A YEAR after Frankel lit up the Knavesmire with a breathtaking virtuoso turn in the Juddmonte International, this afternoon's edition of York's 10-furlong showpiece promises to be a fascinating edition for completely different reasons.
Trainer Roger Charlton's Al Kazeem, whose graduation to the highest echelon has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the season, heads a stellar cast in his bid for a fourth Group One.
Richard Hannon's Toronado, fresh from finally conquering Dawn Approach in Goodwood's Sussex Stakes, leads the opposition under Richard Hughes. But it's hard to envisage Toronado being so effective over this trip.
Aidan O'Brien saddles Declaration Of War in his quest for a fourth International win.
Slammed by Al Kazeem when a fortuitous second over this distance in the Eclipse, Declaration Of War has since performed solidly in defeat in the Sussex and Jacques Le Marois over a mile.
The four-year-old is a superb horse, but isn't as good as he looked in that Queen Anne rout.
Of more interest is Jim Bolger's Irish Derby hero Trading Leather. Having failed to settle in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Trading Leather kept on for a gallant second to the exciting Novellist, with the reopposing Hillstar back in third.
That was a barnstorming effort, and there is a strong case to be made for him back over 10 furlongs now, as the sensible thing to do might be for Kevin Manning to let him bowl along in front.
With that in mind, at 8/1, Trading Leather is an appealing each-way or forecast option. Still, Al Kazeem is preferred for the win.
Estimate, the Queen's Gold Cup winner, will miss the Weatherbys Lonsdale Cup at York on Friday.
* TYRONE trainer Andy Oliver had a great night at Sligo, landing a stunning 90-1 double courtesy of Long Dog and Stephen Hero.
Long Dog, under Chris Hayes, won the Kilcawley Construction Sligo Maiden while Stephen Hero, ridden by Conor Hoban, triumphed in the Tote Placepot Apprentice Handicap.