Five things we learnt on Saturday: Cracksman looking increasingly likely to skip Arc

By Geoffrey Riddle@Louchepunter
Sat 23 Sep 2017

By Geoffrey Riddle

Cracksman looking more likely to head to Ascot:

John Gosden was at Newbury on Saturday to oversee the smooth victories of Fennaan and Emaraaty in the opening two races but he remained tight-lipped about the prospects of Cracksman running in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly next Sunday.

The Arc market continues to flummox the oddsmakers, with the Prix Niel winner as short as 3-1 with Skybet and BetVictor, while Paddy Power make the three-year-old as big as 10-1. Hot favourite, and Cracksman’s stablemate, Enable is as short as 8-11 but you can still get Evens with bet365 and William Hill.

No sooner had Emaraaty provided Gosden with a quick-fire double after the 1.45pm, Coral were quick to report at 2.10pm that they had cut Cracksman to 7-2 from 6-1 for Qipco British Champions Day.

For the record, Gosden told reporters: “I’ve got to speak to Mr Oppenheimer, but a decision will be made this weekend.” Hardly a promising sentence.

Coral’s David Stevens said: "Connections have yet to say whether or not Cracksman will run again this season, and if so where, but the money we've seen for the colt for the QIPCO Champion Stakes was significant enough for us to make him favourite for the Ascot race at this stage, and as a result of that market move, Enable is now odds-on to triumph at Chantilly next weekend.”

Whether Coral are spinning a nice line or not, their rivals moved with them with bet365 and William Hill both cutting Cracksman to 5-1 and 4-1 respectively. Bet Victor remain the best price at 6-1.

The first forfeit stage is on Monday.

Take Cover take a bow:

Evergreen winners stir the soul and there was not a more inspiring performance on Saturday than that of the 10-year-old Take Cover at Newbury.

The veteran sprinter came out of the gates possibly faster than he ever had in his previous 39 runs and put his rivals to the sword with a tremendously game performance. Cotai Glory, last year’s winner, was second to give the form a rock solid look and it is possible that the son of Singspiel is actually better than ever.

David Allan was supposed to be riding at Ayr, but benefitted from their abandoned waterlogged meeting to replace Harry Bentley and post his fourth victory on the tough old sprinter.

Trainer David Griffiths revealed that Take Cover is not going to run in the Prix de l’Abbaye on Arc day at Chantilly because he has issues with the stalls and his blindfold. Ireland looks the most likely possibility before another campaign next year.

Desert Encounter being primed for foreign assignments:

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David Simcock is looking at the Canadian International at Woodbine next month for Desert Encounter after the five-year-old gelding struck in style in the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

Desert Encounter was held up by Sean Levey, who produced his mount with perfect timing for a late charge up the inner to hold off old rival Second Step by a neck.

He look flattered by his Coral-Eclipse third in July behind Ulysses and Barney Roy. That view was underlined at Ascot when he was thumped in the Enable’s King George a few weeks later, but he travelled beautifully in Berkshire and looks to be improving.

While Simcock also mentioned that the Qipco Champion Stakes next month at Ascot is also a possibility – the horse is 50-1 with Betbright, a winter campaign in Dubai looks distinctly likely.

Simcock loves running horses at Meydan and Desert Encounter is owned by Emirati Abdulla Al Mansoori, who has had runners at the UAE’s flagship facility before.

The Group Two Dubai City of Gold on Super Saturday ahead of a tilt at the millions on offer in the Dubai Sheema Classic would be obvious.

James Garfield set to shoot for America:

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James Garfield broke the track record at Newbury on Saturday and provided trainer George Scott with a welcome victory in the Mill Reef Stakes.

Last week Scott had married Polly Gredley, from the family of the owners, so the pressure was certainly on and Scott's first Group winner bookended an unforgettable seven days the Newmarket trainer.

Scott immediately revealed that the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint was the plan, and the winner is now 7-1 with Paddy Power for the Del Mar contest.

As is Bill Gredley's modus operandi, James Garfield is named after the 20th American President, who was assassinated in 1881 on the East Coast. Hopefully his namesake can fare a little better on the West Coast on November 4.

Watch razor-sharp Ian Williams like a hawk:

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Not many trainers even consider running a horse twice in a week, but Ian Williams sent The Statesman in to bat again on Saturday after the three-year-old gelding’s success at Sandown on Wednesday.

The key was that in Esher The Statesman was ridden by Jim Crowley, but as a counterpoint to the 6lb penalty Williams handed the ride to 7lb claimer Manuel Fernandes with a devastating result. The margin of victory in the International Stud Book Committee Handicap was two and a half lengths.

It was a third win for the son of Zoffany since he joined Williams from Jamie Osborne’s yard in May, and judging by the manner of his victory there is more to come.

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