Juddmonte International preview

Highland Reel
(Healy Racing Photos) Aidan O'Brien has won the Juddmonte International on no less than five occasions and fires a twin assault at York's Group One showpiece on Wednesday.

O'Brien, who was last successful with dual Derby hero Australia in 2014, saddles King George hero Highland Reel and the fourth from Ascot, Sir Isaac Newton.

"Highland Reel is in in good form and we've been very happy with him since Ascot," said the Ballydoyle handler.

"Sir Isaac Newton is a horse that we think is still progressing.

"He had a lovely run in the King George and we've been happy with him since."

Roger Varian is confident Postponed is back firing on all cylinders ahead of his return to action on the Knavesmire.

Winner of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last summer, when trained by Luca Cumani, the five-year-old was subsequently moved across Newmarket with the rest of owner Sheikh Obaid's string to Roger Varian's stable.

Back-to-back victories at the Dubai Carnival saw him make a flying start for his new handler and he looked well positioned to dominate the mile-and-a-half division this summer after a spectacular return to Britain in the Coronation Cup at Epsom in early June.

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However, he was unable to defend his King George crown after suffering a respiratory infection, a condition which also affected several of his stable companions.

Consequently, Varian has so far saddled just 10 runners in August compared to 68 in 2015.

"Half the battle is recognising it and not doing too much with the horses if they are slightly under the weather," Varian said.

"We've been cautious with what we have run but we managed to get a nice winner at Doncaster on Saturday and hopefully we are close to hitting form again.

"Horses are no different to people, in that one person might take longer to get over an illness than another living next door.

"Postponed is a big five-year-old with a good constitution and he looks to have recovered quicker than some.

"He's in his prime and one of the best around."

Postponed will be bidding for a first Group One victory over a mile and a quarter, something which would significantly boost his commercial value as a potential stallion.

Varian does not feel the drop in distance will be a major issue.

He added: "This year he has travelled very strongly in his races and, most importantly, Andrea (Atzeni), who gets a number one feel of the horse, thinks he will handle himself down in trip very comfortably."

One horse with no questions to answer regarding the distance is Godolphin's Hawkbill, who is unbeaten in three starts over a mile and a quarter this season.

He completed his hat-trick with a narrow verdict over subsequent Sussex Stakes winner The Gurkha in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Godolphin racing manager John Ferguson said: "The great thing about it is it's a mile and a quarter, which we know he loves."

Read More at Irishracing.com

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