Ghaiyyath powered away from Group One and Classic-winning opponents in what is now a familiar fashion here on Wednesday to take the Juddmonte International Stakes by three lengths and confirm himself a leading contender for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October.
William Buick kicked several lengths clear of his main rivals within a few strides and while his lead was cut to two lengths halfway down the straight, there was never any sense of a serious threat to Ghaiyyath’s domination of the race. He was going away from his field again at the line, where the 11-8 favourite was three lengths in front of Magical with Lord North another one-and-a-quarter away in third. Kameko, the 2,000 Guineas winner at Newmarket in June, could finish only fourth.
Ghaiyyath’s ability to maintain a strong gallop the stalls to the winning post has now proved decisive in three Group Ones this summer, and while he failed miserably to execute the same plan in last year’s Arc, Charlie Appleby’s five-year-old looks like the finished article this season.
“To have a horse like that on our hands is an honour,” Appleby said afterwards. “[It was] a fantastic ride by William [and] a nice race to watch. He got into a lovely rhythm and I knew coming up the straight, once I saw William gather him up and change his hands, I was confident that he would gallop on strongly to the line.”
Ghaiyyath is now a 6-1 chance for the Arc behind Love, who runs in the Yorkshire Oaks on the Knavesmire on Thursday, and Enable, the winner of the race in 2017 and 2018, who are both 3-1 shots. He is also the 5-2 joint-favourite for the Champion Stakes at Ascot in mid-October alongside John Gosden’s Mishriff, the French Derby winner.
Earlier, Pyledriver delivered a power-packed performance to register his second Group Two triumph in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes. The King Edward VII Stakes winner put an unfortunate run in the Derby behind him to show his true his colours in terrific fashion and strike for trainer William Muir and jockey Martin Dwyer, his son-in-law.
Subjectivist set the pace with Berkshire Rocco and Roberto Escobarr close up and Pyledriver towards the rear. The pack opened up in the straight, with every one of the eight runners having a chance until Pyledriver saunted through on the far side of the track to make his bid.
Once Pyledriver (10-1) hit the front, the race was as good as over, despite having a 3lb penalty for his Royal Ascot success. Highland Chief (11-1) was three and a half lengths back in second place with Mogul (85-40 favourite) half a length away in third. Pyledriver was quoted at 8-1 with Betway to win the St Leger at Doncaster next month and was slashed to 6-1 from 16-1 with Betway and Paddy Power.
Muir said: “He’s one of the best horses I’ve trained. Averti was beaten a head in a Nunthorpe, Stepper Point was beaten half a length in the Nunthorpe. This horse needs to win a Group One to be the best, but he could well get there.
“It was a good race today. I can understand Mogul was such a short price and we were such a big price, but if we’d had a clear run in the Derby, we’d have finished in front of him. Our race was gone after three furlongs. He’s a big, unfurnished horse, but he’s getting there. He’s so easy to do anything with and he thinks life’s great.
“I thought we’d win. I got told off by my wife last night as when I’m being so bullish she says ‘I hope you’re right, keep your mouth shut!’. We’ll go back and talk. We are in the Grand Prix de Paris. The Leger has been on the cards, but people are saying we should now go for the Arc.
“He didn’t look like he was stopping today, but then Martin said today he’s got loads of gears, and horses with gears normally don’t just stay and stay. It’s a lovely problem to have – this is where we want to be.”
Oliver Cole, who trains Highland Chief in partnership with his father Paul, indicated the St Leger could be an option next month for their charge. He said: “I think the ground was OK for him, we were hoping for softer ground which is what he won on at Ascot.
“It’s a difficult race to read, he’s beaten Mogul. I think he’s got a better turn of foot than he showed there, but he didn’t quicken as well as I expected him to. We could think about the St Leger, but it could depend if the winner goes to the Leger! Maybe, we’ll have to have a think, but he’s run his heart out.”