Stars of train­ing ge­nius ready to light up As­cot

Daily Star - - STARFORM -

WITH the cham­pion Flat trainer’s tro­phy vir­tu­ally as­sured, John Gos­den has a for­mi­da­ble hand for next Satur­day’s Qipco Cham­pi­ons Day at As­cot.

Gos­den, in­set, holds the aces with four favourites for the most valu­able day’s rac­ing in Bri­tain with £4.35m up for grabs.

“It’s been an in­cred­i­ble year and it’s ex­cit­ing go­ing to Cham­pi­ons Day with horses like Roar­ing Lion, Cracks­man, Lah Ti Dar and Stradi­var­ius,” said Gos­den, on the windswept New­mar­ket gal­lops.

“It had been a cold mis­er­able win­ter with no spring in New­mar­ket,” said Gos­den. “Roar­ing Lion was not with us, he’s an Amer­i­can boy, and was not suited by that ap­palling weather.

“He ran a nice race in the Guineas then ex­ploded in the Dante and has been a fab­u­lous horse to train.

“I’ve never had one like him. He’s just got big­ger and stronger through­out the sea­son.

“I thought he showed a lot of guts in the Eclipse and was hugely im­pres­sive in the Jud­dmonte and then had an im­pos­si­ble task at Leop­ard­stown in their Cham­pion Stakes.

“He was forced wide, which is a des­per­ate place to be at Leop­ard­stown.

“I watched on my phone in The Fens, on the way back from Don­caster be­cause the he­li­copter couldn’t fly over there, and it jammed and I thought we were beat.

“But when it came back on two min­utes later, I was amazed we had won.

“We are very much look­ing for­ward to run­ning him in the Cham­pi­ons Stakes. But we don’t want to see too much rain.

“I’ve also left him in the QEII. But look, I will be walk­ing the track.”

Gos­den also runs Cracks­man in the Cham­pion Stakes, the race he won last year. Since that im­pe­ri­ous suc­cess the four-year-old has failed to re­peat that per­for­mance in his last two out­ings.

He scraped home in the Corona­tion Cup at Ep­som. And then he failed to fire at Royal As­cot, where he fin­ished sec­ond be­hind Poet’s Word.

Gos­den added: “He was very in­ter­ested in the fil­lies run­ning in the race be­fore his. These girls were walk­ing back to the sta­bles, and it was a hot day, and he de­cided he wanted to jump over a lit­tle hedge and say ‘hello’. The Cham­pion will be his last race.”

Gos­den, un­like many train­ers, is not against us­ing blink­ers or cheek­pieces to en­able him to get the best out of his horses.

“There’s al­ways been a prej­u­dice in this coun­try against blink­ers or any­thing of that na­ture.

“In Amer­ica, I re­mem­ber the great horses like North­ern Dancer and Sec­re­tariat wear­ing blink­ers. It’s an­other tool in the box – we will dis­cuss us­ing them on Cracks­man.” Gos­den, who is head­ing for his third train­ers’ cham­pi­onship and is £900,000 clear of near­est ri­val Ai­dan O’Brien, ap­pears to have a penalty kick with Stradi­var­ius in the Qipco Long Dis­tance Cup.

“I’m very happy with him, he worked with Cracks­man the other day,” said Gos­den. “This will be his fi­nal run of the year but he will be back next sea­son. “He’s a diminu­tive horse. He should be giv­ing pony rides on Brighton beach! When he won the As­cot Gold Cup it was an in­cred­i­ble per­for­mance.”

Lah Ti Dar, the run­ner-up to Kew Gar­dens in the St Leger, is on tar­get for the Cham­pion Fil­lies & Mares Stakes.

“She’s in su­per form,” said Gos­den. “I’ve had a lot of horses hit hard by run­ning them in the Leger but I’m as­tounded how well she’s taken her race. She’ll be joined by Coronet.” Gos­den, ever the re­al­ist about the un­cer­tainty of train­ing race­horses, said: “When I trained in the States and won the Santa Anita Hand­i­cap, beat­ing Char­lie Whit­ting­ham, he put his big, cold hand on the back of my neck, and said ‘just re­mem­ber John, the pole is slip­pery!’”

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