- Sire-Dam -
Cracksman established himself as one of the best middle-distance three-year-olds in training during 2017 and stole the show on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot when a stunning seven-length winner of the QIPCO Champion Stakes.
In the process, he provided Frankel with his first domestic Group 1 winner as a sire, plus he was a first winner in the £1.3 million showpiece for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
“He’s like a fighter weighing more now. If he started as a middleweight, he’s now a light-heavyweight,” Gosden said. “He’s improved through the year.”
Cracksman had surrendered his unbeaten record in the Investec Derbywvsywutssyaydusbbz but went down on his sword, being beaten three quarters of a length and a neck into third behind Wings Of Eagles and Cliffs Of Moher.
Frankie Dettori had to niggle a way some way out in the Epsom Classic but Cracksman responded gamely and was keeping on stoutly at the finish. Dettori picked up a four-day whip ban.
“I think Frankie [Dettori] found that the horse was still a bit immature mentally about the whole thing,” explained trainer Gosden. “A couple of times, Frankie had to galvanise him, particularly at the top of the hill – you could see his elbows moving a little, it was even picked up by the commentator.
“He was running a bit babyishly – maybe he could have done with that other race beforehand – but he has run a grand race, he was just caught out for experience and wasn’t beaten far. We’d be happy for a rematch – Cracksman is in the Irish Derby and it wouldn’t bother me going there at all, it is a nice galloping track and it would suit him.”
Cracksman did indeed take his chance at the Curragh and finished a short head in front on Wings Of Eagles (subsequently found to be injured) but it still was not quite enough for victory, with Capri holding him off by a neck.
He made no mistake next time, routing the opposition in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, before following up in similar decisive style in the Prix Niel at Chantilly. The came his demolition job on deep ground at Ascot, at the chief expense of Poet’s Word and Highland Reel.
“He can be laid back but today he travelled like a good horse,” said Dettori. “I kicked on and he just galloped right away – it was a fantastic feeling.”
Cracksman was again an emphatic winner on his return in 2018, when zipping clear in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp, having previously had a racecourse gallop at Newmarket’s Craven meeting.
He went off 2/7 next time for the Investec Coronation Cup but gave his supporters a huge scare, looking in trouble for much of the home straight and only collaring Salouen in the final strides to win by a head.
Gosden observed: “I don’t know why but he wasn’t comfortable during the race – it certainly wasn’t the horse we know. However, he showed guts to get up and win and that’s what I’m pleased about.”
It later transpired that Cracksman had thumped his head leaving the starting gate, Gosden suggesting he might have been dazed in the early stages.
However, he again raced lazily in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot 19 days later and Poet’s Word, no match for him in October, took advantage and beat him by two and a quarter lengths. Connections were left bemused, as were the punters who sent him off at 2/5.
“I think we need to concentrate his mind, as we know the ability is there,” Gosden said. “To my mind, he is just playing around a little bit. At no stage today was he travelling or carrying Frankie. The ability was there but I didn’t feel he was being exactly generous with it today.”
Owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer reflected: “That’s racing – you never can expect anything. He was never really going that well unfortunately today. I don’t know why. Maybe he has had enough racing or perhaps he is still feeling the effects of Epsom.”
Cracksman was then due to run in the QIPCO-sponsored King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot but he was scratched on the day of the race as the ground was deemed too quick for him.
He had won on his debut as a two-year-old, at Newmarket, and won the Derby Trial at Epsom in April on his return in 2017.
BCS Career statistics
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