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Hawkbill tests power of Cracksman in Coronation Cup

30 May 2018

A final field of six has been declared for the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom on Friday.

Buick and Hawkbill after winning the Coral-Eclipse in 2016. Picture:

The highest-rated horse in Europe, Cracksman heads a final field of six for the £420,000 Investec Coronation Cup (3.10pm) at Epsom on Friday.

The Frankel colt, seeking to give John Gosden a first success in the Group 1 feature, was the stunning winner of the QIPCO Champion Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot in October and picked up from where left off with a fluent success in the Prix Ganay at Paris-Longchamp on April 29.

Cracksman finished third in the Investec Derby before finding one too good in the Irish equivalent but Gosden said at Epsom’s Breakfast With Stars event last week that he was “the unfinished product” at the time and believes he is now much more the finished article for a race that makes up part of the Middle Distance category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

His opponents include the prolific Hawkbill, who has won half of his 20 races and earned his connections £3.4 million in prize money. The five-year-old was a valiant third to Highland Reel in last year’s Coronation Cup and showed himself to be in great heart when making all and beating Poet’s Word by three lengths in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan on his latest start.

The runner-up franked the form when going one better in the Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown last week and William Buick, regular rider of Hawkbill, believes another bold show is on the cards.

“Hawkbill seemed better than ever in the Sheema Classic,” he said. ”It helped [that we got an uncontested lead] but he relaxed well in front and was a decent winner on the night. That was lovely but we need to build on that now.

“He is genuine a Group 1 horse who likes the track and stays the trip. And if there is any more rain it won’t harm his chances.

“Over the years he’s been a great horse. He still likes to deal with little things in his own way but he’s grown up physically and mentally and seems better now as a five-year-old.”

Reflecting on Hawkbill’s third in the Coronation Cup last year, when it looked like he might win inside the final two furlongs, Buick said: “I took the race to Highland Reel early and you do that at your peril against him. It cost me second on the day but we are here again, under slightly different conditions and I also think we have a better horse.”

Aidan O’Brien has lifted the Coronation Cup a record eight times and will be represented by Idaho and Yucatan. Idaho, a brother of Highland Reel, seeks to complete a notable family double and looked on good terms with himself when an easy winner of the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes at Chester on his latest start.

International spice is provided by the Markus Klug-trained Windstoss, who is aiming to become the second German-trained winner of the Coronation Cup after Boreal’s triumph in 2002. The four-year-old colt emulated his sire, the 2006 Investec Coronation Cup winner Shirocco, when scooping the Group 1 Deutsches Derby at Hamburg last summer.

Salouen, twice placed in Group 1 company as a two-year-old, completes the field.