Cracksman and Defoe on course for Arc run provided ground not quick

By Geoffrey Riddle@Louchepunter
Sun 9 Sep 2018

Cracksman remains on course for a tilt at the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe next month, providing the weather plays its part.

The four-year-old’s best performances have all been on rain-softened ground and he is undefeated in three starts on soft ground, which includes his seven-length demolition of subsequent Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and King George winner Poet’s Word in the Champion Stakes in October.

Cracksman is entered in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes, for which he is a 7-1 chance, but is also the same price for the Arc and 5-1 to defend his crown at Ascot.

“He is great form but he does need plenty of rain,” trainer John Gosden said. “I don’t want to run him (in the Arc) unless it is good ground, at least.”

The son of Frankel has not raced since he finished second to Poet’s Word at Royal Ascot, after which Frankie Dettori suggested he was "not the same animal” as in the spring. Gosden said after the race that he may have more than one eye on the fillies, too.

Cracksman was entered in the Juddmonte International, won by Roaring Lion, but was taken out of the York contest last month on the morning of the race when not enough rain had materialised.

Cracksman’s possible participation in the French showpiece means that jockey Frankie Dettori still has a decision to make as to who he will ride in search of his sixth success.

Dettori has a huge soft spot for Enable, who he guided to a styish victory over Crystal Ocean at Kempton on Saturday. With that filly now no better than 7-4 to become the eighth dual winner of the Arc, having been available at 9-4 on Saturday night, there seems little doubt the Italian will renew his acquaintance with the champion on October 7.

"That’s Frankie’s decision,” Gosden added. “He loves this filly though.”

There is one more piece in the jigsaw, however. Lah Ti Dar, who won the Galtres Stakes in such style with the Italian on board at York last month, is due to run in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp a week today.

Watch our split screen of the Galtres Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks

Dettori has ridden the former Oaks favourite in all three of her starts, and should she prevail next week it would at least give Dettori something to chew on.

Similarly, if she does put down a marker for the Arc, it remains to be seen then who will ride all three of Gosden’s possible runners at ParisLongchamp.

William Buick has had a long association with Gosden, and with Lah Ti Dar’s owner, Lord Lloyd-Webber, but is likely to be required by Godolphin for Arc dark horse Loxley.

Rab Havlin rides Cracksman in all his work at Clarehaven and was scheduled to ride him in the King George at Ascot in July, when Dettori was banned. However, Cracksman was withdrawn at the eleventh hour because of the prevailing quick ground.

Roger Varian is also hoping for a soggy spell in Paris and has not ruled out letting Defoe take his chance in the Arc should conditions be suitable.

The son of Dalakhani, who is a general 33-1 shot for the 12-furlong prize on October 7, ran well in defeat on his first start since May when finding only Best Solution too strong in a Group One at Baden Baden earlier this month.

The Newmarket handler said: “It was a good run by Defoe in Germany and he had a lot of things against him.

“Take nothing away from the winner as he is a solid horse, but unfortunately how the race panned out didn’t really suit Defoe.

“We will see how is, but all options remain open to him. He is a mile-and-a-half horse that likes a bit of juice in the ground, so let’s see how the autumn weather acts as that will tell us where we go.”

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