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Cracksman bidding to emulate Frankel

19 Oct 2017

Europe’s richest mile and a quarter race has all the ingredients of being a classic with ten runners going to post.

Cracksman prepares for the QIPCO Champion Stakes

The John Gosden-trained colt Cracksman is seeking his first Group 1 victory but has won his past two starts in Group 2 company – the Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes and Qatar Prix Niel – by an aggregate of almost ten lengths.

Godolphin have had a tremendous year and Sheikh Mohammed’s operation will be represented by the Richard Hannon-trained Barney Roy, who won the St James’s Palace Stakes and has also been placed in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International. Maverick Wave will also carry the famous blue colours.

The QIPCO Champion Stakes is one of the few big races run in Britain to have eluded champion trainer Aidan O’Brien and he saddles Highland Reel, who has achieved six Group 1 wins during his fabulous career, and Cliffs Of Moher, runner-up in the Investec Derby.

Jean-Claude Rouget struck for France 12 months ago with the brilliant Almanzor and seeks to repeat that feat with Brametot, winner of this year’s French 2000 Guineas and Derby.

Richard Hannon, trainer of Barney Roy:
“Last year I didn’t have a runner on Champions Day and basically went there for lunch. Runners on that day should be very special; it should be about the top-class horses and that’s what Champions Day has become. The Champion Stakes is a great race and even if I didn’t have a runner in it I would be there to watch it.

“Barney Roy goes there in great nick. I don’t think James [Doyle] did much wrong last time [in the Juddmonte International at York] but we ended up taking each other on [Churchill] two-and-a-half furlongs down and it very much played very much into the hands of Ulysses. I bet he could not believe his luck.

“Other than that our form ties in very closely with Ulysses and there should not be much between them. We certainly won’t go setting it up for him this time. We will get a lead, sit in a little bit.”

James Doyle, jockey of Barney Roy:
“I sat on him at Kempton last week and he did his usual spin round – like he usually does ten or 12 days out from his race – and he seemed perfectly well. It was a nice leg stretch around there and he feels like he has physically improved a touch for his little break since the Juddmonte. I’m quite excited.

“He’s gradually getting the hang of it with each run – he’s quite a slow learner as you saw in the Eclipse when he got a bit lost and hit all the ridges wrong. He’s quite a long-striding horse. In the Eclipse they didn’t go any kind of gallop and I was always gaining on the horses in front of me, so it can prove a little bit tricky.

“We had to ride him a little more aggressively in the Juddmonte from the draw we had and because of the lack of the pace. I suppose we’ll just hope for a bit of pace and I’ll ride him like I did in the St James’s Palace.”

Rupert Pritchard-Gordon, Racing Manager for Al Shaqab in France, owners of Brametot:
“Brametot did his last piece of work on Monday morning in Deauville and all the signs are good. He looks like he’s taken the Arc very well and I think a truly run mile and a quarter will really suit him. He comes into the race relatively fresh having only run twice since June and everything points to a good performance.

“Whether he’s good enough to beat the likes of Ulysses and Cracksman we don’t know, but if he repeats his form then he has a solid chance. He’s got such a fantastic turn of foot and is so tough and honest that we felt if he came out of the Arc well then this would be the ideal race. He’s already a dual Classic winner, and we’re hoping he can finish on another high.”