Cracksman returned to his brilliant best with a stunning defeat of Crystal Ocean in the QIPCO Champion Stakes.
His six-length winning margin over the King George runner-up just a length short of the distance by which he beat Poet’s Word 12 months earlier.
In the process he became the first horse since his sire, Frankel, to win at successive QIPCO British Champions Days. He now retires to stud the winner of eight of his 12 races, four of them at the top level, and more than £2.7million in prize money.
Cracksman was wearing first-time blinkers and Frankie Dettori seemed anxious to keep him motivated in the first half of the race. But when he invited the colt to put his stamp on the race early in the home straight the response was instant and Cracksman bounded clear.
Dettori spent the last half-furlong saluting in triumph.
“It’s super to have him back,” said trainer John Gosden. “He likes to get his toe in. He’s by Frankel out of a Pivotal mare and while Frankel won well on any ground a Pivotal mare is a bit of a clue.
“He won the Prix Ganay in explosive style and I don’t think he was quite the same after that – I think a few things were bothering him. He got very distracted at Royal Ascot by the girls coming back from the Windsor Forest and then we went for the King George, where it was too firm, and the Juddmonte [non-runner for the same reason] then packed in and freshened him up to come here, where he was back to his best.
“I’m a great believer in putting a little semi blinker on and have had a lot of luck with it down the years, having picked up the trick in America and most horses race in blinkers there. I can tell you the great Secretariat and Northern Dancer raced in blinkers. I don’t have a prejudice against them. Sometimes you need to focus their minds.
“When Cracksman is in the zone, he is a very good horse. I would think it is quite likely he will go to stud as he is a four-year-old turning five. He is Frankel’s best son and it is lovely to see him back with a bang.”
Dettori, for whom it was a second victory of the day, following Stradivarius’ win in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, said: “That is the old Cracksman back. He felt fantastic! What a horse he is – I love him dearly.
“Full credit to the owners and John for being patient. They were not tempted to run on firm ground and got the reward today.
“He did it on his own. The blinkers worked and he was concentrating. I kept him away from Rhododendron, the filly, and even in the first bit of the race I knew. It came good for me at the three-furlong pole and I knew we were in business. You know when you are going twice as fast as the others, and you have to celebrate.”
He added: “He was very lethargic in the summer – like one of those ponies of your kids’; you have to drag it everywhere. Cool weather, autumn, a bit of rain and he was back to his best today. I was able to put him where I wanted him. Usually he makes my life difficult but today I had a beautiful position.
“As the race developed, the more and more he came on the bridle, and turning for home he actually couldn’t wait to go. When he accelerated – not many horses can do it – I was able really to enjoy the scream of the crowds in the final furlong and raise my arm in the last 100 yards.
Crystal Ocean could not match the devastating turn of foot displayed by Cracksman in the home straight.
Jockey William Buick said: “Crystal Ocean ran a good race, but Cracksman won very impressively today.
“He looked today the same Cracksman as he was last year with an equally impressive performance. I was in a little bit of a tricky spot coming into the straight, but it opened up for me and Crystal Ocean ran a good race.
“He is a nice horse who is very effective over a mile and a half.”
Subway Dancer provided the shock of the race when finishing third at 66/1, edging out Capri for that position.
The seven-year-old gelding, trained in the Czech Republic by Zdeno Koplik and ridden by his brother Radek, scooped almost £120,000 in prize money for third.
Radek said: “It was a very good race and my horse ran very well, so I’m happy.”