April 16, 2024

Mostahdaf topples odds-on Paddington in Juddmonte International

Mostahdaf wins the 2023 Juddmonte International (Photo courtesy of Breeders' Cup/Eclipse Sportswire)

Under a masterful, front-running ride by Frankie Dettori, Mostahdaf toppled the heavily-favored Paddington to claim the Juddmonte International (G1) at York on Wednesday by one length.

A dominating winner of the Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot in his previous start, Mostahdaf was sent off as the second choice as the only older male in the field of four. Dettori was filling in for Mostahdaf’s regular rider, Jim Crowley, who is currently serving a suspension.

After setting a strong gallop over the good-to-firm ground, Mostahdaf found more in reserve during the latter stages to not only repel the odds-on Paddington, who entered the International having won four Group 1s in a row, but also his four-year-old filly stablemate Nashwa, who ultimately edged Paddington for second by a neck. The Foxes trailed throughout.

A homebred racing for Shadwell and trained by John and Thady Gosden, Mostahdaf returned $8.40 in the World Pool after completing about 1 1/4 miles in 2:06.40.

“We knew if we stood any chance of beating Paddington, we had to do something different rather than let him have his own way out in front again,” Shadwell Racing Manager Angus Gold said. “Frankie proved a good substitute to have on the day. We weren’t too worried changing tack because this horse has won over a mile and a half, as long as Frankie got the pace right.”

This was a record-breaking sixth win in the International for Dettori, who long ago announced he would retire from the saddle at the end of this year. He had jointly held the International record with the late Lester Piggott for 16 years. Dettori’s previous International winners were Halling (1996), Singspiel (1997), Sakhee (2001), Sulamani (2004), and Authorized (2007).

A five-year-old son of the undefeated 2012 International winner Frankel, the Irish-bred Mostahdaf has now won 10 of 16 starts. His previous Group wins include the Darley (G3) and September (G3) in 2021, the Gordon Richards (G3) in 2022, and the Neom Turf Cup (G3) in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

The International was a Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the Classic (G1) at Santa Anita in November, but it appears unlikely Mostahdaf would revert to dirt. The Champion (G1) at Ascot on Oct. 21 is more likely to be a season-ending goal, with a potential race in between.

“The Irish Champion (G1) has to be a possibility, but I always like to get home and make a decision after 10 days,” John Gosden said. “Some are trying to persuade me to run him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on the dirt, but I don’t know about that.”