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Gosden: Cracksman over Epsom battle and on course for Prince of Wales's

Successive trips to Ascot are on the summer agenda for Cracksman with his trainer John Gosden ruling out a crack at next month's Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown with the highest-rated horse in Europe.

After an underwhelming display at Epsom in the Group 1 Coronation Cup, in which he beat Salouen by a head, Gosden is keen to see last season's seven-length Champion Stakes winner reassert himself upon the middle-distance division back over the course and distance over which he produced that breathtaking display.

The trainer confirmed the son of Frankel – 4-5 market leader for the Group 1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot on Wednesday week – has recovered well from the rough trip he endured at Epsom and was out cantering as usual on Warren Hill in Newmarket on Monday morning.

And with just 19 days between Epsom and his Ascot assignment, Cracksman will not be then asked to turn out gain just 17 days later to tackle the Eclipse, for which he is as short as 6-1 with the sponsors.

Instead, the Anthony Oppenheimer-owned four-year-old will be prepared for his big summer target, the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 28, for which he is generally 7-4 favourite.

Gosden said: "Cracksman has come out of Epsom in good shape all things considered and he's on course for Royal Ascot. He'll probably breeze midweek.

"The Ascot race will be at the end of a busy period for the horse so there's no reason to be turning him out again quickly in the Eclipse. The plan would be to keep him fresh for the King George."

Cracksman, picture Liesl King

Reflecting on Cracksman's display in the Coronation Cup, in which the colt came from an unpromising position to reel in front-runner Salouen, Gosden said: "He did well considering he must have felt like a boxer in the first part of the race after hitting his head in the stalls.

"That meant he missed the break, which is very unlike him, and rather than sitting second we ended up in fifth. He was never travelling in the first part of the race and was playing catch up thereafter."

Of his Royal Ascot chance, Gosden said of the five-time Group winner: "The draw is very important for the ten-furlong races at Ascot as the bend at Swinley Bottom is not far from the start. We've had problems coming from the high numbers before, but we'll have to see what the 48-hour stage brings us.

"One thing we're not concerned about is the ground as Cracksman is quite versatile as regards surface. He's won on everything from good to soft."

On the likely ground conditions, clerk of the course Chris Stickels suggested he would likely have to water again in order to maintain the current good, good to firm in places.

He said on Monday: "We're good, good to firm in places. We watered today, putting 5mm on the old course and 10mm on the new. The forecast suggests there's the odd shower around, with 1mm or so about on Thursday and maybe something in the region of 2-5mm on Saturday, otherwise it's generally pretty dry through to racing.

"I can't really be too accurate about next week just yet, it's still too far away, but other than a few little bits it looks fairly settled this week.

"We'll certainly have to put more [water] on given that forecast, we'll take a view again after on Thursday and see where we stand, but if that forecast proves correct we'll put more on. We'd currently be losing around 3-4mm a day and I know temperatures are set to drop a little, bit but it'd be rock hard if we didn't put anything else on."

Enable update

At the outset of the year, the King George was supposed to be the first of two showdowns between Gosden's two big guns Cracksman and Enable, but that has been off the agenda since the latter suffered a setback in May.

Gosden said about last year's Arc winner: "Enable is being exercised in the yard and I don't think she can work out why she's not being allowed back on the Heath. Ideally, the plan would be to get her back and give her one run before the Arc in late August or September."

 

 

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