The highly experienced Robert Havlin has been confirmed as the intended partner for star middle distance colt Cracksman in Saturday’s Group 1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (3.40) – but it is by no means certain that John Gosden’s colt will run in the big race.
Cracksman was one of eight horses declared for this weekend’s showcase mile-and-a-half contest, but this season’s Prix Ganay and Coronation Cup winner – beaten at Royal Ascot on fast ground last time in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (see below) – would be a doubtful participant unless random thunderstorms forecast for the south of England over the next 48 horse happen tos trike at the Berkshire track.
Havlin, who has ridden over 350 winners for Gosden during a long and successful association with the Newmarket-based handler, has ridden plenty of Group 3 and Group 2 winners for the yard but at the age of 44 is still waiting for his maiden top-flight success. The chance to partner Cracksman has emerged following the suspension of his regular rider, Frankie Dettori, due to careless riding at Newmarket last week.
Cracksman is currently a top priced 10/3 shot with Boylesports for the ‘King George’ where he would lock horns again with his Ascot conqueror Poet’s Word, the current 9/4 market leader with William Hill. The Hardwicke Stakes winner Crystal Ocean, like Poet’s Word trained by Sir Michael Stoute, is a 5/2 shot with 888sport. Gosden’s second-string Coronet is next in the betting at 12/1 with Betfair.
“If he did run it would mean there’s ease in the ground and the Cracksman we all know from last year would eat them alive,” Havlin told reporters on Thursday. “I ride him every day. I won on him first time out and I probably know him better than anybody. He was bucking and kicking this morning so I’m just praying for a bit of rain. Obviously, he has two and a bit lengths to make up on Poet’s Word on fast ground, but on easy ground that is well achievable.”
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.