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Gosden: Cracksman would definitely have been in first three in Arc

John Gosden discusses his Ascot chances with the press in Newmarket this morning
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John Gosden is confident his Qipco Champion Stakes hope Cracksman would have finished in the first three in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which the Newmarket trainer won with Enable.

After much discussion, Gosden and owner Anthony Oppenheimer decided to miss this year's Arc with Cracksman and aim him instead at the Ascot Group 1 next Saturday, in which Gosden is hoping to avoid another wide berth.

For the past two years Gosden's Jack Hobbs, who may yet join his stablemate for a third crack at the 1m2f showpiece, has come up short from a high draw, most memorably from stall 12 when third in 2015.

Cracksman has registered Group 2 wins over a mile and a half on his latest two runs and will be dropping in trip for the first time since winning the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom, but Gosden is more concerned with other factors.

He said: "He's won over a mile and a quarter this year and is actually bred to be a miler, so we're hoping it works out. He's a stronger horse now, about 16lb or 17lb heavier than he was in April.

"We just hope we don't get another wide draw as that bend at Swinley Bottom comes at you pretty quickly and Jack Hobbs has had two bad trips around there already."

Of the decision to swerve Chantilly, Gosden added: "The way Enable was going before the Arc we thought it best to leave her alone in the race and bring Cracksman to Ascot, but he'd have been in the first three at Chantilly, that's for sure."

Cracksman, who is 3-1 favourite for the Champion with most firms, impressed in his latest workout on the Limekilns on Wednesday and could be on the verge of giving his sire Frankel his first European Group 1 win.

Gosden said: "We'll take our chance and it seems silly to pass up the opportunity as he would be a bugger to ride out in the winter without it as he likes rearing up and playing around. I would have to ride him out myself!"

Cracksman is one of four major players for Gosden at next Saturday's Qipco-sponsored British Champions Day and two of them are in the Group 1 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, in which Journey will attempt to repeat last year's win before she heads for the breeding sheds.

The five-year-old, who also finished runner-up in the mile-and-a-half contest in 2015, will be joined by her younger stablemate Coronet, who returns to the scene of her win in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

Gosden said: "Journey has had a light campaign but ran a fabulous race to be second in the Prix Vermeille last time and still seems full of vitality. Coronet ran well against the boys in the St Leger and we know she likes the track."

Gosden also won the Group 2 British Champions Long Distance Cup two years ago with Flying Officer and is back for more with Stradivarius, who was third in the St Leger on his latest outing.

The trainer said: "Stradivarius ran a marvellous race in one of the strongest Legers for many years. He's in good form still and we hope to run him but only if it's good ground or quicker. If it comes up soft we'll save him until next year."

The way Enable was going before the Arc we thought it best to leave her alone in the race and bring Cracksman to Ascot
E.W. Terms
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