GBI RACING

Cracksman takes aim at Prince of Wales’s Stakes

Cracksman needs to return to his brilliant best

John Gosden has admitted scrambling home in the Coronation Cup was not the ideal way to prepare for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes for Cracksman.

Having looked imperious in both the Champion Stakes and the Prix Ganay, Cracksman was a long odds-on favourite at Epsom.

It took all of Frankie Dettori’s strength and guile in the saddle to drive him up close home to beat outsider Salouen, but Gosden expects the more conventional track to be in his favour.

It was a close-run thing for Cracksman in the Coronation Cup
It was a close-run thing for Cracksman in the Coronation Cup (David Davies/PA)

He said: “He is fine. It was a bit of a muddle at Epsom, but he got the job done.

“It would not be the ideal prep race coming in, but we are happy to run him and he is in good form at home. After this we will have a nice wait until the King George.

“The horse was a little bit at sea all the time at Epsom. He did whack his head in the stalls. I could understand why he didn’t like coming down the hill.

“He seems happy at the moment. He has breezed since Epsom and Frankie has ridden him. He is pleased with the horse going into the race.

“The ground rode very soft on Champions Day and this is a different ball game. This is summer racing on fast summer ground so it is a different ball game.”

Owner Anthony Oppenheimer said: “I hope he will be the star attraction, but you can never tell. It was amazing he won at Epsom, as we had no idea he bumped his head at the beginning.

“John said he wasn’t travelling at all well in those first five furlongs. It was so unlike the horse that he was keen. He had a hell of a bump on his head and he almost became a unicorn!

“Fortunately he won, although it was quite close. I thought a furlong out he was beaten.

“The ground was soft and I was thinking ‘how he is going to catch up?’ but he did. It is bit firmer than it was on Champions Day, so we will see what happens, but hopefully it will be the same result.”

Charlie Appleby’s Hawkbill has been around for a few years and on his day has proved capable of some top-class form, like when he won the Eclipse.

However, he was a long way behind Cracksman at Epsom.

Hawkbill enjoyed one his finest moments in the 2016 running of the Eclipse
Hawkbill enjoyed one his finest moments in the 2016 running of the Eclipse (Julian Herbert/PA)

“We were slightly disappointed with Hawkbill’s run at Epsom, as he had his ground there,” said Appleby.

“He is becoming more versatile as he gets older and has put up decent performances on quick ground as well as soft ground.

“He does get himself worked up, but he got a bit more worked up as well and maybe there was a bit of freshness as well that day because he had a break since the Sheema Classic victory in Dubai.

“He’s come out of the race very well and Hawkbill is Hawkbill – when he brings his A game, he is a hard horse to pass.”

Cliffs Of Moher found stablemate Lancaster Bomber (left) just too strong at the Curragh
Cliffs Of Moher found stablemate Lancaster Bomber (left) just too strong at the Curragh (PA)

Cliffs Of Moher is Aidan O’Brien’s representative and while he looks up against it, there was not much between him and Cracksman in the Derby last year.

“He came on well from his first run this year to his second and we think he has progressed again since the Tattersalls Gold Cup,” said O’Brien in a stable tour for At The Races.

Martyn Meade was at a loss to explain Eminent’s display at Chester on his return to action.

At first a heart problem was blamed, but that theory has since been debunked.

Meade said: “I think he’s better on fast ground so I think the ground will suit him, it was quick in France when he won and in the Craven.”