History was made at Royal Ascot on Wednesday as trainer Sir Michael Stoute won his 76th race at the Royal meeting, beating Sir Henry Cecil’s record, as Poet’s Word won the day’s feature race, the Prince Of Wales Stakes.
Before the race all the hype surrounded the hot favourite Cracksman who had easily beaten Poet’s Word when the pair clashed in the Champion Stakes at the track last October. But as the race today unfolded the warning signs were there as they approached the home turn with Dettori uneasily nudging on Cracksman while James Doyle on Poet’s Word was travelling well.
Doyle was happy throughout the race and later said, “they went a hell of a pace all the way. I could see Cracksman even after going a furlong was under pressure to hold his pitch….I thought, ‘I’m going easy’, and from Swinley Bottom to the home turn I was travelling all over him.”
In the home straight Cracksman was launched into the lead first but Poet’s Word loomed on his outside and when Doyle started to get to work on him he swept past the Gosden trained favourite and went on to register a two and a quarter length win, with a long eight lengths back to the third Hawkbill.
Stoute paid homage to the horse and to the staff at his Newmarket yard: “Poet’s Word is a very consistent, brave, sound horse. That’s what he is. A huge well done to all the staff because they’ve put a lot of work into a horse like this”
A son of Poet’s Voice, himself a Group 1 winner at Ascot when he took the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in 2010, Poet’s Word had already tackled Group 1 company four times without success but looks a typical Sir Michael Stoute improver and will surely be a force to be reckoned with at the top level for the rest of the season.
Stoute was unsure where he might be seen next, declaring that the horse is just as effective over a mile and a half as he was over today’s trip of a mile and a quarter.
It has been over 40 years since Stoute’s first Royal Ascot winner, Etienne Gerard back in 1977. That horse won the Jersey Stakes and it was somehow fitting that, later in the afternoon, Stoute followed up the win of Poet’s Word by landing a double, and his 77th Royal winner, courtesy of Expert Eye who took the 2018 renewal of the Jersey Stakes under Australian based jockey James McDonald.