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Poet’s Word is the winning one

07/08/2018
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DROUGHT robbed Saturday’s 1m4f Group 1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes of one of its main attractions, Cracksman but racegoers were treated to an enthralling renewal nonetheless with the Sir Michael Stoute pair Poet’s Word and Crystal Ocean, both partnered by ‘Godolphin jockeys’, duelling to the line, locked together. It was the former, under James Doyle, who prevailed by a neck, leading virtually on the line in a style reminiscent of the same jockey’s Irish Oaks victory a week earlier aboard Sea Of Class. In doing so, the son of the sadly deceased Poet’s Voice became the first 5yo to win this illustrious prize since Daylami carried the Godolphin silks and Frankie Dettori to victory in 1999.

The vanquished Crystal Ocean, committed for home early in the relatively short Ascot straight by William Buick, lost nothing in defeat, clinging grimly to his advantage and only succumbing in the final strides in front of a spellbound audience. “It’s a pity there was a loser, that’s how you sum it up. They are two such admirable horses, delightful to train,” said Stoute, saddling the winner of the race for a record sixth occasion. “I thought Doyle could have done a little bit better and managed a dead-heat though!” he added jokingly. Stoute’s King George history began 37 years ago when he claimed Flat racing’s ‘midsummer championship’ race with Shergar, his greatest ever horse. He saddled the first three home in 2009, when Conduit beat Tartan Bearer and Ask, and the following year watched Harbinger land the prize by a record margin of 11 lengths.

For a while, it appeared Crystal Ocean, sent into a clear lead by Buick when Rostropovich dropped away with 2f to run, had the race won. Poet’s Word was being hard driven by Doyle with about three lengths to make up, but began to close as the line approached, getting on top only close home, the pair leaving leaving daylight between them and Coronet, nine lengths behind in third. “There was nothing between them really,” added Stoute. “I felt Poet’s Word wouldn’t get there until the last 100 yards or so. “It’s a great mid season race and we’ve been lucky enough to do very well in it. It’s a great team effort.

You have no idea how much they all put into these horses.” Stoute, 72, had not won the King George since 2010, since when the flow of Group One triumphs for his Newmarket stable has slowed. He gained the last of his ten Flat trainers’ championships in 2009. Poet’s Word, now a Group One winner at a mile and a half as well as a mile and a quarter, seems to go particularly well for Doyle who has won two out of his three rides on Poet’s Word, their only defeat coming in last year’s Irish Champion Stakes. “He was probably a little unlucky on him in the Irish Champion Stakes when he just didn’t get the rub of the green,” continued Stoute, who was reluctant to nominate Poet’s Word’s next target. “Soundness, temperament and an owner that’s let me be patient with him is the key,” Stoute concluded.

For the record, that owner is Emirati Saeed Suhail. Doyle, enjoying a rich vein of form and riding in his very first King George, added: “I was lucky to get the ride on him at Royal Ascot and the way things worked out meant I could stay on him, which I was ecstatic about. “They went a hell of a pace today. I wanted Coronet’s position, if I’m honest, but my horse flopped out the gate and the last thing I wanted to do was slip him a bit of rein running down the hill. “I had to be patient, but rounding the turn the filly was dropping off a bit, which was frustrating, as it meant Crystal Ocean was getting first run on me. I had to be brave and attack late but once I popped him a question he responded really well. He helped me out and was a real star. He is such a genuine warrior.

“It looked great but if I had been beaten a neck I would have been really frustrated. Luckily, when you’re on a bit of a roll things seem to fall right. “William is a great friend and he was the first person to pull up and congratulate me. “He is a great jockey and he has won this race before, so it’s nice to nick one off him. It’s always nice to get one up on him!”

Dettori forced Hideaway after Angel’s Newmarket antics but she on best behaviour

EARLIER, Angel’s Hideaway, whose errant running earned Frankie Dettori a costly riding ban, rubbed in the punishment when she steered a straighter path to her first Group victory. The filly hung so badly across the track during her last start at Newmarket that she took out two opponents, for which Dettori collected a suspension that cost him participation on King George day and the mounts on favourites Stradivarius and Without Parole at Goodwood this week. She drifted to her right again in the 6f Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes, for juvenile fillies, but impeded none of her rivals as she stretched to a comfortable win under Robert Havlin, which Dettori had to watch from the ITV dais. “She put Frankie into trouble at Newmarket,” said Havlin.

“She was very professional today. There was a right headwind. She’s strengthened up a lot and is able to finish it off now.” Winning trainer, John Gosden, added: “She is a genuine fast ground 6f filly; it’s not a fluke today. “We could toddle off to the Lowther at York if Pretty Pollyanna goes to the Morny.”

Blue Thundering through ranks after storms soften ground

MEANWHILE at York which had been heavily hit by thunderstorms the previous evening, turning the ground on the soft side of good, to the delight of David Menuisier, trainer of course specialist Thundering Blue. A very useful handicapper, the striking 5yo gelded son of Exchange Rate was stepped up markedly in class, facing six rivals in the Group 2 York Stakes over an extended 1m2f. Ridden patiently and expertly by Fran Berry, he was produced late to snare both Elarqam and runner-up Brorocco in the final strides. It was yet another thrilling big race finish with the official verdict a neck with the same margin back to Sheikh Hamdan’s Elarqam who appeared not to quite stay the trip.

Owner Clive Washbourn suggested the £68,000 first prize would go towards the £75,000 supplementary fee for the Group 1 Juddmonte International. Trainer David Menuisier concurred: “Why not? That’s my only answer to that idea. He just seems to love York. He’s five, but just seems to keep improving and getting more professional. I thought he was going to run a stormer today and not quite get there, a bit like in the John Smith’s Cup last time, when I thought he was extremely unlucky, but it’s good revenge for us. “We’ll run in the Juddmonte but, you know, he doesn’t run like a 1m2f horse; he runs like a 1m4f horse and we might try that in the future.” The win was a first Group race for Menuisier, a former assistant to John Dunlop, who had a Listed winner in his native France last autumn. “It’s massive for a yard like ours,” he said. “It means so much and I’m in shock right now.”

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