Poet’s Word etched its name and that of trainer Sir Michael Stoute into the history books with a pulsating victory in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) at Ascot on Saturday.
The five-year old wore down its stable-mate Crystal Ocean in the final furlong to score a record sixth victory in the event for Stoute, his first since Harbinger triumphed in 2010.
With the firm ground ruling out Cracksman who was withdrawn earlier in the day, the stage was set for a battle royale between Stoute’s outstanding duo of older horses.
In a titanic battle that recalled the 1975 Race of the Century between Grundy and Bustino in this race 43 years ago, the two market leaders put in a scintillating finish.
William Buick and Crystal Ocean looked to have stolen a march on Poet’s Word and James Doyle but the latter showed greater strength in the closing strides to win by a neck with John Gosden’s Coronet some nine lengths back in third.
"They are two such admirable horses and it's delightful to train them,” said Stoute, who last month trained his record 76th winner of the Royal meeting at the Berkshire course.
“I always felt he wouldn't get there until the last 100 yards or so.
"It's a great mid-season race and we've been luckily enough to do well in it. It's a great team effort, you have no idea how much they put into these horses.”
It wasn’t all bad news for Gosden, Cracksman’s trainer, when his two-year-old Angel’s Hideaway stormed to victory in the opening Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes.
There only ever looked like one winner as Robert Havlin steered his Cheveley Park Stud mount to victory by two and a half lengths from favourite Royal Intervention in the Group 3 contest.