Poet’s Word appears to have an outstanding chance of returning to winning ways in Thursday evening’s Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained five-year-old was last seen finishing second to Hawkbill in the Sheema Classic in Dubai, having previously filled the same position behind Cracksman in the Champion Stakes last October.
Sandwiched in between those two top-class efforts was a decent run in the Hong Kong Cup and this represents a big drop in class.
The Coronation Cup at Epsom was being considered as a possible target, but the prospect of facing Cracksman once more did not appeal.
“It looks a good race for him without a penalty,” said Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail.
“He’s effective at a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half, and Sir Michael has decided to go for this as an easier option before he goes to Ascot.
“We did toy with the Coronation Cup but didn’t really see the point in taking on Cracksman again, so we’re hoping he can win this.
“It will either be the Prince of Wales’s Stakes or the Hardwicke next, this might help us decide.”
Michael Bell’s Fabricate is second favourite having just been touched off by Stoute’s Crystal Ocean in the Gordon Richards Stakes last time.
Crystal Ocean franked that form at Newbury on Saturday, but Bell fears he may come off second best to another Stoute runner with the Queen’s horse.
“He should be bang there again, but unfortunately for us it looks like Sir Michael will be a party pooper once more,” said Bell.
“We’ll do our best and he’s in very good form.”
David Simcock’s Desert Encounter ran the race of his life to be third over this course and distance in the Eclipse last summer and later added a Group Three at Newbury.
Raymond is also manager for his owner, Abdulla Al Mansoori, and said: “Desert Encounter has become a very useful performer.
“While he faces a tough task against Poet’s Word giving him weight (3lb), David is very happy with him at home.
“The fact he’s returning to Sandown, and arguably his best race was in the Eclipse, is another plus.”
Owen Burrows’ Laraaib and Ralph Beckett’s Air Pilot complete the field.