Breeders’ Cup: there’s no horse better qualified than this to run there this year

Poet’s Word (nearside) beating stablemate Crystal Ocean in Saturday’s King George at Ascot. Photo: Mark Cranham/

The horse pictured winning at Ascot above is Poet’s Word, and he’s now the best qualified horse in the world for this year’s edition of the Breeders’ Cup.

As the video below shows, the 5-year-old got up in the last strides to win the most prestigious middle distance race of the European summer on Saturday, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which made him the first horse to win more than one ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the World Championships at Churchill Downs on November 2-3. Poet’s Word had already taken the honours in last month’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, when he powered home 2¼ lengths ahead of 2/5 favourite Cracksman.

Poet’s Word has netted £1.134 million for the two victories, both of which assure the winner a place in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 3.

The King George was one of two ‘Win and You’re In’ contests in Britain over the past week - the other, the one-mile Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood yesterday, was won by Lightning Spear, who is now guaranteed a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Poet’s Word was given a Racing Post Rating of 128 for Saturday’s effort - the highest turf RPR in the world this year, although it falls short of the 130 given to Aussie supermare Winx after her win in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April. The RPR for that performance is strangely discordant at 117.

The King George was an immense personal triumph for legendary British trainer Sir Michael Stoute, who saddled not only Poet’s Word but also the neck runner-up Crystal Ocean. It meant a four-point week-on-week gain in the TRC Global Trainers’ Rankings, pushing Stoute back into the world top ten. He climbs two places to joint #9 (alongside Andre Fabre).

Stoute has a formidable Breeders’ Cup record, with seven victories, including four in the Longines Turf.

Saturday’s Ascot showpiece was also another feather in the cap of jockey James Doyle, currently the hottest rider in G1s in Europe after taking the Darley Irish Oaks a week earlier with Sea Of Class. Doyle, with a two-point gain, is now #17 in the TRC world jockeys’ standings (alongside U.S.-based Flavien Prat).

Poet’s Word’s owner, Saeed Suhail, is another significant climber, rising 12 places to #37 in the owners’ rankings after a four-point gain, as is his sire, the late Poet’s Voice, an extra five points moving him up a place to #21 in the stallion standings.

Fifteen international qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup are still to be run - one in Japan and 14 in Europe. Next up is the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques le Marois over a mile at Deauville on August 12 (another qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Mile).

International qualifiers so far in 2018:

Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf

Five qualifying races run have been so far, with these winners:

  • Poet’s Word, owned by Saeed Suhail and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who won the G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last week, upsetting hot favourite Cracksman. Poet’s Word is a son of Poet’s Voice (world-ranked 21).
  • Mikki Rocket, owned by Mizuki Noda, winner of the $3 million G1 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin in Japan yesterday. Mikki Rocket is by King Kamehameha (world-ranked 35).
  • Haras de Moro’s 3-year-old Quarteto De Cordas, a son of Rock Of Gibraltar, who won the Gran Premio Brasil over a mile and a half at Gavea this month.
  • Haras de la Pomme’s 4-year-old filly La Extrana Dama (a daughter of world #138 sire Catcher In The Rye), easy winner of the G1 Gran Premio 25 de Mayo, also over a mile and a half, at San Isidro, Argentina, in May.
  • Poet’s Word (owned by Saeed Suhail, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, and sired by Poet’s Voice, as noted above), who won the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Breeders’ Cup Mile

After the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood yesterday, six races have now been run this year, providing these qualifiers:

  • Sussex Stakes winner Lightning Spear, owned by Qatar Racing, trained by David Simcock and ridden by Oisin Murphy. The result will not be included in TRC Global Rankings data until next week.
  • Accidental Agent, trained by Eve Johnson Houghton and owned and bred by her mother. The son of Delegator (world-ranked 193) won the one-mile G1 Queen Anne on the opening day of Royal Ascot.
  • Two-time South African Horse of the Year Legal Eagle (by Greys Inn), winner (for the third time) of the G1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth in January.
  • Happy Clapper (by Teofilo), who took the G1 Star Doncaster Mile at Randwick in April.
  • Stud Don Alberto’s 4-year-old homebred Nuevo Maestro, who won the 1¼-mile G1 Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella at Club Hipico in Chile in May (he past the post second but was upgraded on the disqualification of stablemate Penn Rose for interference). Connections have indicated that Nuevo Maestro, a son of Ivan Denisovich, is a likely runner at Churchill Downs.
  • Mozu Ascot, a son of Frankel, who won the G1 Yasuda Kinen over a mile at Tokyo on June 3.

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf

Three qualifiers:

  • Stud Starbucks’ Smart Choice, winner of the 1¼-mile G1 Gran Premio Pamplona at Hipodromo de Monterrico in Peru. Smart Choice, who is being aimed at the Filly & Mare Turf, is by world #239 sire Grand Reward.
  • Drakenstein Stud’s Australian-bred 3-year-old filly Oh Susanna, a daughter of Street Cry, who took the nine-furlong G1 Carter Paddock Stakes at Kenilworth in January.
  • The Godolphin 3-year-old filly Alizee, a daughter of Sepoy, who won the G1 Coolmore Legacy Stakes over a mile at Randwick in April.

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint

  • Merchant Navy, winner of the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (six furlongs) at Royal Ascot. The Australian-bred son of Fastnet Rock (world #14) is owned by Coolmore Partners and the Merchant Navy Syndicate. 

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

  • Athough she qualifies for Churchill Downs as an international winner, Shang Shang Shang, who took the G2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, is all-American. The daughter of Shanghai Bobby (world #142) is owned by Breeze Easy LLC and trained by Wesley Ward. 

Breeders’ Cup Classic

Just the one qualifier:

  • Nonkono Yume, winner of the one-mile G1 February Stakes on the dirt at Tokyo. The 6-year-old gelding is a son of Twining.

Longines Distaff

The only qualifier so far:

  • Sinfonia Fantastica, a 4-year-old daughter of Cima De Triomphe, who won the G1 Gran Premio Criadores at Palermo in Argentina in May.

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