Cracksman delivers for sire Frankel as Dettori stars at Champions Day

Cracksman delivers for sire Frankel as Dettori stars at Champions Day
By Sportsbeat

21/10/2017 at 20:34

There is often a struggle between a father and son, especially as the youngster seeks to step from the shadows and strike out for independence, writes James Toney.

Frankel was unbeaten in his 14-race career and, five years after his retirement, one of his offspring finally delivered a European Group One success for their sire, fittingly in the same Champion Stakes where he called it quits.

Fathers will always want better for their sons and while Cracksman is not in the class of dad, his seven length Ascot victory did eclipse Frankel's two length win here back in 2012.

And the performance, both brilliant and breathtaking, set up another flying dismount celebration for jockey Frankie Dettori, who moments before had also won the showpiece Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Persuasive.

Aidan O'Brien's world record equalling 25th Group One success of the season, secured by Hydrangea in the Fillies And Mares Stakes, should really dominate the headlines.

But this is Ascot, where fans' favourite Dettori, 46, is feted and feared in equal measure, sending Cracksman searing clear with a flick of the heels and instantly turning the race into a procession.

Trainer John Gosden has long maintained he had big hopes for this horse. He raced a little green at The Derby earlier this year, when sent off as favourite, but has got better and better as the season progressed.

Heading into the winter, the only middle-distance three-year old who looks more impressive is Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe-winning stable companion Enable.

And what price a showdown between them in Longchamp in a little under 12 months time, the prospect of which seems too giddying to take.

"It is great for Frankel to have a son win this race. He ­really has improved as the season has gone on," said Gosden.

"He's like a boxer who started a middleweight and who is now a light-heavyweight, he's still learning to race. He's versatile and can go a mile-and-a-quarter or a mile-and-a-half.

"I thought he'd win the race extremely well if things went right for him but you have to handle the ground. I'll be absolutely honest, I didn't think he'd win as big as that.

"People will start talking about the match up with Enable but we just hope both the horses have a good winter. I've been around long enough not to count too many chickens.

"Perhaps Frankie will have a very difficult decision to make next year."

Dettori's joy was obvious, especially as the Champion Stakes is a race that was previously missing from his impressive resume.

But, after a 'nice chat' with The Queen, he was in no rush making his choice between Gosden's two stable stars.

"He put a good field to bed in the manner of a champion," he said.

"It's a fantastic feeling. I glanced at the big screen and he was clear and I've not got words to describe how that felt. He's been given time to develop and has got the success he deserved.

"This is Cracksman's day, let's enjoy him. If I had to choose between him and Enable I wouldn't know who to ride, they are two champions and we go into the winter daring to dream. He's learning and there's so much more to come from him." Silvestre de Sousa and O'Brien both arrived at Ascot, for the £4.3m Qipco Champions Day finale to the European flat racing season, knowing they'd defended their Champion Jockey and Champion Trainer titles.

Brazilian De Sousa finished the campaign with over 200 winners while O'Brien's quarter-century of big race wins, which included four of the five British classics, will take some beating.

"I'm delighted and let's enjoy it, we might never get back here again," said O'Brien.

"It does mean a lot. Everyone puts in so much, day in, day out and there are so many variables and near-misses, sometimes all the ducks are in a row and sometimes they're not.

"It's a big team effort. All the way from the 'lads' to the owners and I'm just proud to be a link in the chain. To win any Group One is so hard, we never expect them."

Sportsbeat 2017