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Friday, 14 December, 2018

John Gosden and Aidan O'Brien face Stoute challenge from ten-time champion

John Gosden (right) and Aidan O'Brien may not have things all their own way in the title battle
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With Sir Michael Stoute building up a head of steam and 15 Group 1 prizes still to play for, at least one bookmaker is taking evasive action.

Fresh from a one-two in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and a Group 3 double at Glorious Goodwood, the ten-time champion is just a 9-2 chance with Coral to land another title and a first for nine years, having been 20-1 just two weeks ago.

Watch Poet's Word and Crystal Ocean give Sir Michael Stoute a one-two at Ascot

Stoute is quoted no shorter than 7-1 elsewhere and is a 14-1 shot with Betway in a market dominated by John Gosden and Aidan O'Brien.

Coral spokesman David Stevens said: "Although John Gosden remains odds-on favourite to regain the title, Without Parole’s defeat in last week’s Sussex Stakes was a setback, while second favourite Aidan O’Brien is still not firing on all cylinders compared to his usual high standards.

"As a result, Sir Michael Stoute is the big mover, having been 20-1 before his King George one-two, and 6-1 going into Goodwood, so this is very much a three-horse race as far as we’re concerned."

Stoute won the title for the first time in 1981 and also came out on top in 1986, 1989, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2009.

Assessing the latest state of play, his friend Michael Holding, who has been on the gallops in Newmarket while Stoute is on holiday, said: "The key horses in the title race are Cracksman and Enable – if they turn up everyone will be in trouble, but if they don't it could be interesting.

"The betting has changed a lot since Royal Ascot when Aidan O'Brien was odds-on and Michael could be the value at 14-1."

He added: "There are still big meetings such as York and Champions Day to come, where the likes of Poet's Word and Mirage Dancer will be in action." 

One winner apiece at Goodwood left Gosden with a narrow lead over O’Brien in the prize-money-determined title race, which runs to the end of the year.

Gosden, who claimed the Goodwood Cup through Stradivarius, has so far earned £3.7 million for the season, up from the £3.1m at this point last year.

View the result and replay of Stradivarius's Goodwood Cup win here

O’Brien, who is bidding for a hat-trick of championships, is on £3.5m – significantly behind the £5.3m he had accumulated at this stage in 2017 and less than £350,000 clear of Stoute.

While O’Brien has earned high-profile victories through the likes of Saxon Warrior and Forever Together, they have been few and far between in comparison to previous years.

His record for the 2018 season is 13-139, a nine per cent strike-rate, whereas last year he boasted a 20-101 record.

Weather and fitness permitting, Gosden could have star four-year-olds Enable and Cracksman in action at York's Ebor festival, where the latter could go head-to-head with Saxon Warrior in the Juddmonte International.

O'Brien said: “At the moment we're looking at the Juddmonte International for Saxon Warrior next and then we will have a better idea of which route to take. He has entries in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Qipco Champion Stakes and could go for either race after York."

The £400,000 on offer for the St Leger could also prove crucial, with Lah Ti Dar seemingly Gosden’s main challenger, while O’Brien has Kew Gardens and Forever Together entered.

British trainers championship betting

Betway: 4-6 John Gosden, 6-4 Aidan O’Brien, 14 Sir Michael Stoute, 33 Charlie Appleby, 40 Mark Johnston

Coral: 5-6 Gosden, 11-8 O’Brien, 9-2 Stoute, 25 Johnston, 40 Appleby

SkyBet: 4-6 Gosden, 6-4 O’Brien, 7 Stoute, 40 Appleby, 66 Johnston

William Hill: 4-7 Gosden, 7-4 O’Brien, 10 Stoute, 25 Appleby, 66 Johnston

Where the title could be won or lost

York, August 22-25
Juddmonte International £1 million
Darley Yorkshire Oaks £350,000
Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sales £300,000
Sky Bet Lowther Stakes £225,000
Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes £350,000
Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes £225,000
Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup £225,000
Sky Bet Ebor Handicap £500,000

Haydock, September 8
32Red Sprint Cup £300,000

Doncaster, September 12-15
Weatherbys Racing Bank 2-Y-O Sales Race £300,000
William Hill St Leger Stakes £700,000

Ayr, September 22
William Hill Ayr Gold Cup £200,000

Newmarket, September 29
Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes £275,000
Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes £275,000

Newmarket, October 6
Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes £250,000

Newmarket, October 12-13
Bet365 Fillies’ Mile £500,000
Cesarewitch Handicap £500,000
Darley Dewhurst Stakes £500,000

Ascot, October 20
Qipco Champion Stakes £1.3 million
Qipco British Champion Sprint Stakes £600,000
Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup £500,000
Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes £600,000
Qipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes £1.1 million
Qipco Balmoral Handicap £250,000

Doncaster, October 27
Racing Post Trophy £200,000

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Sir Michael Stoute is the big mover. This is very much a three-horse race as far as we’re concerned
E.W. Terms
Sky bet