International Stakes

The International Stakes at York is one of the most prestigious all-aged middle-distance horse races in Europe. It regularly attracts the best of the current Classic generation who clash with their elders. Epsom Derby winners Authorized, Sea The Stars and Australia all won the International Stakes while notable older horses to take the prize include Halling, Sakhee and Frankel.

International Stakes

The Race

The International Stakes is the feature race on the opening day (Wednesday) of the four-day Ebor Festival meeting at York in August. It is a Group 1 race over ten furlongs, a distance that has great appeal for the breeding industry. This has the made the International particularly attractive for Derby winners and horses that stay beyond ten furlongs have a good record here. Frankel (2012) was of course a brilliant miler who successfully stepped up in trip at York before winning the Champion Stakes on his final career start.

Famous International Stakes Winners & History

The International Stakes was first run in 1972 as the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup with victory going to Epsom Derby winner Roberto. The race was even more notable for the fact that he inflicted the only defeat suffered by Brigadier Gerard in his 18-race career.

Dahlia became the first dual winner of the race in 1974 and 1975 before Relkino sprang a 33-1 surprise in 1977, beating a field which included the much-vaunted Artaius. The incredibly high standard was maintained throughout the 70’s and 80’s with the likes of Troy (1979), Assert (1982) and Triptych (1987) among those on the roll of honour.

The race was sponsored as the Matchmaker International from 1985 until 1989 when the late Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte took over. Ezzoud (1993, 1994) and Halling (1995, 1996) posted back-to-back victories in the race with Giant’s Causeway (2000) and subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sakhee (2001) also successful.

Sea The Stars was another exceptional winner in 2009, the winner of the 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Eclipse. His main market rival was Mastercraftsman, the winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes. After a brief duel, Sea The Stars showed superior acceleration to win by a length in a new track record time.

Prince Khalid had to wait until Twice Over (2011) to record his first win in the race but this was surpassed by Frankel the following season. There had been much debate about whether such a brilliant miler would stay ten furlongs but Sir Henry Cecil was always confident. The result was never in any doubt as he cruised to the front under regular rider Tom Queally to beat Farhh and St Nicholas Abbey by seven lengths.

Key International Stakes Trials

Two recent Eclipse winners have come on to win this race in recent years in Roaring Lion (2018) and Ghaiyyath (2020). The previous four Eclipse winners had all been beaten here; Twice Over (2010), Al Kazeem (2013), Golden Horn (2015) and Hawkbill (2016). Two winners have come here after being beaten in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, most recently Mishriff who proved no match for Derby winner Adayar before taking this prize by 6 lengths in impressive fashion. He had previously finished third in the Eclipse at Sandown behind St Mark’s Basilica.

International Stakes Betting Trends

Ten of the last twenty International favourites have won. Frankel (2012) returned at odds of 1-10 while other winning favourites include Rip Van Winkle (2010), Australia (2014) and Postponed (2016). Only two of the last twelve winners were outside of the first three in the betting, most notably 50-1 shock Arabian Queen (2015).

Although she had finished a respectable third in the Nassau Stakes on her previous start, nothing in her form suggested she was capable of beating Derby winner Golden Horn. Jockey Silvestre de Sousa had other ideas and let her bowl to the front after a furlong before gamely repelling Frankie Dettori’s challenge on the 4-9 favourite by a neck. It certainly ranks alongside the shock defeats of Brigadier Gerard and Artaius in terms of International Stakes upsets.

International Stakes Stats

It is difficult to draw any firm conclusions on the best age group here. Three-year-olds dominated for six successive seasons from 1978 to 1983 but it has been a fairly even spread with the older horses ever since. The oldest winner to date was Twice Over who was successful as a six-year-old in 2011.

Eleven of the last twelve winners had already been successful at least once at Group 1 level, Arabian Queen being the exception to the rule. Her rating of 109 was also the lowest official figure to win in the same period. Japan (2019) was rated 117 and everything else was 120 or higher, notably Frankel who carried an official rating of 140.

Top Trainers and Jockeys

Sir Michael Stoute and Aidan O’Brien currently share top spot in the training records for the International Stakes with six winners apiece. Stoute recorded his first victory with Shardari (1986) and was twice victorious with Ezzoud (1993, 1994). His other winners were Singspiel (1997), Notnowcato (2006) and Ulysses (2017).

O’Brien first landed the International Stakes with Giant’s Causeway (2000) to be followed by Duke of Marmalade (2008), Rip van Winkle (2010) and Declaration of War (2013). Derby winner Australia landed the odds in 2014 before Japan’s hard fought victory in 2019.

Frankie Dettori equalled Lester Piggott’s all-time record of five wins in the race when he won on Authorized in 2007. He has not managed to add to his tally since, going agonisingly close on odds-on favourite Golden Horn in 2015.

Betting on the International Stakes

There is a strong ante-post betting market on the International Stakes. It is one of the headline races for the York Ebor meeting and there are often special enhanced odds about the favourite for new customers. Although there has been the occasional shock result, the form usually holds up well from Epsom, Ascot and Sandown for this fixture.

Only two of the last twelve winners of the International Stakes were successful on their next outing. Frankel won the Champion Stakes at Ascot in 2012 while Roaring Lion followed up in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in 2018. All of the others were defeated next time, suggesting that this is a hard race to bounce back from.

Summary

The International Stakes is one of the best ten furlong races in the world and sets the scene for the Champion Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes in the Autumn. Some of the top names in turf history have run here and it provides a thrilling feature race on the opening day of the Ebor Festival.

As the Co-Founder of British Racecourses, I love the chance to share my enjoyment of racing with others. As a family, we have always loved the racing and went to Haydock races as kids, as often as we could. We are now lucky enough to own some fantastic racehorses who we will follow around the tracks and we have had some great wins. As part of British Racecourses, I enjoy visiting and reviewing the racecourses that we visit, all of which I think have something to offer and are brilliant in their own ways.