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Poet’s Word prevails in epic King George

28 Jul 2018

Five-year-old provides Sir Michael Stoute with a record sixth success on Ascot feature.

Stablemates Poet’s Word, right, and Crystal Ocean are locked together at the end of a thrilling King George. Picture:

Poet’s Word provided Sir Michael Stoute with a record-breaking sixth success in the £1.25 million QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Disappointment that Cracksman was declared a late non-runner, because of the fast ground, evaporated as Poet’s Word and James Doyle ensured a memorable ending in mastering stablemate and favourite Crystal Ocean.

Having tracked the early pace cut out firstly by Salouen, then Rostropovich, it was to be the Newmarket handler’s eventual runner-up that would be the first to set sail for home, shortly after entering the home straight in the Group One prize.

For a moment it looked as though Doyle had given the Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner too much to do to catch William Buick and Crystal Ocean, but after reducing the gap the pair fought out a colossal final-furlong battle, before the 7-4 shot prevailed by a neck.

The pair pulled nine lengths clear of Coronet, with Salouen another four lengths back in fourth.

Stoute, who first won the King George in 1981 with the mighty Shergar, said: “It was pity there was a loser. That’s how you sum it up. Doyle could have done a little bit better and got a dead heat!

“They are two such admirable horses and it’s delightful to train them. I always felt he wouldn’t get there until the last 100 yards or so.

“It’s a great mid-season race and we’ve been lucky enough to do well in it. It’s a great team effort, you have no idea how much they put into these horses.”

After clinching his first Irish Oaks last weekend aboard Sea Of Class, it was another landmark victory for the winning rider, who was claiming his inaugural victory in the mile-and-a-half prize.

Doyle said: “You’ll be doing well if there’s a happier fellow today than me.

“He’s a star, there were questions over his best trip, what’s his best trip now? Winning the King George over a mile and a half – he’s so versatile.

“I left him a bit of a task, they went quick and I didn’t want to start chasing a position. It looks great, but if I’d been beaten a neck I’d have been really frustrated.

There was a slight sting in the tail for both Doyle and Buick, after the stewards inquired into their use of the whip from around a furlong and a half out. Doyle was handed a four-day ban and Buick suspended for two days.