Cracksman challenged to star
John Gosden hopes the decision to sidestep a clash with stablemate Enable will pay dividends for Cracksman in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.
Since he was placed in the Derby at Epsom and the Irish equivalent at the Curragh, Cracksman has looked seriously impressive when winning the Great Voltigeur at York and the Prix Niel at Chantilly.
He would have been fully entitled to line up in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe three weeks ago, but Gosden relied upon Enable and it looked a wise call after the brilliant filly produced an imperious display.
Gosden said: "The way Enable was going I discussed it with Mr (Anthony) Oppenheimer (Cracksman's owner-breeder) and we decided it was best to leave her alone in the Arc and to take a good look at the Champion and that's what we are doing."
Asked how he felt Cracksman would have fared in Europe's premier middle-distance event, the trainer said: "He would have been in the first three and I will leave it at that."
The son of Frankel reverts to a mile and a quarter for the first time since winning the Epsom Derby Trial in late April, but his trainer is confident the drop in distance is not an inconvenience.
"He has won over mile and a quarter and is bred to be more of a mile to a mile-and-a-quarter horse," Gosden added.
"I think he has got the pace for it, (but) you would not want a falsely-run race.
"He has grown up a lot. He's a bigger, stronger horse than he was in the spring and now weighs 17 kilograms more than when he went to Epsom in April.
"He's done nothing but improve all year, so it would seem rather silly to bypass a race of this importance."
Barney Roy has enjoyed a fine season for Richard Hannon and Godolphin, with his victory in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot supplemented by placed efforts in the 2000 Guineas, Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International.
Hannon is confident of another bold showing on British Champions Day.
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"Last year I didn't have a runner on Champions Day and basically went there for lunch," said the trainer.
"The Champion Stakes is a great race and even if I didn't have a runner in it I would be there to watch it.
"Barney Roy comes into this race fresh and well, having had a nice break since he ran at York.
"I just hope that we don't get too much rain, but we are very pleased with Barney Roy's physical well-being and he looks in great nick.
"We took him for a spin around Kempton Park last week, which he has done before all his previous runs this season, and James Doyle was very pleased with him.
"I just hope that we don't get too much rain, but we are very pleased with Barney Roy's physical well-being and he looks in great nick," the Wiltshire handler told www.godolphin.com
Sir Michael Stoute resisted the temptation to saddle Eclipse and Juddmonte International winner Ulysses, who now heads for the Breeders' Cup Turf at Del Mar.
In his absence, the master of Freemason Lodge relies upon Irish Champion Stakes runner-up Poet's Word.
Stoute said: "He will handle it with a bit of cut, but I don't want it too soft.
"It was his best effort ever in Ireland. I was thrilled with him and he has really progressed."
The Champion Stakes is one of the few major prizes to have so far eluded Aidan O'Brien, who sends six-time Group One winner Highland Reel and Cliffs Of Moher into battle this year.
He said: "Highland Reel is in good form. He's had a little break break since the King George (finished fourth) and seems in good form.
"It was very soft in the King George and hopefully it's not too bad this time.
"Cliffs Of Moher just got caught in traffic at Leopardstown (sixth in Irish Champion Stakes) but is in good form."
The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Brametot won the French 2000 Guineas and the French Derby earlier in the year and was fifth in the Arc at the start of the month.
Rupert Pritchard-Gordon, racing manager for owners Al Shaqab Racing in France, said: "Whether he's good enough to beat the likes of Cracksman we don't know, but if he repeats his form then he has a solid chance.
"He's got such a fantastic turn of foot and is so tough and honest that we felt if he came out of the Arc well then this would be the ideal race."
The other French challenger is Recoletos, trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias.
Ken Condon's stable star Success Days, David Simcock's Desert Encounter and Gosden-trained outsider Maverick Wave complete the line-up.
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