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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Gosden reveals Cracksman hit head in stalls before Coronation Cup victory

Cracksman grabs Salouen in the final moments of the Coronation Cup
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Trainer John Gosden has offered an explanation as to why Cracksman appeared off his game when only narrowly defeating outsider Salouen in Friday's Coronation Cup at Epsom, revealing that the colt banged his head in the stalls just before the race started.

Sent off the 2-7 favourite, the four-year-old, Europe's highest-rated horse in 2017, was on the back foot throughout the race, getting up only late under Frankie Dettori to defeat gallant 33-1 shot Salouen.

In the immediate aftermath of the dramatic victory, Gosden said he felt that Cracksman did not enjoy running downhill at Epsom, but on Saturday the trainer was able to shed further light on why Anthony Oppenheimer's son of Frankel took so long to rouse himself.

Watch: Cracksman get the better of Salouen in pulsating Coronation Cup

"Cracksman is fine this morning after his win in the Coronation Cup but it turns out that he had a bit of an ordeal in the stalls," said the trainer.

"The horse next door got upset and Frankie said Cracksman lunged forward just before the stalls opened and gave his head an almighty whack, which is why he missed the break.

Flying Frankie: Dettori entertains the crowd with his famous dismount after Cracksman’s Coronation Cup win
"We had planned to sit second behind the leader, as he did in France, but that went out of the window and he must have run the race in a complete daze."

Following the narrow victory, bookmakers initially pushed Cracksman out to as big as 3-1 for the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, but then adjusted their prices, shortening him back to a general 5-4.

Gosden added: "He ate up well last night and we are still pointing towards Royal Ascot, but a definite decision will be taken nearer the time."

All roads lead to the Arc for Salouen

Trainer Sylvester Kirk is keeping all option open as he plots a route to the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with Salouen.

Salouen has not won since 2016 but gave Cracksman an almighty scare to leave connections dreaming of Group 1 glory.

Kirk said: "The owner would like to go to the Arc and we'll try to find the best route. He's in the Hardwicke, which is a Group 2 but would probably be as tough [as the Coronation Cup]. We'll have to have a think.

"He hasn't won since he was a two-year-old so it would be nice to go and win a little race with him somewhere."

I thought he was home and hosed – Kirk rues Salouen defeat

Kirk displayed mixed emotions in the aftermath of Salouen's near miss but was focusing on the positives on Saturday.

He added: "Salouen couldn't have come out of the race any better and is jumping out of his skin. It was a delight to see him in the paddock this morning.

"Looking back it was of course disappointing not to win a first Group 1 – and beating the best horse in Europe would have been special – but I'm still over the moon and delighted he showed he's a nice horse."

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He must have run the race in a complete daze. He ate up well last night and we are still pointing towards Royal Ascot
E.W. Terms
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