FORGET Floyd Mayweather Jnr against Conor McGregor.
The big heavyweight clash of the week takes place on the Knavesmire this afternoon when BARNEY ROY and CHURCHILL go head-to head for the third time this season.
Dual Guineas winner Churchill won the first encounter between the two at Newmarket back in May, but comprehensively lost the rematch in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
That definitely didn’t appear to be the real Churchill, although no real excuses emerged afterwards other than the fact the horse hated the extreme temperatures on the day.
Previously he had looked almost unbeatable and seemed to have improved between his two Guineas successes.
He quickened right away from Thunder Snow at the Curragh and that colt has since gone on to land the Group One Prix Jean Prat in equally commanding fashion.
Churchill now steps up to 10 furlongs for the first time in a move connections have been keen to do for some time.
There is nothing in his pedigree that suggests the trip will be a problem, but then again, we won’t know he truly stays until he tries.
Barney Roy, on the other hand, now looks to be crying out for this trip and got within a nose of winning last month’s Coral Eclipse at Sandown.
He seems to take plenty of time to hit full stride, so the return to a flat track with a long home straight on his favoured fast ground is perfect.
His most eye-catching performance of the campaign in my eyes remains his reappearance win in the Greenham when mowing down Dream Castle late on.
Newbury’s long-straight, similar to York, seemed to play to his strengths and he quickened up in breathtaking fashion that day.
At a best-priced 11/4, I expect Barney Roy to emerge victorious this afternoon with his biggest danger likely to be his Eclipse conqueror ULYSSES.
Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old chased home Enable on unsuitably soft ground at Ascot in the King George last time.
He seems to be improving dramatically at the age of four and will again be a tough nut to crack on better revised terms.
The conditions for the Eclipse saw him shoulder 10lbs more than Barney Roy and his fellow three-year-olds.
This afternoon that weight-for-age allowance is down to just 7lbs, making life that bit tougher for the younger generation.
There is no getting away from the fact Ulysses will be hard to pass, but a slight change in tactics may swing things towards the younger colt.
Now that Barney Roy’s connections know he definitely stays, he can be ridden more positively with the extra distance no problem.
I expect him to gain his revenge over Ulysses by making his turn of foot count to win the second Group One of his career.
Looking at the others and Aidan O’Brien also saddles Cliffs Of Moher who can be forgiven his fourth place at Sandown last time.
He was nearly brought down when badly squeezed up early on in the Eclipse and never seemed to recover.
Previously he had finished second in the Investec Derby having failed to see out the trip and can go much better here.
Whether he has the gears to trouble the likes of Barney Roy, Ulysses and Churchill is unlikely, though.
If one of the other four runners is to upset the big three then it could well be John Gosden’s Shutter Speed who hasn’t been seen since finishing a close fourth in the French Oaks back in June.
She previously had looked very good when winning the Musidora here in May and don’t forget had stablemate Enable behind at Newbury in April.
She gets a handy 10lbs from the older colts and will be there to pick up the pieces should any of the big guns under perform.
Fans of My Dream Boat will be hoping the application of a first-time visor makes all the difference, although the lack of rain is more of a concern.
Decorated Knight isn’t totally dismissed on his Royal Ascot form, but he was well and truly put in his place behind Ulysses and Barney Roy in the Eclipse.
BILL ESDAILE’S JUDDMONTE INTERNATIONAL STAKES 1-2-3
- Barney Roy