approach in the Sussex Stakes has most likely prevented Shiekh Joaan's colt from running around two turns on fast going at Santa Anita in November.

The races would seem to suit each horse, while Wednesday's event seems to suit neither perfectly; Al Kazeem would ideally want the ground softer and Toronado is unproven over 10 furlongs.

Whether Toronado becomes the third three year old to prevail in the International in the past decade, or is beaten by his older opponent, Sheikh Joaan has left the future of Toronado in the hands of the trainer Richard Hannon, who has chosen the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions day in October as the ultimate target.

The Sussex eclipse of Dawn Approach propelled Toronado up the world rankings to such an extent that he lines up under Richard Hughes as the highest-rated three-year-old colt in the world.

He is rated behind only the retired Australian mare Black Caviar, the American Horse of the Year Wise Dan and the German horse Novellist, who won the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Toronado shares fourth place in the world rankings with the evergreen Game On Dude, who runs in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Sunday. Al Kazeem, who will be ridden by regular partner James Doyle, is 10th.

According to Timeform, the English ratings service, Toronado trails only to Black Caviar and Wise Dan but would probably need a career-best effort to climb their pecking order.

"To leap-frog Wise Dan on our figures he'll need to prove himself at least as good over 10 furlongs as at a mile," said Pat Jupp, a Timeform handicapper.

"The most likely scenario for that being he defeats an in-form Al Kazeem in comfortable fashion in a good time. But to put that into context only three horses have put up such a performance since 1980; Royal Anthem in 1999, Sakhee in 2001 and Frankel."

Toronado and Al Kazeem are joined in the £750,000 (Dh4.31 million) contest by the Queen Anne Stakes winner Declaration Of War; Hillstar, fourth to Novellist; the Irish Derby victor Trading Leather and Rewarded.

In all three clashes with Dawn Approach this season Toronado was held up by Hughes but in smaller fields in the Craven Stakes, in May, and the Champagne Stakes, last season at Doncaster, Hughes dominated from the front.

"He will be held up in the race but he is tactically versatile," Richard Hannon, Toronado's assistant trainer, said. "He is running in the Juddmonte International because it is worth a lot of money."


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