Sir Michael Stoute has his fingers crossed that either Crystal Ocean or Poet’s Word can provide him with another landmark success at Ascot on Saturday in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Having become the winning-most trainer at the Royal meeting last month, the Newmarket handler aims to claim a record-breaking sixth success in the mile-and-a-half prize he has won before with the likes of the mighty Shergar and, most recently, with Harbinger in 2010.
Both Crystal Ocean and Poet’s Word were successful at the Royal fixture, with the former winning the Hardwicke Stakes and the latter shocking Cracksman in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
Stoute said: “They both seem in good shape and their preparation has gone well. They seem in good form. Touch wood, we are happy at this stage.
“Crystal Ocean is from a very good family. They are good, honest horses. I’ve not seen the final field yet, but he is entitled to take his chance for sure.
“Poet’s Word has been recording high levels of form and seems versatile over 10 or 12 furlongs.
“His preparation has gone well and again he has won at the track.”
Reflecting on his previous winners, Stoute added: “Shergar gave us an anxious moment – he was short of room on the turn for home – but he got out of that and still won impressively.
“Harbinger would have run to the best form figure. He was a serious machine that day. He kept progressing from the Ormonde to the Hardwicke to the King George – he just annihilated them.
“Opera House was a good solid performer. Conduit was a model of consistency. He was sound and won two Breeders’ Cup races.
“Golan, that was his first appearance of the year. It was a good feat, really. He won the Guineas the previous year and was second in the Derby behind that machine Galileo. He probably didn’t get the credit he deserved. ”
One rival the Stoute-trained duo are unlikely to face is Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Waldgeist, after his trainer Andre Fabre ruled the dual Group One winner out of the race on account of the quick ground.
He said: “I think he will skip the race, unfortunately. I don’t want to run him on fast ground.
“I will run him in a prep race for the Arc, then some back-end races abroad.”
Kew Gardens will spearhead the team bidding to give Aidan O’Brien a fifth victory as he attempts to claim a second Group One victory, having followed up his Ascot win in the Queen’s Vase when landing the Grand Prix de Paris at ParisLongchamp.
O’Brien said: “I was delighted at Ascot and we were delighted with his run back at Longchamp.
“We were very happy with him before the Derby. That was a little bit of a blip for us and we felt that wasn’t his true running.
“When he went to Ascot we always thought he would stay. He is a progressive horse and physically he is doing well and he seems to be stepping up with every run.
“We had our eye on the King George for a long time, as he is a horse that likes fast ground.”
John Gosden, meanwhile, remains on weather-watch for Cracksman, and is downbeat about the prospect of him running.
He told At The Races: “Cracksman will be looking for thunderstorms, which seem extremely unlikely.”
Coronet, who came within a nose of claiming her first Group One success in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud at the start of the month, is a more likely runner, but Gosden feels she needs to raise her game to topple the Stoute pair.
He said: “Coronet is in good form and she ran great at Saint-Cloud, so she’s a possibility for the race at this stage.
“She’s got a bit to find with Hardwicke winners and Prince of Wales’s Stakes winners, that’s for sure. They set the standard in the race and I’m sure the market will reflect that.”