Gordon Stakes Preview: Crystal Has Clear Claims

The Gordon Stakes is a Group 3 open to three-year-olds run over a mile and a half, and is seen as a recognised trial for the St Leger at Doncaster, the final British classic of the season.

Gordon Stakes Preview: Crystal Has Clear Claims

The Gordon Stakes is a Group 3 open to three-year-olds run over a mile and a half, and is seen as a recognised trial for the St Leger at Doncaster, the final British classic of the season.

The last horse to complete the double was the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Conduit in 2008, though more recently Encke Horseform and Arctic Cosmos Horseform have proved defeat here is no barrier to success on Town Moor.

Stoute is the most successful trainer in the Gordon Stakes with an impressive nine wins, including with subsequent Group 1 winners Harbinger and Ulysses.

This year he has made only one entry in the shape of Crystal Ocean Horseform, who won a maiden in impressive fashion on his seasonal return at Nottingham in May. He was understandably aimed high after that, given the impression he made, and showed much improved form when finishing third in the Dante at York on his next start, arguably shaping like the best prospect in the field.

However, he only ended up taking a sideways step when finishing one and three quarter lengths third to Permian in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot last time, for all his Dante run and profile promised so much more. It remains very early days with Crystal Ocean Horseform, though, his immaturity compared to the hardened pair that beat him at Ascot last time visible. Plus, he made his ground quickly and wide when the pace was lifting on the home turn, challenging into the straight, but flattering out late on. The feeling remains that there is still improvement to be unlocked, and he could hardly be in better hands with that in mind.

Khalidi finished one place in front of Crystal Ocean at Royal Ascot, beaten half a length by Permian, and is a general second favourite for this race. Following his impressive five-length success in an 11f listed race at this course in May, John Gosden’s colt was an optimistic supplementary for the Derby at Epsom, where he failed to confirm his previous form and was never involved. He quickly dispelled that effort at Ascot last time, arguably running his best race to date, and appearing to be well suited by the test of stamina. Khalidi lacks the scope of Crystal Ocean, but he is reportedly being aimed at the St Leger, so needs respecting if taking his chance.

Ralph Beckett’s useful-looking gelding Mount Moriah is set to make his first start in pattern company following two impressive handicap wins this season. He showed near-smart form to complete a hat-trick at Ascot over a mile and three quarters last time by four lengths beating a similarly unexposed sort, showing himself to be equally effective away from soft ground. He also holds an entry in the mile and three quarter handicap at Goodwood on Saturday too, but he is clearly a three-year-old going places, so it would be no surprise were connections to try their hand in this race.

Another who could step up in class is Across Dubai, who held an entry in a mile and a quarter handicap at Goodwood on Thursday, but that option has seemingly been passed over in favour of this race. He looked well above average when winning a back-end maiden at Lingfield on debut, but he failed to meet market expectations on his return from six months off on his handicap debut at Yarmouth in May. However, he made a mockery of his mark at Haydock on his second handicap start last time.

The William Haggas-trained colt did well under the circumstances, easily overcoming the run of the race, breezing through from the rear with his jockey leaving the impression he was always confident he’d quicken by the leader. Across Dubai was value for much more than the one-length winning margin, and it says plenty that connections are willing to bypass valuable handicaps off what appears to be a lenient mark, in favour of this race.

Aidan O’Brien won this with subsequent six-time Group 1 winner Highland Reel Horseform in 2014 and Sir John Lavery is the shortest of his three entries in the betting. He is obviously held in some regard given his SPs this year, but the story is that he’s not doing what’s apparently expected, and he has a bit to find with both Khalidi and Crystal Ocean on his latest run at Royal Ascot.

This doesn’t look the deepest renewal, so it’s probably best to keep it simple and side with Crystal Ocean. The well-bred colt remains with plenty of potential after just four career starts, and he is fancied to set himself up nicely for a tilt at the St Leger by further enhancing his trainer’s already excellent record in this race.


Back Crystal Ocean for the Gordon Stakes at 6/4

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