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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

What they say: the inside track on the Group 3 line-up

Poet's Word (centre) bids to maintain Sir Michael Stoute's proud record in the Huxley Stakes
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2.25 Chester Huxley Stakes l 1m2½f l 4yo+ | ITV4/RUK

Sir Michael Stoute has trained the winner of the Huxley Stakes six times in 18 years and in the lightly-raced improver Poet’s Word he has another stamped with the yard’s hallmark. 

Raced just once at two, the son of Poet’s Voice has been carefully nurtured, showing promise when winning a handicap at Glorious Goodwood and returning to action this month with a convincing success at Chelmsford.

Handicaps are now in the past as the four-year-old takes on Group-class opposition for the first time.

Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail, said: "He won with a bit in hand at Chelmsford. He stays well and has flourished over the winter so we're hopeful. He went around Chelmsford okay and I don't think Chester will be problem.

"It's a competitive race and this is a step up, but he's a typical Sir Michael Stoute horse as a four-year-old improver. When he gets this type of horse he does very well with them."

More for Moore?

Another who loves the Huxley is Ryan Moore, who has ridden the winner four times in his last seven tries and partners Deauville for Aidan O'Brien, having his first runner in the contest since Await The Dawn won it in 2011.

Second in the Dante and winner of the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes, Deauville opened this season when second behind the Stoute-trained Ulysses in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown last month.

O'Brien said: "He's been in good form since running second in the Gordon Richards at Sandown. We think the trip and the ground will suit him well." 

Artillery ready to fire

What has been bad news for farmers, fish and Wincanton has not been such a blow to Royal Artillery.

The lack of rain that is drying up rivers, threatening crops and poleaxing race meetings is a blessing to the Coolmore-owned son of War Front.

His trainer, John Gosden, believes Royal Artillery’s flat fourth in the Gordon Richards should be discounted. 

The four-year-old was not far behind Almanzor on his previous start at Deauville in August and Gosden said: "He hated the ground at Sandown first time back as it was riding dead. He's more of a fast-ground horse so hopefully this surface will be better for him."


Having been caught late on by a fleet-footed finisher on his last two starts, including when headed close home to lose by a neck to Decorated Knight in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan, a drop back in trip might have been the obvious call for Folkswood.

But Charlie Appleby reads things differently. The trainer said: "Is he being headed late on because something is there with a bit more pace, or is he just not seeing it out? We think it's the former. We've always been confident he'd get ten furlongs.

"I was delighted with his run in the Earl of Sefton. He brought his Dubai form back to the UK, which is always pleasing to see. It's a small but very competitive field but we've got a nice draw and I see no negatives.

"He's a very well-balanced horse so Chester should suit him. There's a nice sweeping turn at Meydan and I'm pretty confident he'll handle Chester."

Back again

Gabrial returns for a fourth crack at the race, his best effort coming when he was third in 2013.  

Trainer Richard Fahey said: "He's a tremendous servant and ran a blinder behind Sovereign Debt at Sandown in the bet365 Mile. But he's back up to a mark of 113 because of that and he's yet to prove to me that ten and a half furlongs around here is his trip.”

Snoana, winner of a Pontefract handicap last month, is the outsider of the six for Tim Easterby but has the plum inside draw.

Stoute’s Huxley heaven

(race inaugurated in 1999)

2016 Cannock Chase Ryan Moore 11-4

2009 Doctor Fremantle Ryan Moore Evsf

2007 Maraahel Richard Hills 4-6f

2006 Maraahel Richard Hills 4-11f

2005 Maraahel Richard Hills 100-30f

2001 Adilabad Kieren Fallon 4-5f

It's a competitive race and this is a step up but he's a typical Sir Michael Stoute horse as a four-year-old improver
E.W. Terms
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