Horse Racing
Cracksman out to stretch G1-winning sequence after Epsom fright

18/06/2018 18:05

Cracksman is Europe’s highest rated horse and in Wednesday’s featured G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, Frankie Dettori’s mount will be out to confirm that lofty status just slightly dented 19 days earlier in the G1 Coronation Cup over a mile and a half at Epsom.

In the words of his hugely respected trainer John Gosden: “Cracksman must have felt like a boxer in the first part of that race after hitting his head on the stalls.”

“That meant that he missed the break which is very unlike him and rather than sitting second he ended up in fifth. He was never travelling early on and was playing catch up thereafter.”

And history relates that Cracksman did catch up, but only just. In the last few strides he grabbed the lead that had been stolen by Salouen from the gates, recording his third consecutive G1 victory in the process.

And Dettori reveals another reason why we may see a very different Cracksman over the 1993m on Wednesday: “It’s obvious that Cracksman doesn’t like Epsom where he struggles to run downhill. He loves Ascot and I’m sure that the real beast will turn up there on Wednesday.”

The real Cracksman certainly turned up the only previous time he had visited Ascot when he accelerated seven lengths clear of nearest rival Poet’s Word, an expected opponent again on Wednesday, in last October’s G1 Champion Stakes (1993m).

Admittedly the ground was soft that day, but the vastly experienced Gosden – who has trained more than 3000 winners worldwide – declares that he is not worried by different conditions on Wednesday with ground anticipated on the fast side of good, as it is expected to be for the other four days of the Royal Ascot meeting.

Another colt – a son of Frankel like Cracksman – whose trainer is convinced will be a different proposition in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes than he was last time is Eminent, trained by Martyn Meade.

Only three-quarters of a length behind Cracksman when they were third and fourth in last year’s Derby at Epsom, the four-year-old’s other achievements in 2017 included a G2-winning romp in the Prix Guillaume D’Ornano (2000m) at Deauville, where he left Salouen well in his wake.

However Eminent ran an absolute shocker on his 2018 return, starting favourite only to finish a fast-fading last of five in last month’s G2 Huxley Stakes at Chester (2064m).

Meade says: “We initially thought it was a heart problem, but though we checked him in every respect nothing showed up at all. He’d been off for a long time and we hope it was just a complete one-off.”

“I can tell you that Eminent has absolutely thrived since then and, as we have got closer to D-Day at Ascot, he has got stronger and better. He just missed out an elusive G1 victory last season but I have a lot of confidence that my horse will land one soon – maybe even against Cracksman on Wednesday.”

Another possible rival for Cracksman is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Hydrangea, a dual G1 winner. However she is also entered for the previous race – the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes for fillies and mares over Ascot’s straight 1600m.  If she is declared for that G2 this terrifically tough, talented and versatile filly will almost certainly start favourite despite having to give weight to all her rivals.