Hanson: Three-year-olds bear watching in 2021 Juddmonte International
As the summer starts to wind down on the European racing season, it's interesting to note how the classic generation has gotten the better of their elders more than not in the Group 1 weight-for-age clashes of the generations. Winning examples include St Mark's Basilica in the Eclipse (G1), Adayar in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1), Snow Lantern in the Falmouth (G1), Alcohol Free in the Sussex (G1), and Mother Earth in the Prix Rothschild (G1).
The exceptions so far have been in sprints like the July Cup (G1) and Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1), and in the one-mile Prix Jacques le Marois (G1), in which the older Palace Pier just held off the three-year-old Poetic Flare.
Perhaps this trend bodes well for one of the four sophomores in Wednesday's Juddmonte International (G1), though betting favorites Mishriff and Love, both four-year-olds, will take some beating.
Trainer William Haggas has two of the four three-year-olds in the International, with #4 ALENQUER (10-1) the more interesting of the two at a price. Until a week ago or so, the Adlerflug colt had been preparing for a run at next month's St Leger (G1) over 1 3/4 miles. Connections have abandoned those plans and instead will be dropping Alenquer down in distance on Wednesday.
A consistent performer with three wins and two placings in five starts, Alenquer has been a bit of a surprise -- his early double-digit price in the International perhaps a reflection of people thinking he's overachieved. He burst on the scene early this season with a 25-1 upset of the Sandown Classic Trial (G3) over the International's 1 1/4-mile distance, in which he defeated subsequent Epsom Derby (G1) upsetter and King George victor Adayar.
Considered not right to contest Epsom himself, he instead reappeared in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot (G2) and prevailed as the favorite on heavy ground. In his most recent outing, in the Grand Prix de Paris (G1) at Longchamp, Alenquer was taken back early by substitute rider James Doyle, an entirely different trip from one he's used to having. Unable to threaten in the straight, Alenquer wound up losing by more than seven lengths to Hurricane Lane, the Irish Derby (G1) winner.
With Tom Marquand back aboard for the International, Alenquer might get his more preferred stalking trip. While his relative class will be tested, his overall form lines are good and, as noted at the top, three-year-olds have done well in many of Europe's marquee events this summer. At the price, I'm willing to find out whether Alenquer is good enough to join that list.