Firsts all round as crackling Cracksman puts in Champion performance at Ascot

Cracksman in full flight at Ascot There are few Group One races missing from the CVs of John Gosden and Frankie Dettori and there is now one less after Cracksman turned in a display of sheer brilliance in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.
It took a brave call from the Newmarket handler not to let the three-year-old take on stablemate Enable in the Arc, but it proved the right one after he demolished a high-class field to provide his sire Frankel - who won the race in 2012 - with a first top-level success in Europe.
Plenty doubted whether the Anthony Oppenheimer-owned colt would have the necessary speed on his switch back to a mile and a quarter, having been campaigned over two furlongs further in his last four starts, and those that did were suitably silenced.
Having raced prominently throughout, and with his stamina assured, the 13-8 favourite readily drew clear once sent to the front by Dettori entering the home straight to eventually cross the line seven lengths clear of Poet's Word, with Highland Reel a neck back in third.
Cracksman, who completed a Group One double for Dettori and Gosden after they earlier captured the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Persuasive, was cut to 4-1 for next year's Arc by Paddy Power.
Gosden said: "He is a lovely horse and has improved through the year. I thought he ran a blinder at Epsom in the Derby, he was unlucky in Ireland, but boy, with Capri the form was good.
"He seems to have got bigger and stronger. If he started a middleweight, he is now a light heavyweight.
"He handled the ground better than anyone and he has won it in true style. Coming down Tattenham Corner (in the Derby) he got in a dreadful muddle, but he is learning. It is great for Frankel to have a son win the race he won.
"I think in the Arc it was a difficult decision, but I think Enable was more in the zone and streetwise than him. I was happy with the decision we made and I think it was the right decision."
Dettori echoed the thoughts of Gosden in describing Cracksman as being much closer to the finished article now.
He said: "What I rode today is not what I rode at Epsom. He has developed and is stronger. He is a good horse now.
"I was surprised with the way he travelled as he can be a little bit laid-back in his races.
"He jumped and travelled and the pace was honest. I played my ace card where it was 'catch me if you can' because I knew he would get to the end no problem.
"It was a storming performance. I am thrilled for everyone. It was Frankel's first Group One in Europe and my first Champion Stakes. There were a lot of firsts and it was a great performance."
He added: "Today 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 to dream."
Gosden said: "I really hope Frankie does (have a difficult decision to make between Enable and Cracksman), we hope the horses have a good winter and go through to next year, but I've been around long enough not to count too many chickens."
While the victory did not come as a surprise to his owner, the manner in which it was achieved most certainly did.
Oppenheimer said: "It was amazing, especially as it was over a mile and a quarter.
"It was miles beyond what I expected. I thought it would be a tough race. It was amazing, he just took off. I am in quite a shock. He is a completely different horse now."