Cracksman, the horse the bookies feared, met his Waterloo at Royal Ascot on Wednesday as he was comfortably beaten by the impressive Sir Michael Stoute-trained Poet’s Word in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
Giving Stoute a record-breaking 76th Royal Ascot success – surpassing the previous mark he had shared with the great Sir Henry Cecil for two years – Poet’s Word (11/2) was given a perfectly judged ride by James Doyle as he capitalised on a below-par performance from the red-hot 2/5 favourite, on whom Frankie Dettori never looked particularly happy.
Despite not travelling with his usual fluency, Cracksman, winner of the Coronation Cup earlier this month and by some way the highest rated horse in Europe, came through under pressure to head the front-running Eminent at the two furlong pole. A glance behind however revealed that Poet’s Word was still pulling double and he fairly bounded past the favourite to lead approaching the furlong marker then powered away to a surprisingly easy two-and-a-quarter length success, with Hawkbill (11/1) finishing eight lengths further back in third.
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“I’m delighted for him,” said Stoute of his big winner. “He’s been in at the deep end in Group Ones and performing very creditably. It was nice to see him win one. I wasn’t confident. [Cracksman] had beaten us comprehensively in the Champion Stakes last year. Maybe [he] is not at his very best now, but we’ve beaten the others comprehensively.“
“At no stage was he travelling or carrying Frankie,” suggested Gosden of Cracksman. “We will get him home and sharpen him up a little bit. We will look into it before the King George, as that is how to play the game. The ability is there, but I didn’t feel he was generous with it today.”
Poet’s Word is now a top priced 6/1 with 888Sport for the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on July 7 having been a 12/1 shot prior to his great victory. He has been similarly trimmed from 12/1 to a best price of 6/1 with Ladbrokes for the mile-and-a-half King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot on July 28, for which Cracksman, formerly a clear 7/4 favourite, is now out to 7/2 with Betfred.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.