Might Gleneagles go for a 'Golden' clash in the Juddmonte?
Thanks to the prevailing soft going at Goodwood, star three-year-old miler Gleneagles will miss his hotly anticipated clash with Solow in Wednesday's Sussex (G1). Although we won't enjoy another "Duel on the Downs" (as the past clashes of Frankel vs. Canford Cliffs and Kingman vs Toronado have been billed), maybe this opens the door to a different showdown. Might the Coolmore brain trust be tempted to challenge Golden Horn in the August 19 Juddmonte International (G1) at York?
I'd vote to try Gleneagles over that 10 1/2-furlong trip, where he's literally got nothing to lose. Aidan O'Brien has described him as the best miler he's had, but his engagements imply that he shouldn't be typecast. Connections must have been at least considering a step up in distance by giving him entries in the Epsom Derby (G1), the French Derby (G1), the Irish Champion (G1) -- and the Juddmonte itself.
Indeed, after Gleneagles sprang a classic double in Newmarket's 2000 Guineas (G1) and the Irish Guineas (G1) at the Curragh, speculation swirled that he could wheel back at Epsom. The "lads" decided instead to keep him to a mile for the St James's Palace (G1) at Royal Ascot, where he confirmed his status as the top miler of his generation.
Gleneagles has yet to face older horses, so on one level, it would make sense to take up his engagement in the August 16 Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) over a mile at Deauville.
Yet the fact that the other star three-year-old, unbeaten Derby and Eclipse (G1) winner Golden Horn, has been rerouted to the Juddmonte, must make that spot more enticing from Coolmore's perspective. Golden Horn and Gleneagles have been on different career paths thus far. By landing the Epsom classic and downing The Grey Gatsby in the Eclipse, Golden Horn has garnered rave reviews. Wouldn't Coolmore absolutely jump at the chance to sink Golden Horn with one of their own? Gleneagles is the only plausible candidate to attempt it.
And even if Gleneagles loses, he's lost no caste in defeat. Connections can chalk it up to the distance, and he remains a dual classic-winning miler who can drop back in trip.
Remember that O'Brien nearly upset the great Sea the Stars with Mastercraftsman, another miler, in the 2009 Juddmonte. Although not as dynamic as Gleneagles, Mastercraftsman was an Irish Guineas and St James's Palace winner stretching out for the first time, and he forced Sea the Stars to dig deep to overhaul him.
On both pedigree and performance, Gleneagles has every right to stay. He's by Galileo and out of a full sister to Giant's Causeway, who scored five consecutive Group 1 wins in the 8 to 10-furlong range in the summer of 2000, including the Juddmonte.
O'Brien himself compared Gleneagles to Giant's Causeway after his victory at the Curragh in May (quotes from Ireland's Independent):
You're never sure until you dip them what courage they have and he had to be courageous today. He wanted it. You can't test them for that. Giant's Causeway had that, he was the very same as that.
I always thought he was Giant's Causeway with more speed, that's what I thought and today he showed he has that pure Giant's Causeway courage.
To win a Curragh Guineas on slow ground you usually have to get a mile and quarter, so he obviously gets it. Whether he just got it on courage today, I don't know, but we know he has lots of speed.
Of course, the state of the ground at York would be all-important. You wouldn't send a fast-ground type past a mile for the first time, against Golden Horn, if the "Knavesmire" is a mire. But if the forecast looks good a few days' out, I'd have to attempt it.
Should Gleneagles add further luster to the Juddmonte, the York showpiece will be a veritable summit of sophomore talent. As if Golden Horn vs. Gleneagles wouldn't be enough, up-and-coming Time Test is also expected. The Roger Charlton pupil looked like a Group 1 performer in the Tercentenary (G3) at Royal Ascot, and he needs a proper class test. A homebred campaigned by race sponsor Juddmonte, he'll get it here.