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Cracksman and Poet’s Word set to do battle again in £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes

8 Aug 2018

Last year's Champion Stakes winner and runner-up among 49 entered for the showpiece in October

Last year’s stunning QIPCO Champion Stakes winner Cracksman has “a very good possibility” of defending his title in the £1.3 million contest according to his owner Anthony Oppenheimer.

John Gosden’s colt finished the season as the highest-rated horse in Europe on the back of his display at Ascot, where he beat the subsequent dual Group 1 star Poet’s Word by seven lengths.

Cracksman continued his winning spree in both the Prix Ganay and Investec Coronation Cup before meeting with defeat in a rematch with Poet’s Word in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. He missed out on another clash with that same horse in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored By QIPCO) on account of the ground and is scheduled to make his next start in the Juddmonte International, also part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

“Cracksman was absolutely in his element last year and it was a marvellous day,” said Oppenheimer. “There’s no question the race will be considered. I’ve seen him at the stable this week, he looks fantastic and we’re just waiting for the rain. If it rains at York and the ground is good to soft, he’ll run at York, if it’s like it has been recently, he won’t.

“He’s got a very good possibility of running at Ascot. He’s had a long rest. As long as it’s good ground or good to soft, he’ll run, probably. He’s going to run in the Arc, too, but he can do both.”

Some 49 horses from across Europe have been entered for Europe’s most valuable mile and a quarter race, with Gosden also making an entry for Enable, the brilliant winner of five Group 1’s last year including the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored By QIPCO) but who has not yet appeared in 2018.

Heading the three-year-old division is another of Cracksman’s stablemates in Roaring Lion, who earned a deserved Group 1 and QIPCO British Champions Series breakthrough in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last month.

David Redvers, racing and bloodstock manager to owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani’s Qatar Racing, said, “Roaring Lion will have both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the QIPCO Champion Stakes as options. He’ll be running in the Juddmonte International at York next, and then we will have to discuss his autumn campaign.”

Saxon Warrior, the decisive winner of the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and Investec Derby fourth, chased Roaring Lion hard in the Coral-Eclipse and heads 16 Aidan O’Brien entries alongside the likes of his William Hill St Leger winner Capri and the well-travelled Mendelssohn.

It is one of the very few races to have eluded the master of Ballydoyle.

“Saxon Warrior stayed on strongly in the Eclipse at Sandown last time and ran a good race,” said the trainer. “At the moment, we’re looking at the Juddmonte International at York for him next and then we will have a better idea of which route to take afterwards. He has entries in both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the QIPCO Champion Stakes and could go for either race.”

Joining him as a Classic winner is the Pascal Bary-trained Study Of Man, who took the Prix du Jockey Club. Alan Cooper, Racing Manager to owners the Niarchos family, said, “We’ve entered Study of Man in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, and we are hopeful that if the rest of the season goes well then we can participate.

“He’s showed Pascal (Bary) and Stephane (Pasquier, jockey) a lot of class, and merits the entry. At this stage he runs in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano next week and then will go for the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes. We’ll then decide if he steps up in trip in the Arc or goes for the Champion Stakes.”

Another of Cracksman’s old rivals, French-trained Recoletos, will attempt to enhance his country’s excellent record in the race following the victories of Cirrus Des Aigles (2011) and Almanzor (2016).

He earned a maiden Group 1 in the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp in May and was not beaten far when seventh to Accidental Agent in the Queen Anne Stakes.

Carlos Laffon-Parias, his trainer, said, “Recoletos ran a great race in the QIPCO Champion Stakes last year to be fourth and this is definitely an option for him again. He’s come out of his last run at Ascot well, and it’s all systems go for the Prix Jacques Le Marois then possibly the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp before going for either the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes or QIPCO Champion Stakes.”

Defoe, who impressed in the Dunaden Jockey Club Stakes in the spring, is set to return to action next month with trainer Roger Varian keeping the race under consideration.

Varian said: “He doesn’t like firm ground – he could have run in the King George but they didn’t get the rain. He’s likely to go to Baden-Baden for a Group 1 early in September and we have the Arc as a big autumn target. He’s a very good horse in soft ground.

“We’ve put him in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, and he probably wouldn’t run in the Arc if it was good to firm. Whilst he’s best at a mile and a half, if you got autumn conditions, a stiff 10 furlongs would be fine as well. He ran over 10 furlongs in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, but the ground was too quick that day.”

Other Group 1 stars who could potentially line up include Saeed Bin Suroor’s Benbatl and the Joseph O’Brien-trained Irish Derby scorer Latrobe. Subway Dancer, trained by Zdenek Koplik and a consistent Pattern-level performer, is a rare entry in Britain from the Czech Republic.

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Full Entries:

Addeybb (IRE) Benbatl (GB) Capri (IRE) Cracksman (GB) Crystal Ocean (GB) Deauville (IRE) Defoe (IRE) Dubai Thunder (GB) Lancaster Bomber (USA) Maverick Wave (USA) Mirage Dancer (GB) Monarchs Glen (GB) Poet’s Word (IRE) Racing History (IRE) Recoletos (FR) Red Verdon (USA) Riven Light (IRE) Stormy Antarctic (GB) Subway Dancer (IRE) Talismanic (GB) Thundering Blue (USA)
Thunder Snow (IRE) Enable (GB) Hydrangea (IRE) Rhododendron (IRE) Amedeo Modigliani (IRE) Elarqam (GB) Ghaiyyath (IRE) Latrobe (IRE) Loxley (IRE) Mendelssohn (USA) Patascoy (FR) Roaring Lion (USA) Romanised (IRE) Rostropovich (IRE) Saxon Warrior (JPN) Seahenge (USA) Study of Man (IRE) Threeandfourpence (USA) Verbal Dexterity (IRE) Willie John (GB) Without Parole (GB) Athena (IRE) Crown Walk (GB) Happily (IRE) Laurens (FR) Magical (IRE) Magic Wand (IRE) September (IRE)