'I thought he was home and hosed' - emotional Kirk rues Salouen defeat
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a tale of two horses from very different backgrounds coming together to serve up a simply stunning horse race which left the trainer of the runner-up experiencing the full gamut of emotions in the 2m38.49s it took for Cracksman to finally crack his heroic underdog Salouen.
"We knew we were punching above our weight," said Salouen's trainer Sylvester Kirk, who has never trained a Group 1 winner but almost beat the highest-rated horse in Europe handled by two of the sport's most dominant forces in John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
As Silvestre de Sousa set sail for home, with Dettori seemingly in trouble on Cracksman, Kirk admitted he had allowed himself to dream before his stable star was reeled in by a head.
"I'd have settled for second beforehand but now I'm disappointed because I thought he was home and hosed," he admitted.
"I don't usually count my chickens but a furlong out I thought he'd win – Cracksman was labouring and looked under pressure from a long way out.
"It's lovely to see the horse do what we thought he was capable of. I'm delighted with him. He's jumped out in front, almost made every yard and we just happened to be beaten by a really good horse."
Kirk, with sentiment swinging from pride to dejection, added: "Fairytales happen to people...oh, s***, I've got choked up."
Salouen's Sri Lankan owner Rohan Balasuriya was in attendance and, buoyed by this near miss, is understandably aiming big.
Balasuriya said: "We had nothing to lose. I always believed he was a good horse and we're aiming for the Arc."
He added: "I must give great thanks to Sylvester, who has stood by me," before Kirk interjected: "Stood by him? He's stood by me. When would I have a four-year-old rated 110 for god's sake. It's lovely to have a go."
On this evidence, Salouen is fully entitled to have a go in any race connections desire.
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