Sir Henry Cecil’s admirable Twice Over bounced back to form after a couple of lack lustre recent performances, winning the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes in fine style to more than likely book his place in the line up for the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York’s Ebor meeting in mid- August, writes Elliot Slater.
Owned by Prince Khaled Abdullah, whose Juddmonte Farms have sponsored the big York contest for some years although have never managed to win their own race, Twice Over had failed to show his best form since another abortive attempt on the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March when sent off the 2/1 favourite, but he could only manage ninth behind the Japanese-trained winner Victoire Pisa. Subsequent comprehensive defeats in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month led many people to wonder if his star was on the wane, but the six-year-old showed he still has the will to win (if at a slightly lower level), when coming from last to first to win on the Knavesmire, beating Ransom Note by a length-and-a-quarter in a thrilling finish to the York feature. Those following the York Ebor odds should remember this.
Admittedly, Saturday’s success was against horses who wouldn’t be worthy of a place in the ‘International’ field, but the purpose of the exercise was to rebuild Twice Over’s confidence and that is exactly what jockey Tom Queally achieved, riding the dual Champion Stakes winner with plenty of patience before asking him to go about his business and reel in the six horses in front of him.
Cecil, who also has the option of running other Abdullah-owned champions Midday and the mighty Frankel in the International Stakes, saw Twice Over only narrowly fail to land the spoils in 2010 when he was caught close home by the flying Rip Van Winkle in a memorable renewal of the top grade 10-furlong event.