Glo­ri­ous sign-off awaits for Cracks­man

The Racing Paper - - Front Page - by Mike Fran­cis

CRACKS­MAN can de­fend his Cham­pion Stakes ti­tle at As­cot (3.50).

John Gos­den’s star has had a ‘poor’ sea­son — de­spite land­ing two Group 1 vic­to­ries from his three out­ings.

While it’s true to say that the four-year-old hasn’t scaled the heights, he did man­age to win the Ganay at Longchamp and Coro­na­tion Cup at Ep­som de­spite trav­el­ling poorly af­ter bang­ing his head in the stalls.

He was then sec­ond to the use­ful Poet’s Word at Royal As­cot on fast ground that isn’t his favourite.

That’s an un­der­state­ment as two of Cracks­man’s three de­feats have come with ‘firm’ in the de­scrip­tion while all four runs on soft have re­sulted in vic­tory.

It’s in­ter­est­ing to see Gos­den put a pair of blink­ers on him to­day and that could just help him set­tle a lit­tle bet­ter.

Crys­tal Ocean looks the pick of the op­po­si­tion. He chased home En­able on the all-weather at Kemp­ton last time af­ter fin­ish­ing an ex­cel­lent sec­ond in the King George VI and Queen Eliz­a­beth Stakes here be­hind sta­ble­mate Poet’s Word.

While much of his best form has come on fast ground, he han­dled test­ing con­di­tions when win­ning the Group 3 Gor­don Richards Stakes at Sandown in April.

If the real Cracks­man turns up, it will be hard to beat him but he has strong enough form to make it a thor­ough chal­lenge what­ever hap­pens.

Capri showed some­thing like the form that won him the St Leger last sea­son when fin­ish­ing fifth in the Arc last time, beaten three lengths.

That was just his sec­ond run since April and he could be open to im­prove­ment. His proven stamina could be an as­set in the con­di­tions too.

Any­thing else win­ning would be a real up­set with Ver­bal Dex­ter­ity the pick of the out­siders. He didn’t like the fast ground when down the field at the Cur­ragh last time but likes it soft and has few miles on the clock.

De­fend­ing champ: But will the real Cracks­man turn up at As­cot?

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