Racing: Rakti turns enforcer to muscle out rivals

It is an odd combination, that of Michael Jarvis and Rakti, a sort of nice cop, bad cop of the Turf. Yesterday they blended to produce a confession of brilliance as the Prince of Wales's Stakes found its way to the lodgings of their Kremlin House stables.

It is an odd combination, that of Michael Jarvis and Rakti, a sort of nice cop, bad cop of the Turf. Yesterday they blended to produce a confession of brilliance as the Prince of Wales's Stakes found its way to the lodgings of their Kremlin House stables.

Jarvis is a nice personality, at 65 Newmarket's longest serving trainer and a widely respected figure. Rakti is not, but is forgiven his cussedness because the wild horse takes his home combative tendencies on to the racecourse.

Rakti killed them off with his trademark pulverising burst of speed yesterday and fertile lands lie ahead. It was a clean blow in round one of the bout to discover which is the best older horse in Europe this year. The Eclipse and International Stakes now beckon and victory in both would earn the BHB summer Triple Crown and a £1m bonus.

But, to start at the beginning, Rakti, as usual, looked awesome in the parade ring yesterday, his huge, gleaming chassis giving the appearance that it could house a few Greeks. He ducked as he circled, crunching loudly on his bit. It was his way of showing who was in charge.

Powerscourt was smaller but also powerful and attended by a sombre group of connections. The tumbleweed is blowing through the lanes of Ballydoyle this season and even when the familiar Magnier colours were successful in the Queen Mary Stakes later in the day it was for the less celebrated Irish yard overseen by David Wachman.

Godolphin's Sulamani is a different beast this season and no longer possesses the physique of a dry-season antelope. The five-year-old now has a greater musculature, though he will never be gargantuan. These were the big three.

Rakti had to be forced into the stalls, but needed no help to force himself out. He emerged like a bullet in behind the pacemaking Lunar Sovereign and pulled Philip Robinson's arms violently from the outset. The jockey may now be able to tie his shoelaces without bending over.

Such early release of energy usually meets ultimate gasping failure, but Robinson was not massively concerned. "He's a keen-running horse, but that's naturally him, and if he was off the bit and settled then there would be something wrong," the jockey reported. "No matter how much rein you give him he sits there on the bridle. You could ride him on the buckle end with four foot of rein and he would take every inch of it."

The decisive move arrived just over a furlong out and it was effectively checkmate. Rakti employed his explosive rush and from then on the rest were playing futile catch-up.

Jarvis, who later captured the Sandringham Stakes with Celtic Heroine, was doubly relieved following Ratki's recalcitrance in the race and his indolence on the gallops. "He hasn't been working with his usual freedom, but I put that down to the fact that he's a year older and knows what's going on," the trainer said. "He's switched off a little at home and is more relaxed, but once he gets in those stalls he knows what the game's about and wants to get out."

"He's not straightforward this horse. He's a bully and he'll push you out of the box if he doesn't like the look of you."

"He's a powerful horse. As he's got older he's got stronger and he's got this wonderful burst of speed on fast ground.

"I'm lucky to have had some good horses [including the 1989 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Carroll House], but he's certainly the best 10-furlong horse I've ever had and I think he could win a good mile race."

Sulamani was fourth and Powerscourt second, which in the context of the fortunes of Aidan O'Brien's string this season was a screaming success. Sulamani's team had earlier won the Jersey Stakes with the impressive Kheleyf and were so taken with the display that the Sussex Stakes was quickly nominated as a future port of call. Kheleyf already appears to have a sensible chance in the Goodwood Group One. Unless Rakti drops back to a mile that is.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Thyolo

(Royal Ascot 5.30)

NB: Leicester Square

(Royal Ascot 4.55)

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