Cracksman and Dettori steal the show at Ascot

Cracksman and Dettori steal the show at Ascot
Frankie Dettori won his first Champions Stakes. (Reuters)
Updated 21 October 2017

Cracksman and Dettori steal the show at Ascot

Cracksman and Dettori steal the show at Ascot

ASCOT: Now we know. 
Cracksman had spent the whole flat season in Britain trying to live up to the hype but on a day when few champions put their hands up at Ascot John Gosden’s 3-year-old certainly delivered in the Champion Stakes yesterday.
Cracksman put seven lengths on Poet’s Word, a rising star, and the globe-trotting Highland Reel, a multiple Group 1 winner, and handed jockey Frankie Dettori his first victory in the showpiece event.
The three-year-old colt is a son of Frankel, the horse who scythed through the 2011 and 2012 seasons for 14 successive victories that culminated with a triumphant win in this race. Where Frankel had just scraped home on rain-softened ground, his hot-headed offspring relished the heavy going to post his sire’s first European Group 1 win.
“I had a cheeky glance at the big screen and he was clear. It was just a fantastic, a storming performance,” Dettori said. “There are lot of firsts today, and I had a good chat with Her Majesty. It was a good day all round.”
Dettori was referencing his win aboard Persuasive in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes 35 minutes earlier, but it has been a landmark season for the 46-year-old Italian rider overall. 
His association with Enable, Cracksman’s stable companion, has yielded wins in two Classics, a King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe three weeks ago.
Both horses could well meet next season back here in the King George in July, a prospect that could well force Dettori in between a rock and a hard place.
“To have Enable and Cracksman in the same year, I’m delighted,” he added. “I’ll tackle that decision next year!”
There were 21 individual Group 1 winners on show from the 80 horses that took part and it was one of the leading lights, Order Of St. George, who set out Aidan O’Brien’s stall in the opening race of the day.
 Last year Order Of St. George had finished third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, before chasing home Sheikhzayedroad in the British Champions Long Distance Cup. There was a week extra between the two races this season and it paid dividends as the giant five-year-old landed the Group 2 contest, but it was hardly plain sailing.
Outsider Torcedor had looked to have wrapped up the race entering the final furlong, but Order Of St. George had won a Gold Cup over four furlongs further last June and he kept on under Moore on the rain-softened ground. Stride by stride Order Of St. George inched closer and at the line there was suddenly half a length between them.
 “He never stops,” O’Brien said. “In any race he ever runs in he always finishes them. He’s tough and he’s hard, and sometimes the line comes too quick.”
O’Brien drew level with Bobby Frankel’s world record of 25 Group 1 wins with Hydrangea’s win in the Fillies & Mares, but it was not all about the world superpowers on the winner’s podium. 
Last year Robert Winston was thinking of quitting the saddle but then Librisa Breeze came into his life. The grey is no champion, but on the big day the five-year-old pulled out all the stops on ground he loves to secure a notable victory in the Qipco Champions Sprint.
 “This horse has more or less kept my career going,” he said. “I had given my notice but this horse came along and things have blossomed since then. It’s kept the dream alive, kept me in the game.
 “I’d say I’m still young enough as a flat jockey, I’m 39 although lots of people think I am 49 as I’ve been around so long.
“It’s a tough sport, and you need horses like this on the big stage.”