British Champions Series
In the latest of our series, we put the Prince Of Wales's Stakes and King George winner under the spotlight.
Races: 17. Wins 7. Champions Series Wins: 2. Prize money: £2,951,329
“A typical Sir Michael Stoute-trained improver”. A familiar phrase, and one certainly applicable to the trainer’s Poet’s Word.
He was at his peak last season, as a five-year-old, when he scooped two of the summer’s biggest prizes at Ascot and achieved an official rating of 127.
The Saeed Suhail-owned colt took the scalp of Cracksman in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal Meeting in June and the following month, over an extra two furlongs, won a memorable renewal of QIPCO-sponsored King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
A third successive Group 1 win evaded him on his next start, in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York, when he chased home Roaring Lion after finding some trouble in running.
Unfortunately, on September 18, it was announced the bay had met with a setback and would not be able to run again during the campaign. His subsequent retirement was something of an inevitability.
He began 2018 by travelling to Dubai and beating all bar Hawkbill in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic. It was the third time he had finished runner-up in a Group 1 race and it seemed he might be destined to keep coming up short at the highest level.
But then came his next start at Royal Ascot when, better than ever, he landed the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in fluent fashion in a fast time.
There was much attention on the lazy way Cracksman raced but Poet’s Word put him in place by more than two lengths, with another old foe, Hawkbill, ten lengths back in third.
James Doyle, who partnered him, added: “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 am going easy,’ and from Swinley Bottom to the home turn I was travelling all over him.
“It was just a case of hanging on and in the back of my mind I knew this horse stays a mile and a half, so I still wanted to press the button early enough. He is so tough and fair play to everyone at Sir Michael’s.”
Even better was to follow in the King George.
Crystal Ocean, his stablemate, was marginally preferred to him in the betting and the pair dominated a thrilling finish – Poet’s Word collaring him inside the final furlong and prevailing by a neck to give his trainer a record sixth win in the race.
Doyle was left frustrated next time, when Poet’s Word finished runner-up in the Juddmonte International after meeting trouble in running. He would have finished closer had he not met trouble but Roaring Lion, who won by three and a quarter lengths, was the best horse on the day.
It was still a fine effort by Poet’s Word, who had five other Group 1 winners behind him.
Bred by Woodcote Stud, Poet’s Word was a 300,000gns yearling buy by Charlie Gordon-Watson.
Brought along steadily at two and three (two wins from six starts), he began the 2017 campaign as a four-year-old running in a handicap at Chelmsford, albeit off a lofty mark of 104.
He ended it by finishing runner-up to Cracksman in the QIPCO Champions Stakes at Ascot, having been touched off in the QIPCO Champions Stakes at Leopardstown before that.
In between, he had won the Betfred Glorious Stakes at Goodwood.
Any shortlist of “best races of 2018” would have to include the King George. The mile and a half showpiece also provided Poet’s Word with his finest hour.
Cracksman was a late non-runner, on account of the fast ground, and that left a final field of seven. In truth, though, only two mattered a long way from home.
Rostropovich, one of two Aidan O’Brien-trained runners, set a strong pace shadowed by Salouen but all the time eyes were drawn to Crystal Ocean, the 6-4 favourite, who was cruising in their slipstream under William Buick.
Crystal Ocean swept to the front two out and traded at 1.01 in-running on Betfair but Poet’s Word, sent off at 7-4, was himself now in full cry and the pair engaged battle in the final furlong.
Poet’s Word edged ahead about 100 yards from home, only for Crystal Ocean to rally. At the line, the former had a neck to spare.
The only negative was that both Doyle and Buick were punished for breaching whip rules.
WHAT THEY SAID:
“You’ll be doing well if there’s a happier fellow today than me.
“He’s a star, there were questions over his best trip, what’s his best trip now? Winning the King George over a mile and a half – he’s so versatile.
“I left him a bit of a task, they went quick and I didn’t want to start chasing a position. It looks great, but if I’d been beaten a neck I’d have been really frustrated.”
James Doyle after the King George
“Poet’s Word was a very athletic colt with a grand temperament. He was also a great competitor who just continued to progress.”
Sir Michael Stoute paid tribute to the Racing Post
WHERE WILL HE STAND:
At Nunnery Stud in Thetford, Norfolk, for a fee of £7,000
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM HIS OFFSPRING?:
There’s plenty to suggest Poet’s Word rates good value as a stallion at an initial fee of £7,000.
He developed into one of the world’s top middle-distance horses, had a good temperament and an excellent attitude. James Doyle often remarked on what an easy ride he was.
There are several precocious performers in Poet’s Word’s pedigree but, if betting on it, you would assume his progeny will need time and a distance of ground to reach their peak. He himself ran only once as a two-year-old.
If his progeny take after him, they will be flexible regards ground conditions (he won going ranging between good to firm and soft) and more than at home at Ascot.