|Tuesday 26th September 2017|
Cracksman Faces Major Challenge to Win British Champion Stakes
Source: ITV Racing via Twitter
The best horses in the flat season will converge on Ascot for the British Champion Stakes in one of the final races of the 2017 campaign.
The term has produced high-quality racing as a number of competitors have battled it out at the top of the docket to be remembered as the elite runner of the class.
Horses have had spells of dominance during the season, although one has never managed to pull away from its rivals.
There are few chances left to add a meaningful victory in the campaign and the Champion Stakes at Ascot offers grandeur as well as riches for the winning owner with a £1.3m purse.
Cracksman has been considered the leading candidate for the meet but it’s worth tracking his form ahead of the contest at Timeform to ensure that he’s worthy of the status come October 21.
John Gosden’s charge only made his racing debut last season in the Maiden Stakes at Newmarket. Although he was not the favourite for the one-mile event, he was able to claim the victory by one-and-three-quarter lengths with Robert Havlin in the saddle.
After a break for the winter, the Bay Colt returned to action at the Epsom Downs in the Derby Trial. On this occasion he was favourite for the event but rose to the occasion to deliver the victory by the shortest of margins, defeating Permian by a short head.
As a result of his performance, The Derby offered a chance for Gosden’s charge to cement his reputation as the rising star of the flat season. However, despite putting in a solid run in the meet, Wings of Eagles beat him for pace down the final stretch to claim the victory.
Cracksman had the opportunity to bounce back from his disappointment in Curragh in the Irish Derby. Although the Bay Colt with PJ Smullen in the saddle performed well to edge out Wings of Eagles, another one of Aidan O’Brien’s charges – Capri – defeated him to win the event.
York and the Great Voltigeur Stakes offered the chance for the three-year-old to get back into the winners’ enclosure. He was considered the favourite for the meet - albeit against a less-talented field - but he was able to taste victory by six lengths.
Frankie Dettori returned to the saddle for the second time on Cracksman in the Qatar Prix Niel. He delivered a fine performance to secure the win, although it was hoped that three-year-old would use the success to challenge at Prix L’Arc de Triomphe.
Source: OMH Media Turf via Twitter
However, owner Anthony Oppenheimer ruled out the race to focus on the Champion Stakes.
Cracksman is a fine competitor but has not faced the level of fierce competition endured by Barney Roy, Enable, Ulysses and Churchill this season.
Churchill started the season as the dominant horse of the group with victories in the early stages in the 2,000 Guineas and the Irish Guineas.
Barney Roy announced his arrival on the major scene with a brilliant run at Ascot in his first appearance at the racecourse.
The Bay Colt won the St James's Palace Stakes ahead of Churchill along with a talented group of horses. However, his time at the top does not last long as Ulysses took over the mantle by edging out Barney Roy by a nose at The Eclipse at Sandown Park.
However, Sir Michael Stoute’s charge was unable to force his claim to be the dominant horse of the season as he lost out at Ascot to the filly Enable in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes by four-and-a-half lengths.
Ulysses hit back with a fine performance in the International Stakes in York, finishing ahead of Barney Roy to notch his second victory of the season.
Cracksman enters the group of talented horses and the fierce competition at the top under pressure to deliver. Gosden will have him well prepared for the meet along with his stable-mate Enable.
It would not be a surprise to see the three-year-old emerge with the victory but, then again, the sheer amount of talent battling it out at the top end suggests that he faces a massive challenge to finish in the top three.
The Bay Colt and his team will have to rise to the occasion to deliver the victory at Ascot to potentially end his season on the highest of notes.