Sir Michael Stoute claimed his sixth win in the King George at Ascot as Poet's Word reeled in stablemate Crystal Ocean in the shadows of the post to score by a neck, with nine lengths back to the third. The runner-up is featured in the Top 40 Prospects of Ahead On The Flat but there were no excuses. Given a fine ride by William Buick, he struck for home and looked all over the winner only to be collared by his older rival. The winner is a smart horse who is effective over ten and twelve furlongs - both the winner and runner-up have been brilliantly campaigned by Stoute. It may not have been a vintage renewal but the pair were head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
David O'Meara has won three of the last seven renewals of the Great St Wilfred Stakes at Ripon (18th August) and the inform North Yorkshire trainer may have a prime candidate for the 2018 edition in the improving Summerghand. The son of Lope De Vega has always been held in high regard but hadn't lived up to expectations as a three year old. Gelded during the winter, he has progressed from a mark of 78 in the spring to his current rating of 95. A four times winner this term, he produced a career best effort in the Skybet Dash at York on Saturday finishing strongly in third behind the Tim Easterby pair Flying Pursuit and Golden Apollo. The first two home emerged from stalls 6 and 1, while Summerghand came from the unfavoured stands side in stall 18. It was a cracking run, especially as he is arguably even better on a livelier surface. The fourth home Growl (stall 16) isn't an easy horse to catch right and, once again, he flattered to deceive in fourth. Richard Fahey's gelding carried plenty of stable confidence on the Knavesmire but, having travelled strongly, his effort petered out late on. He looks worth a try over shorter which brings the five and a half furlongs handicap at York's Ebor Festival (22nd August) and the Portland Handicap at Doncaster (15th September) into the reckoning.
Following an enjoyable, albeit wet, evening at York on Friday, where Tom Jones was the most significant non-runner due to travel problems, I have spent most of Saturday typing up the stable interviews for One Jump Ahead. Thus far I have conducted interviews with Philip Hobbs, Tom Lacey, Harry Fry, David Pipe and Donald McCain. I will be spending most of Sunday typing up the last named's interview, which I conducted on Thursday. It is great to see Donald enjoying plenty of success once again following the removal of the Rooney horses a couple of years ago. The Cheshire based handler sent out 98 winners last winter and, with Brian Hughes recently installed as stable jockey, the good times may be about to return for the Grand National winning trainer. Declan Phelan emailed me his article re Irish Pointers on Friday evening as well - there are some very exciting young prospects amongst the list. His piece alone whetted my appetite for the season ahead.
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