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Cracksman star turn as Frankel progeny make up half the field

Cracksman : one of four Frankel representatives
1 of 1

3.00 York
Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes l 1m4f l G2 l ITV/RUK

Stand by for a Frankel fest five years on from the superstar's devastating triumph in the Juddmonte International as four of his offspring do battle in this intriguing warm-up for the main event.

Of the quartet, who make up half the field, most eyes will be on Cracksman, who is many people's idea of an Ebor meeting banker.

John Gosden has long had this race in mind for Sir Anthony Oppenheimer's homebred, who is a bit unlucky not to be billed a Derby winner having finished third at Epsom before going even closer when a neck second to Capri at the Curragh.

After a break in July, Cracksman has looked better than ever in his recent work on the Newmarket training grounds and Gosden is already playing the long game by suggesting this could be his last outing of 2017.

There is no Capri lying in wait this time as he scoped poorly at the weekend – and the pair will not clash in the St Leger either as Cracksman is not entered for Doncaster.

Cracksman was available at 7-4 over the weekend for the Voltigeur but is now odds-on – something that dismays Gosden.

He said: "Cracksman is a stupid price as there are some nice colts in the race and he shouldn't be odds-on. He's happy and well in himself and we freshened him up after his race in Ireland.

"It's always been the plan to come here and he won't mind if they get any showers before racing "

 
Dancer steps into unknown

Of the other three Frankels, Mirage Dancer is very much stepping into the unknown for Sir Michael Stoute after his third in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes last time.

Running for the same combination that landed the spoils with Sea Moon in 2011, Khalid Abdullah's colt is the least experienced in the field and is not bred to get the trip as his dam is by sprinter Green Desert.

Stoute said: "We’re just leaving nice gaps between his races. He's progressive. We like the horse and he keeps improving but this trip would be as far as he'd ever want to go.”

Also bringing Royal Ascot form to the table – and nailed on to get the distance – is the Andrew Balding-trained Count Octave, who turned in his best effort when chasing home subsequent Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius in the Queen's Vase.

Balding said: "He's in good form at home and looks to be improving all the time. Dropping back from a mile and six would be my main worry."

Making up the Frankel four is Atty Persse, who got the sire on the Royal Ascot scoreboard for the first time when landing the King George V Handicap.

He has fared less well since and trainer Roger Charlton said: "He's becoming a little bit difficult to place and it looks a competitive race. However, the fast ground and galloping track should suit him well." 

O'Brien bids for repeat with trio

Venice Beach, who stayed on well for third place in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris on his most recent start, heads a trio of Aidan O'Brien-trained colts in a race he has won three times, most recently with Idaho a year ago.

O'Brien said of Ryan Moore's mount: "We were delighted with his run at Saint-Cloud. He's been in good form since and we think York should suit him well."

Seamie Heffernan, successful on Idaho 12 months ago, partners Spanish Steps, of whom O'Brien said: "He was very green when we ran him in a Group 1 in France two runs back but he learned a lot and won the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown last time, when we let him roll along. We think he's improving."

Completing the Ballydoyle challenge is the Wayne Lordan-ridden Douglas Macarthur.

O'Brien added: "He had a break after running fifth in the Irish Derby and is just ready to start back. We're putting on a hood to keep him relaxed."

Seen you before

Khalidi takes on former stablemate Cracksman on his first start since his recent move from Gosden to Clive Cox.

Owner Nizar Aswar decided on a change of scenery for the Royal Ascot runner-up after his second to Crystal Ocean in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.

Cox said: "We're just getting to know the horse really but this looks the right race for him, and we know he stays well."


VOLTIGEUR WINNERS IN ST LEGER
Since 2000

Year Horse                Doncaster position

2001 Milan                   WON

2002 Bandari                  3rd

2004 Rule Of Law          WON

2005 Hard Top                 5th

2007 Lucarno                WON

2009 Monitor Closely        3rd

2010 Rewilding                6th

2011 Sea Moon                3rd

2012 Thought Worthy       6th

2015 Storm The Stars       4th

2016 Idaho      Unseated rider


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He is a stupid price as there are some nice colts in the race and he shouldn't be odds on
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