Glorious sign-off awaits for Cracksman
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?