Talking Horses: Injury to St Mark’s Basilica takes shine off Ebor meeting

The Juddmonte International Stakes at York was named the best race in the world for the first time in 2020, as Ghaiyyath beat three previous Group One winners and send it to the top of a list based on the end-of-season ratings of the first four horses home. The Eclipse, also won by Ghaiyyath with Enable in second, was sixth while the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – the World’s Best Race in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 – shared 11th place with the Coronation Cup.

Hopes that the 2021 renewal on Wednesday will keep top spot took a knock on Monday morning, however, when St Mark’s Basilica – the odds-on favourite and already the winner of three Group Ones this season – was ruled out after sustaining an injury on Aidan O’Brien’s gallops on Sunday morning.

The Eclipse winner sustained a cut to a hind leg after losing a front shoe during exercise, and blood tests on Monday morning suggested it had become infected. St Mark’s Basilica will need a course of antibiotics and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on 11 September is now the most likely date for his next appearance on track.

“He lost a front shoe and it came back and hit his hind leg, his near-hind joint,” O’Brien said on Monday. “We didn’t think a lot of it but this morning there was a little bit of swelling in it and when we took bloods off him, his bloods came back and it was a little bit infected.

“We were a bit taken aback when we saw it this morning but when we did the bloods then we didn’t have any choice as he needs to go on antibiotics and the antibiotics that he’s going to go on, obviously he couldn’t run on.

“Hopefully we’ll be back on target towards the end of this week and if we are, we’ll be able to train him for the Irish Champion.”

The depth of talent at Ballydoyle is such that Love, with five Group One wins to her name already including the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, will take St Mark’s Basilica’s place on Wednesday. She was beaten behind Adayar in the King George on her latest start, however, and her latest published rating is 120, 7lb behind her stable companion.

That leaves Mishriff, who has been beaten on his two starts this summer after winning both the Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup earlier in the year, as the top-rated runner in a seven-runner field for the feature event on Wednesday.

Despite finishing nearly two lengths in front of Love in the King George, however, he is second-favourite, at 5-2, in Paddy Power’s updated betting, with Love heading the market at 6-4 and Alcohol Free, the Sussex Stakes winner, on 5-1 as she steps up to 10 furlongs for the first time.

St Mark’s Basilica and Adayar, three-year-olds both, were joint-top of the world rankings on 127 when the most recent list was published this month although the four-year-old Palace Pier, who was 2lb adrift on 125, could edge closer to the top of the pile after his narrow defeat of Poetic Flare in an exceptional renewal of the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Sunday.

The loss of St Mark’s Basilica on Wednesday takes a little of the shine off the Ebor meeting this week but there will still be much for spectators on the Knavesmire to anticipate ahead of tje sell-out for the Ebor itself on Saturday.

Snowfall, the runaway winner of the Oaks and Irish Oaks, is on course to emulate Enable by adding the Yorkshire Oaks to her record on Thursday while Suesa, the King George Stakes winner, and Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal will attempt to fill the gap left by the recent retirement of Battaash in the Nunthorpe Stakes on Friday.

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