Can Cracksman be beaten? All you need to know about the Coronation Cup
Investec Coronation Cup | Group 1 | 1m4f | ITV/RUK
Cracksman provides a high-class taster to the Oaks when he stands in for sidelined stablemate Enable in the traditional senior highlight of the two-day Derby meeting.
Interestingly, the Investec Coronation Cup is a contest Cracksman's trainer John Gosden has never won, although supporters of the odds-on favourite are in safe hands as jockey Frankie Dettori has landed it four times, including on greats Swain (1996) and Singspiel (1997).
Cracksman looked increasingly like his sire Frankel in taking the opposition apart as a three-year-old, and the official best horse in Europe continued the trend with a highly impressive comeback win in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Longchamp last month.
Second in the early stages behind pacemaker Wren's Day, the race was over when Cracksman switched on the turbo in the home straight, and he strolled home by four lengths from that rival, with his main opponent Cloth Of Stars toiling in third.
Cracksman was not stopping over an extended 1m2f that day and it could be he will be even better when returning to a mile and a half here.
Gosden said: "This has been the plan with Cracksman since we found that Enable wouldn't make it, and he's been in good shape at home since the Ganay.
"We know he is quite versatile in the ground department – he goes on anything.
"It could be that they come to the stands' side in the straight but Cracksman is also quite versatile as regards tactics, and I'll leave that to the jockey."
Pros Clear of his rivals on ratings and ground should pose little problem
Cons Hard to find one but it could be argued he is not at his best on this track
Hawkbill back for another shot
Last year's third Hawkbill is back from Dubai for another crack at the race after his first Group 1 win in two years in the Sheema Classic at Meydan in March.
The five-year-old is on a career-best BHA rating of 122 after his three-length defeat of Poet's Word in the $6 million contest in Dubai, form which received a timely boost when the runner-up landed the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown last week.
Charlie Appleby's chestnut missed out at the highest level last year but looked back to his best at Meydan and this has been the plan since.
Although the son of Kitten's Joy won on a sound surface last time, he has handled soft ground in the past, notably when winning the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in 2016.
Appleby said: “Hawkbill is making his first start in the UK following his Dubai Sheema Classic win and he looks to be in great order. This was always the aim following Dubai World Cup night and his preparation has gone well.
“Cracksman will be very tough to beat but Hawkbill relishes soft ground, so conditions at Epsom will suit him.
"There appears to be no other front-runner in the race, so hopefully we can get on the lead and dictate the fractions."
Pros Comes here in top form and should handle the ground
Cons Bit to find with Cracksman on ratings
Idaho tries again for top-level breakthrough
Idaho, winner of the Ormonde Stakes at Chester last time, is out to give trainer Aidan O’Brien – already the most successful trainer in the history of the event – a ninth Coronation Cup.
Ryan Moore’s mount, who finished sixth in the race a year ago, is a brother of Highland Reel, who landed the event for Ballydoyle last season.
Like his big brother and former stablemate, Idaho has been campaigned around the world and has raced in seven countries – Ireland, Britain, France, Canada, the US, Japan and the UAE.
However, he has failed to win in 12 previous attempts at Group 1 level and will need a career-best if he is to land this prize.
Idaho was placed in the Derby and Irish Derby, and last year finished third in the King George after winning the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
O’Brien said: “Although he is five, Idaho appears to be progressing and we’ve been very happy with him since Chester, where he won very nicely.”
Joining Idaho in the line-up is the lightly raced Yucatan, who ran only twice last season and who finished third behind stablemate Cliffs Of Moher in the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes at Naas last month on his second start of the year.
O’Brien added: “Yucatan missed most of last season due to a setback but we were happy with his run at Naas and he’s been in good form since. It will be his first time going the distance and we’ll have to see how he copes with the trip.”
Idaho pros Plenty of experience and, although five, could be improving judged on his Chester win
Cons Running in his 13th Group 1 event and has yet to win one
Klug rolls the dice
Dual German Group 1 winner Windstoss, who on Thursday was available at 33-1 for the £420,000 race, won’t find underfoot conditions at Epsom a problem, having twice scored on going officially described as soft.
The four-year-old finished third to Oriental Eagle on good ground at Cologne on his reappearance and represents trainer Markus Klug, who said: “The Coronation Cup will be a very difficult race. If Windstoss can be placed we’ll be very happy.
“In Cologne he was not 100 per cent and was carrying more weight than the two who beat him. He was only a length behind the winner. It was okay for his first run of the season.
“Soft ground is good for our horse. He won the German Derby and Preis Von Europa last season on soft ground. I think he’s a better horse on soft.”
Sylvester Kirk, while fully aware of the task that awaits likely outsider Salouen, is happy for the four-year-old to take his chance under Silvestre de Sousa.
“It’s turned into a cracking race and Salouen faces a mammoth task,” said Kirk. “He’s in good form, though, after his Ascot reappearance, which definitely brought him on.”
Salouen regularly gave a good account of himself in smart company last year, including when second to Eminent in a Deauville Group 2 in August.
He also finished 13th over Friday’s course and distance in the Derby and contested the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse won by Ulysses.
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