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Brilliant Cracksman leaves Champion rivals gasping

21 Oct 2017

Like father, like son, as Frankel colt routs rivals by seven lengths in £1.3 million feature

Cracksman routed his rivals in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Cracksman’s stunning seven-length win in the QIPCO Champions Stakes will be long remembered for several reasons: the impressive way the John Gosden-trained colt pulled away from his rivals, the fact that it was his jockey Frankie Dettori’s first victory in the race – and that it was a first Group One success in Europe for Cracksman’s sire, Frankel, who himself took the QIPCO Champions Stakes in 2012.

The Anthony Oppenheimer-owned Cracksman, sent off the 13-8 favourite, had won his past two starts at Group Two level, but this was his debut triumph at the very highest level and nobody can have predicted the crushing nature of it.

Gosden said: “He’s improved through the year. He ran a blinder in the Derby [to finish third], was unlucky in Ireland [finishing second by a neck in the Irish Derby] but boy, with Capri the form was good, but he seems to have got bigger and stronger. He’s like a fighter weighing more now – if he started as a middleweight, he’s now a light-heavyweight. He handles this ground; he handles good to firm as well, which is great. He handled the ground probably better than anyone and he’s won in true style.

“He’s grown up a lot. He used to flip and flop about a bit. Coming down Tattenham Corner he got in a dreadful muddle in the Derby, but he’s learning to race. I trained his mother for Mr Oppenheimer and she was very tough. She got really good later in the year, and he’s one of these horses who’s got bigger and stronger. It’s great for Frankel to have a son who’s won the race he won.”

Asked whether he would have won the Arc, had he run in it, Gosden replied: “It was a difficult decision but I felt Enable was more in the zone, just a bit more streetwise than him. And Chantilly is not like Longchamp. Andre Fabre would tell you, often the best horse gets in trouble. I was happy with the decision we made and I think it was the right decision.”

Questioned about whether Cracksman’s future might be over a mile and a quarter, rather than a mile and half, Gosden said: “I think he has handled a mile and quarter well today. I think he is versatile now.”

A jubilant Dettori said: “He can be laid back but today he travelled like a good horse. I kicked on and he just galloped right away – it was a fantastic feeling. He likes the ground. But I must say the Oppenheimers and John Gosden have done a fantastic job – the horse was half the horse in the summer that he is now, he’s been given time to develop and this is what they got in return.

“Today is Cracksman’s day – don’t ask me which one’s best between Enable and Cracksman. The horse I rode at Epsom and the horse I rode today are two different horses.

“The Champions Stakes is a colossal race to win – my father came close and I came close a couple of times so it’s been bugging me for a while. But that was a dream performance.”

Poet’s Word was always prominent under Andrea Atzeni, but was no match for the impressive winner. Highland Reel (17-2) kept on well under Ryan Moore to finish a neck behind in third.