Poet’s Word gives Michal Stoute a thrilling sixth King George
Stablemate Crystal Ocean edged out at Ascot as Aidan O’Brien’s pair are well beaten
James Doyle and Poet’s Word (R) edge out William Buick and Crystal Ocean. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty
Poet’s Word gave Michael Stoute a record-breaking sixth success in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes when he just denied his stablemate Crystal Ocean in an epic finish to the midsummer feature at Ascot.
Winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over 10 furlongs at Royal Ascot, Poet’s Word (7-4) edged in front in the last 100 yards under James Doyle, after 6-4 favourite Crystal Ocean had set sail for home in the straight.
Rostropovich and Salouen had set a strong pace from the outset, but Desert Encounter lost several lengths at the start.
Doyle had Poet’s Word at the back of the field and had plenty to do as Crystal Ocean, ridden by William Buick, was seemingly in a better position heading to the business end of the race.
Hardwicke Stakes hero Crystal Ocean went on, but Poet’s Word gave chase and nailed him close to the line to win by a neck. Coronet was third, another nine lengths away from the Stoute pair.
Poet’s Word joins Shergar (1981), Opera House (1993), Golan (2002), Conduit (2009) and Harbinger (2010) as a Stoute-trained winner of the King George.
It has been a fine couple of months for Stoute, with the triumph of Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s meaning he also set a new best for career winners at the Royal meeting, overtaking the late Henry Cecil.
He said: “Two wonderful brave athletes. The first reaction is you feel sorry for the one that got beaten. It’s taken a long time (to get the record sixth victory).
“It was a 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!”
He went on: “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 luckily enough to do well in it. It’s a great team effort, you have no idea how much they put into these horses.
“He showed in the Sheema Classic that he gets 12 (furlongs). I didn’t have any difficulty about the distance.
“I couldn’t split them and I don’t think the handicapper could split them.”
On future plans for the winner, he said: “I have no idea, we’ll go home and look at him for a week or two and think.”
An overjoyed 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 ended up following Coronet, which wasn’t really the plan, I wanted to be in front of her and if I had have been I think I would have won a bit easier.
“I left him a bit of a task, they went quick and I didn’t want to start chasing a position.”