Big races

Cracksman: thoughts on his defeat

I’ve tipped and backed Cracksman for the King George next month and would like to have seen him win today. But I’m not quite so dismayed as some by his performance.

He’s turning into a fascinating horse. Whatever the excuses last time, at the end of the Coronation Cup the furthest thing from your mind would be to run him over 10f on fast ground. When the form is reviewed at the end of the season it might show he ran as well as can be expected for this trip/ground.

Poet’s Word is an improver and until he’s beaten we just won’t know the level of that improvement. I understand Stoute is renowned for developing this type of horse.

When hotpots are turned over there’s a tendency to seek excuses, and there’s no knowing the validity of what connections come up with and pundits speculate upon. Cracksman was a touch reluctant to go into the stalls today and, when they opened, simply did not pick up his bit, dwelling slightly and having to be visibly rousted out. Was his last experience at Epsom, when he reportedly gave his head a right bang exiting the stalls in his mind? He came onto the bridle within a furlong today but the experience seemed to panic Frankie more than the horse and it could be that the jockey made too much use of him (even Frankie could be excused that given how long the horse took to pick up last time).

I think Cracksman just needs a proper trip now. He doesn’t have the tactical speed of others and finds it tough when they quicken mid race. I suspect he’d do much better sitting out the back – much like he did at the Curragh – and being brought with one sustained run rather than being regularly hustled to keep close tabs on the leaders.

Some bookies pushed him out to 7/2 for the KG and, given that nobody knows the strength of Poet’s Word over 10f on fast ground, I think that’s a risky move for bookmakers. No question whatsoever that Cracksman will be better suited by 12f and the ground will be no faster than it was today. They’ll go steadier and Frankie will hopefully ride him with a bit more confidence and give the horse a chance to relax.

If anything does need fixing between now and the KG, no better man to do it than Gosden. It will be interesting to see if he resorts to headgear, although if that Epsom stalls experience has remained with the horse perhaps blinkers should be eschewed in favour of a crash helmet.

Categories: Big races, Race review

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