Cracksman romps clear in the Champion Stakes to give Frankel first European G1 winner

Filed on 23 Oct 2017 @ 12:55

Cracksman's (Frankel) brilliant 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 last two starts at Group Two level, but this was his debut triumph at the very highest level.

Gosden said: "Cracksman is very talented. He loves rearing up and did that in the saddling box beforehand. They went a sensible place and Ryan [Moore, riding Highland Reel] went the Willie Carson route [on the far side of the track].

"Frankie rode Cracksman beautifully and positively in the straight. We said to come wide because the inside has been used a lot today.

"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, and I think it is his first Group One in Europe as well, so that's exciting."

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."

Following up on his success in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Frankie Dettori notched up a winning 22.6-1 G1 double in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot. He and the John Gosden-trained favourite Cracksman scored by a resounding seven lengths in the 10-furlong feature contest worth 1.3 million pounds.

"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. 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.

"I was surprised at the way he's travelled today because he can flop around a bit but he's learning and getting stronger. 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."

Cracksman is a four-year-old son of 2012 Champion Stakes winner Frankel and he was the sire's first G1 winner in Euurope.

"I felt the horse was in tip top shape so when the rain came I was delighted - the real test of stamina really helped as well," said Dettori. "But the horse still had to deliver and he did. I'm made up. With Enable and Cracksman, what a year, I'm delighted.

"It is my first Champion Stakes and Cracksman put it to bed in the style of a champion.

"John made a fantastic plan for him and the horse has got the success he deserves. It is Frankel's first Group 1 in Europe. It is fantastic."

Filed on 23 Oct 2017 @ 12:55