Friday 16 November 2018

Gosden drops 'Lion' in trip and opts for blinkers on Cracksman

Trainer John Gosden. Photo: Getty Images
Trainer John Gosden. Photo: Getty Images

Thomas Kelly

Cracksman will wear blinkers on his final outing in tomorrow's Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot as his John Gosden stablemate Roaring Lion steps back in trip for the other big race, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Winner of the Epsom Derby over 12 furlongs, Roaring Lion has won three Group Ones over a mile and a quarter on his last three runs and has not run over a mile since finishing fifth in the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas in May.

Following heavy rain the ground is heavy on the round course while the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes takes place on the straight mile, which is why owners Qatar Racing Ltd (a subsidiary of Qipco who sponsor Champions Day) have opted for the shorter race.

Prix du Moulin winner Recoletos, who excels on soft ground, makes the trip from France while Karl Burke's multiple Group One winner Laurens and Irish Guineas winner Romanised are also in the line-up.

Meanwhile, Gosden's Cracksman is trying to win the Champion Stakes for a second successive year after he demolished a good field last season.

However, despite winning the Prix Ganay and the Coronation Cup this term he has failed to hit last year's heights, scrambling home at Epsom and being beaten in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Gosden put that performance down to the quick ground, meaning he has not run since because of the heatwave this summer, and also not having his mind fully on the job - hence the application of headgear.

Aidan O'Brien runs last year's St Leger winner Capri and the Lockinge victor Rhododendron, which has been disappointing since Newbury in May.

Michael Stoute's Crystal Ocean looks the main threat, having pushed Poet's Word all the way in the King George. He was, however, no match for Enable at Kempton when trying to concede weight last time out.

Jim Bolger's Verbal Dexterity, a Group One winner at two, and Subway Dancer from the Czech Republic complete the field.

Meanwhile, Samcro will make his seasonal debut at Down Royal early next month but it's still to be decided if it will be over hurdles or fences.

The exciting prospect - which lost his unbeaten record when falling in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle - has a couple of options which trainer Gordon Elliott will discuss with owners Gigginstown House Stud.

"He's in good form and he'll be entered in both races up the north," Elliott told At The Races.

"We'll have a chat during the week and see what happens, but I'm looking forward to getting him out.

"He schooled over fences last year and is a very good jumper. We haven't schooled him over grass at the moment because the ground is very quick. We're hoping for a bit of rain."

Irish Independent

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