Royal Ascot record chapter and verse for Stoute

Pirate IRWIN

Ascot (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Michael Stoute enjoyed a great friendship and rivalry with another training legend, the late Henry Cecil, and on Wednesday he broke their joint record for the most winners at Royal Ascot.

Poet's Word reversed a seven length defeat by the previously peerless Cracksman to give 72-year-old Stoute his 76th winner in the Group One Prince of Wales's Stakes -- he was to make it 77 in the last when Expert Eye landed the Jersey Stakes.

The cricket-loving Barbados-born handler enagaged in a long exchange with Prince Charles and his wife and keen turfiste Camilla when they presented the trophy for Poet's Word's victory.

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Stoute, who amongst many other achievements has five Epsom Derbies, including the brilliant but ill-fated Shergar, was humble about his record.

"Henry's record was formidable because he accumulated them when Royal Ascot was a four day meeting for most of his career, I have had more five day weeks," said Stoute.

Stoute, who like Cecil was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, couldn't avoid resorting to his beloved cricket when asked why he had omitted the Queen's Ascot Gold Cup win as one of his memorable moments.

"Of course there was my win for Queen Elizabeth II in the Ascot Gold Cup with Estimate but that has been well documented so I thought I would change the bowling a bit," he said.

Dettori said the John Gosden-trained Cracksman -- whose previous run had seen him win the Coronation Cup unimpressively -- lacked any spark.

"He was very lethargic and never travelling at any stage," said Dettori.

"Obviously he is not the horse that I was riding in the Spring."

Expert Eye's victory was especially sweet for New Zealand jockey James McDonald, who served an 18 month ban for betting on a horse and only returned to competitive riding in May.

"I can't put into words what this is all about," said McDonald.

"This is what it is all about. I could never have thought 18 months ago that I would be at Royal Ascot.

"It is an absolute pleasure."

Gosden's fears over the chances of another favourite, Stream of Stars in the Queen's Vase, if Aidan O'Brien had several runners also involved, were fully borne out.

The Irish handler had yet to get off the mark after drawing a blank on the first day with Kew Gardens making up for a disappointing run in the Epsom Derby leading in his other two runners Southern France and Nelson, who had set sail for home a long way out.

Kew Gardens -- giving O'Brien his sixth win in the race and his 62nd Royal Ascot triumph -- is as short as 5/1 for the oldest classic, the English St Leger in September, although he may be seen sooner than that.

"If he comes out of this well we will consider the Irish Derby," said O'Brien.

"It is always a race we consider with these horses."

William Buick took his tally to two for the week, the Norway-born jockey driving the Marco Botti-trained Aljazzi home after the lead changed hands several times in the Group Two Duke of Cambridge Stakes.

Victory -- 29-year-old Buick's 22nd Royal Ascot winner -- turned the tears of frustration from Aljazzi finishing second last year into tears of joy.

Just as on the first day the opener went to an outsider from an unheralded yard, 25/1 shot Signora Cabello taking the Group Two Queen Mary Stakes for trainer John Quinn.

Jockey Oisin Murphy had to endure a nervewracking wait while the stewards looked at the photo-finish before he could celebrate his second ever Royal Ascot winner.

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