Dettori hoping Ascot conditions don’t hamper Cracksman

Kew Gardens looks like Aidan O’Brien’s best chance of a sixth Vase victory

Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy at day one of Ascot yesterday. Photograph: Andrew boyers/reuters

Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy at day one of Ascot yesterday. Photograph: Andrew boyers/reuters

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Cracksman appears a standout for Wednesday’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes but his jockey, Frankie Dettori, knows only too well how fast summer ground at Royal Ascot can punish presumption.

 It’s a remarkably similar situation to what the Italian rider faced four years ago in the Day Two Group One highlight.

 Treve looked just as invulnerable on that occasion. The charismatic European champion had turned the previous year’s Arc into a rout. She started an 8-13 favourite at Ascot and struggled into a painful third, sore from muscles pulled on the fastest surface she’d ever encountered.

 Cracksman is Europe’s highest rated star on a similar official mark of 130 achieved over the course and distance last Autumn in the Champion Stakes.

 He has a pair of top-flight wins to his credit already this season, looking imperious in the Ganay and somehow dragging victory out of the jaws of defeat like a true champion in the Coronation Cup despite hating Epsom’s gradients.

 This is a colt who has matured into the real deal and looks a class apart from his half dozen rivals. The best of them is probably Poet’s Word who has seven lengths to make up from last year’s spectacular Champion Stakes rout. 

 That though was on soft ground. The Ganay was on good ground. This is the fastest surface Cracksman has ever faced. He might thrive even more on it. He might not. It’s the sort of uncertainty his trainer John Gosden acknowledges and which punters might do well to factor in to calculations.

 ”The ground rode very soft on Champions Day and this is a different ball game,” Gosden said. “This is summer racing on fast summer ground.”

Fast ground

Cracksman’s sire Frankel skipped over fast ground but his dam is by Pivotal whose stock often prefer cut. In his favour is opposition that doesn’t appear to contain a talent like The Fugue who skipped over the surface against Treve in 2014.

 Aidan O’Brien’s Cliffs Of Moher won’t mind the going but supporters are entitled to be wary of his habit of flattering to deceive. Circumstances may conspire to give Cracksman a royal procession or a scenario where he can be off his absolute best and still win. Either way he’s hard to oppose.

 The Dettori-Gosden team could also fancy their chances in the Jersey Stakes - now the final race on the card – with the progressive Purser.

 This colt featured in last year’s Solario Stakes at Sandown which has emerged as a classic piece of form given it was won by the Derby hero Masar from the Irish Guineas victor Romanised.

 Purser was fourth and without emulating the other two has indicated he is progressive including when just winning a Listed race at Newmarket last time. This represents another step up but Purser looks a horse on the up.

 Aidan O’Brien’s Jersey hopefuls Could It Be Love and St Patrick’s Day are among nine runners the champion trainer has on Day Two including three in the Queen’s Vase.

Ballydoyle trio Ireland’s champion trainer has won the Vase five times before including with a 33-1 stable outsider, Sword Fighter, in 2016. None of the Ballydoyle trio will be that price this time but Ryan Moore looks to have picked right with the Derby ninth Kew Gardens.

 Moore is on So Perfect in the Queen Mary which could see the O’Brien hope at least reverse Naas form with Servalan from last month. So Perfect was a heavy odds-on shot on that occasion but endured far from a trouble-free passage.

 Michael Halford won the Hunt Cup with Portage for Godolphin two years ago and tries to do the same with Saltonstall. David Marnane’s Settle For Bay is the other Irish hope. The 2017 Britannia winner Bless Him could be a danger to all back on fast ground.

Day Two Royal Ascot Irish Runners:

2.30- Queen Mary Stakes

Gossamer Wings (A O’Brien) .................20-1

Servalan (J Harrington)..........................9-1

So Perfect (A O’Brien)............................13-2

Yolo Again (J Murtagh)........................50-1

3.05- Queen’s Vase

Drapers Guild (J O’Brien)........................14-1

Kew Gardens (A O’Brien).......................3-1

Nelson (J O’Brien)....................................11-2

Southern France (A O’Brien)...................100-30

3.40- Duke Of Cambridge Stakes

Hydrangea (A O’Brien).................................6-4 Fav

4.20- Prince Of Wales’s Stakes

Cliffs Of Moher (A O’Brien)............................14-1

5.00- Royal Hunt Cup

Saltonstall (M Halford)...............................14-1

Settle For Bay (D Marnane).................................16-1

5.35- Jersey Stakes

Brother Bear (J Harrington) ............................10-1

Could It Be Love (A O’Brien)............................7-1

St Patrick’s Day (A O’Brien)..............................20-1

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