Kalanisi's late burst can topple the Giant

Courage of the "Iron Horse'' will be tested by old rival as he attempts to add York's International Stakes to his Group One haul

For something which bills itself as the Ebor meeting, the first of three days of immensely valuable racing at York today appears suspiciously close to lacking a quorum. A total of 21 horses will go to post for the first four races on the card, which in terms of the added prize money works out a little under £32,000 each. With the going now predicted as being good, the management at York surely deserved rather better.

For something which bills itself as the Ebor meeting, the first of three days of immensely valuable racing at York today appears suspiciously close to lacking a quorum. A total of 21 horses will go to post for the first four races on the card, which in terms of the added prize money works out a little under £32,000 each. With the going now predicted as being good, the management at York surely deserved rather better.

One man who will definitely not be calling for a head count, however, is Aidan O'Brien, who stands a fair chance of running up a treble in the first three races. Even Shoal Creek, who runs as a pacemaker for Giant's Causeway in the International Stakes, is guaranteed a minimum of £6,750 merely if he manages to cross the line before the judge has left his box.

The prize O'Brien is really interested in, though, is the £259,000 for the winner of the International, for which Giant's Causeway seems sure to start favourite. Three successive wins in Group One company, preceded by two seconds in the same grade in the 2,000 Guineas in Britain and Ireland, will see to that, and such is the aura which now surrounds the "Iron Horse'' that many punters will entrust the success or failure of their entire week to his sturdy shoulders.

And Mick Kinane's mount may well reward their faith once again, for this latest renewal of the International looks to be one of the poorest for years. Almushtarak is fully exposed as below Group One level - although Kamal Mahdi's seven-year-old will never find a better opportunity to win one - and so too, even on their best form, are Lear Spear and Barathea Guest.

Assuming that Shoal Creek has not improved by three stone since his last outing, this leaves Kalanisi as the only credible alternative to the favourite.

He is, however, a very credible alternative indeed, one whom supporters of the favourite will dismiss at their peril. Just a head separated them at the end of a gruelling drive up the Sandown hill in the Eclipse Stakes last month, and there is no reason to think that there will be any more in it this afternoon. Indeed, with only six starts (Giant's Causeway has nine) behind him to date, and despite being a year older than his main rival, Kalanisi may well have more scope for improvement than Giant's Causeway. At the likely prices, Kalanisi (3.10) is definitely the one to back today.

It may be worth waiting until shortly before the off to do so, however, since O'Brien has notably strong chances in the first two races. If his many followers have trebles running on to Giant's Causeway, the three-year-old will surely go off at an artificially short price, which can only be good news for supporters of Kalanisi.

O'Brien's runner in the first is Hemingway - having exhausted most of the classical composers, Michael Tabor and Sue Magnier are now apparently moving on to the major figures of 20th century literature - who is reputedly among the best of the latest crop of Ballydoyle juveniles. He has raced just once to date, in a maiden at Galway, and duly came home seven lengths clear of some very ordinary rivals. O'Brien used the same race last year, however, to introduce the subsequent Group One winner Aristotle, and while Saratov and Eminence will be far more of a test today, Hemingway (2.05) should maintain his unbeaten record.

Rostropovich, who runs in the Lonsdale Stakes, is another horse of considerable potential, particularly now that he is being stepped up in trip. He may not be quite good enough to handle Rainbow High (next best 2.35), however, who should have improved since the Goodwood Cup, in which he finished behind another of today's rivals, Royal Rebel. In the Great Voltigeur Stakes, meanwhile, DALAMPOUR (nap 3.45) is a solid bet to follow up his success in the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot, and Warning Reef (4.15) has a solid each-way chance in the day's big handicap.

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