Tactics may decide 'race of the year'

YORK EBOR MEETING: The opening day brings an opportunity for a hardy turf campaigner to establish a popular front
"The best race of the year", is how Peter Chapple-Hyam yesterday described today's International Stakes, in which he sends out Spectrum to try and wrest the trophy from Halling.

Without a win since last year's Champion Stakes, Spectrum has shown signs at home that he is returning to form. "Spectrum is back to his best," Chapple-Hyam said, "but he will need to be, it looks the best race of the year.

"The horse will be suited by plenty of pace because he possibly needs a mile and a half now and if all goes well then he goes for the Arc."

In the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown last time it was Halling, closely followed throughout by Bijou D'Inde, who set the pace, but Bijou D'Inde's trainer, Mark Johnston, was guarded yesterday as to whether similar forcing tactics will be adopted today by his three-year-old who had been considered a doubtful stayer prior to the Eclipse.

"Jason [Weaver] will stop by after racing today to discuss how the race would suit our horse," Johnston said. "We don't plan tactics, we wait until the stalls open before deciding what's best, that's what jockeys are for."

The pace of the race will also be pertinent to the prospects of the improving First Island, whose greatest success came over a mile last time out in Goodwood's Sussex Stakes.