Breeders’ Cup Staff Release ― Paddington (GB), unbeaten in six starts this year, faces the stiffest test of his remarkable career to date as he lines up against three rivals in Wednesday’s Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York. The winner of the 1 1/4-mile showpiece is guaranteed an automatic starting position in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 80 Graded/Group stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
Paddington has captured the imagination of horse racing fans in 2023. From the humble beginnings of a Handicap at Naas back in March, the son of Siyouni (FR) has climbed the ranks to become the best 3-year-old colt in Europe, according to The Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings. His latest win in the Qatar Sussex Stakes (G1), for owners Tabor, Smith, Magnier, Westerberg, and Brant, was his sixth of the season and fourth at the highest level. The victory gave him an automatic starting position and fees paid into the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien – who won this race in 2000 with Giant’s Causeway and in 2013 with Declaration Of War, both of whom went on to second- and third-place finishes, respectively, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic – hinted after the Sussex Stakes that they believe Paddington has the qualities of a Breeders’ Cup Classic contender.
“He’s an amazing horse really and is progressing from run to run; that’s all he has done all year,” O’Brien said. “John (Magnier) always felt that on pedigree he would get a mile and a half. He went to the Coral-Eclipse for his first run over a mile and a quarter, so this is a little bit further on a flatter track. It will be interesting to see and we’ll take it race by race with him at the moment.”
Shadwell Estate Company Limited’s Mostahdaf (IRE) will be ridden by Frankie Dettori for the first time, with regular rider Jim Crowley currently serving a 20-day ban for his winning ride aboard Hukum (IRE) in last month’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (G1). The John & Thady Gosden-trained 5-year-old posted a career-best when winning the June 21 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot in his last start, earning an automatic berth into the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
The Gosdens are also represented by three-time group 1 winner Nashwa (GB). The 4-year-old filly by Frankel (GB) was an impressive winner of the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes (G1) over 1 mile on July 14, but was only third when attempting a repeat win in the Qatar Nassau Stakes (G1) at Goodwood last time. This will be her first start in open company at the stakes level.
Completing the four-runner field, the smallest line-up since 2009, is the Andrew Balding-trained 3-year-old colt The Foxes (IRE). The son of Churchill (IRE) finished second, 1 length behind Far Bridge in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park in his last start. Earlier in the season he won the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (G2) over the same course and distance as Wednesday’s race before finishing fifth in the Betfred Derby (G1) at Epsom.