A determined Twice Over outlasted a stubborn Midday to claim victory in the $1,092,000 Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) at York Aug. 17. The International was the highlight on the first day of York’s Ebor Festival, a four-day meeting that lasts through Saturday.
The 6-year-old son of Observatory, who like Midday is trained by Sir Henry Cecil, provided owner-breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah with his first victory in the race, which has been sponsored by Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farm since 1989.
A small but quality field went to the post for the International, which dwindled to five runners after the early morning withdrawal of Roderic O'Connor by trainer Aidan O’Brien. The field was headlined by the Juddmonte pair of Midday and Twice Over.
Midday, who captured the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) in her last start, was facing males for the second time this season. The daughter of Oasis Dream had previously finished second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Investec Coronation Stakes (Eng-I) in June.
Twice Over, who had turned in a pair of lackluster performances since returning from Dubai in March, finally found the winner’s circle last time out, rolling to a 1 1/4-length win in the Sky Bet York Stakes (Eng-II) over this same course and distance. He would be partnered this time by jockey Ian Mongan, with Tom Queally riding Midday.
The main threat to the Juddmonte duo came in the form of Await The Dawn, an up-and-coming son of Giant's Causeway trained by Aidan O’Brien. The 4-year-old colt entered the International riding a four-race winning streak, most recently recording an impressive three-length victory in the Hardwicke Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot.
At the start it was Windsor Palace, entered as a pacemaker for Await The Dawn, who shot to the front under Seamie Heffernan to set the pace. The outsider sprinted to the lead and opened up several lengths on the rest of the runners, which were more than happy to let him show the way through the early stages of the 10-furlong contest.
Await The Dawn, racing well in-hand for jockey Joseph O’Brien, tracked his stablemate from second. He was followed closely by Midday and Twice Over, as longshot Zafisio trailed the field.
Windsor Palace began to fade two furlongs from home and was quickly enveloped by the rest of the field. Await The Dawn, flanked by the Juddmonte pair, took a short lead as the three runners began to open up on the rest of the field.
With a furlong left to run, O’Brien asked his mount for more but there was little response from the colt, as Midday powered past and took the lead. Once in front Midday began to hang to her left, despite the efforts of Queally. This allowed Twice Over to draw on even terms with his stablemate, and the pair fought it out to the wire.
In the end it was Twice Over holding off Midday by three-quarters of a length. Await The Dawn held on for third place, five lengths further back.
The final time for the 10.4 furlongs was 2:14.70 over a course rated as good to soft.
After the race, Mongan, who had recorded the biggest victory of his career in the International, told reporters, “It’s really special. I would like to thank the Prince (Khalid Abdullah) and Sir Henry for putting faith in me because this is as good as it gets.”
Cecil heaped praise upon Mongan stating, “I’ve always thought a lot of him. He’s my second jockey and is very underrated. He’s a very good jockey and if he got better rides he’d be right in the top flight. I’m so pleased for him, he really deserved it.”
Both Twice Over and Midday may face each other again in the Champion Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot Oct. 15. Cecil stated, “I think definitely (Twice Over will run at Ascot); maybe Midday--if the ground was right--would go too.”
Cecil added, “If the ground had been faster today, I think Midday would have given Twice Over more of a race.”
Twice Over was bred in England and is out of Double Crossed, by Caerleon. Double Crossed is a stakes- winning half sister to Clepsydra, the dam of group I stakes winners Passage Of Time and Timepiece.