James Doyle hails Poet's Word before International showdown

James Doyle is confident Poet's Word can deliver a Group 1 hat-trick in Wednesday's Juddmonte International at York, hailing the Sir Michael Stoute-trained 7-4 favourite as the toughest horse he has ridden.

Poet's Word and James Doyle at Ascot, photo Liesl King

Poet's Word comes to the race off the back of a hard-fought win over stablemate Crystal Ocean in the King George at Ascot, having previously landed the Prince of Wales's Stakes at the royal meeting.

"We saw how tough he is in the King George – he's a real warrior – and he's very versatile trip-wise," said Doyle.

“He’s as tough a horse as I’ve ever ridden – he doesn’t shirk the issue. He really put his head and neck down in the King George and stretched all the way to the line. He was very brave.

"One of his main attributes is his strong cruising speed and he picks up off it, like the good horses do. His temperament is another massive asset too, as he's so chilled in his races and so straightforward to ride.

"We saw how well he stays in the King George, but his mile-and-a-quarter form is very strong too, as I was second on him in an Irish Champion Stakes besides winning the Prince of Wales's on him at the trip."

In a top-class renewal Poet's Word will face Eclipse Stakes first and second Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior, St James's Palace winner Without Parole, Irish Derby scorer Latrobe, Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow and stablemate Benbatl, and supplementary entry Thundering Blue, the only horse yet to win at Group 1 level.

Doyle remains confident, saying: "It's obviously a strong race, with Saxon Warrior, Roaring Lion and Latrobe probably the main dangers, but he's favourite and I think he deserves to be on what he's done on his last two starts at Ascot."

Doyle also rides the 6-4 favourite for Thursday's Darley Yorkshire Oaks, the William Haggas-trained Sea Of Class, on whom he won the Irish Oaks last month – one of five Group 1s the high-flying rider has picked up this year.

He said: "Sea Of Class was fantastic over in Ireland. I think there are three Oaks winners in the race, so it's obviously very strong, but she's favourite as well and I think she deserves it too.

"I haven't sat on her since the Curragh, but I know [work rider and former jockey] Michael Tebbutt has been very happy with her at home. It will be interesting to see if she's improved again, because she's come a long way in a short period of time and she's still very lightly raced and unexposed."

Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow will return to turf for the first time in ten months in Wednesday's International with an even more ambitious tilt at the Breeders' Cup Classic ahead.

The Godolphin-owned colt, who has not raced since his outstanding victory by five and three-quarter lengths at Meydan in March, will line up in an eight-strong field for the Ebor festival's showpiece race.

Thunder Snow's last race on turf ended in defeat in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at the end of a season in which he contested the Kentucky Derby, finished second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and won the Prix Jean Prat.

"After the World Cup he had had two runs in a very short time, so we decided to give him a break as his target is the Breeders' Cup Classic," said the colt's trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor. "He'll go for that race after the Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 29.

"Before that he needs a race, so we're running him in the Juddmonte International. He has been working well and Oisin Murphy has been pleased with him but he will improve for the race. This race is to set him up to run at the Breeders' Cup, but the big test will be back on dirt over a mile and a quarter at Belmont."

Thunder Snow will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon with Jim Crowley aboard stablemate Benbatl, who won the Dubai Turf on World Cup night and added a Group 1 in Germany last month. Murphy is committed to Eclipse winner Roaring Lion.

"Benbatl has won Group 1 races in Dubai and Germany," said the trainer. "Oisin Murphy rode him last week as well and three days ago he had a blowout. The trip will suit and if the ground is good that will suit him really well too."