Cracksman

Cracksman Horse

Four-time Group 1 winner Cracksman proved to be arguably the greatest horse of his generation, having placed in both the Epsom and Irish Derby before going on to win the Champion Stakes at Ascot twice as well as the Prix Ganay at Longchamp and the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

Trained by John Gosden, Cracksman - who was Champion three-year-old in 2017 and Champion older horse in 2018 - was bred by Hascombe and Valiant Studs and was sired by the legendary unbeaten superstar Frankel out of Listed winner Rhadegunda (Pivotal).

Having been retired at the end of his four-year-old career, Cracksman’s final career earnings came to £2,793,063 for owner Anthony Oppenheimer. He had never finished out of the first three in his 11 career starts - winning eight of them.

Cracksman 2016 - 2yo

Cracksman wasn’t overly fancied on his racecourse debut in October 2016, going off a 9/2 shot in a one-mile Newmarket maiden event. John Gosden had two horses in the race, the other being a certain Stradivarius who would go on to win two Ascot Gold Cups in 2018 and 2019 and the Stayers Million in 2018. On this occasion, it was Cracksman who ran on well under Rab Havlin to make a winning start in what would be his sole two-year-old appearance.

Cracksman 2017 - 3yo

Much was expected from Cracksman after that highly encouraging debut and he was already being touted as a live Epsom Derby chance for the Gosden team. He further enhanced those claims in April 2017 when making a winning seasonal reappearance in the Investec Derby Trial at Epsom. Despite taking a keen hold throughout and being denied a clear run twice, the 4/6 favourite ran on for Frankie Dettori and managed to get up to deny Permian for Mark Johnston in the dying strides.

After already winning on the famous Downs, Cracksman would now go off the 7/2 favourite for the big one back at the same track - the Epsom Derby on June 3, 2017. The son of Frankel ran a highly creditable race and took up the running a furlong but was outstayed in the closing stages by the Aidan O’Brien pair Wings Of Eagles (40/1) and Cliffs Of Moher (5/1). He had been beaten only a length.

Cracksman would stay at 12 furlongs for his next outing and would head to the Curragh in an attempt to bid for Classic compensation in the Irish Derby. Alas it proved a similar story as again the O’Brien Ballydoyle battalion lay in wait and found a challenger to outstay Cracksman in the dying stages. This time it was the grey Capri (6/1) who would hold on to keep him at bay by a neck with Epsom hero Wings Of Eagles back in third.

If the two Derby bids had been disappointing for Cracksman fans, his next outing at York’s Ebor meeting in August 2017 would absolutely restore faith that the horse could be a superstar. He was sent off 4/6 favourite for the Great Voltigeur Stakes and routed the opposition - powering home six lengths in front of Venice Beach under a delighted Dettori.

The Great Voltigeur is historically known as a St Leger trial but there would be no step up to 1m 6f for Cracksman - instead Gosden sent him to Chantilly in France to contest the Group Two Prix Niel - traditionally a trial for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Again Cracksman was odds on (2/5) and again he won easily - scoring by a convincing three-and-a-half lengths from Andre Fabre’s Avilius.

Despite that impressive victory team Gosden would swerve the Arc as Cracksman’s superstar stablemate Enable headed there to take the first of her two victories in Europe’s premier race.

Instead Cracksman would go to Ascot in late October 2017 for the Qipco Champion Stakes over 10 furlongs - highlight of a glittering Champions Day card. And the son of Frankel, sent off the 13/8 favourite, reminded many of his father by showing a blistering turn of foot under Dettori to rout a high-class field by seven lengths. The decision to keep him in training as a four-year-old suggested there were even greater riches in store in 2018.

Cracksman 2018– 4yo

Cracksman’s 2018 campaign was a strange one - he took three Group One victories from four starts and again ended his season in stunning style. But despite he didn’t quite scale the heights which some had predicted.

The season began in the Prix Ganay at the end of April when he destroyed the opposition to register an easy four-length victory.

Next came a return to Epsom in early June for the Coronation Cup - the Epsom Derby for older horses. Not surprisingly Cracksman’s odds (2/7) were prohibitive and he was expected to make short work of the opposition, despite the Group One level.

But with Dettori having to be at his strongest, Gosden’s charge really struggled to get past the 33/1 shot Salouen in the closing stages to score by a head.

There was more concern for Frankel fans later in June 2018 when he lined up for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over 10 furlongs at Royal Ascot. Despite again being sent off the odds-on favourite he was never travelling perfectly for Dettori and was outpointed by Sit Michael Stoute’s Poet’s Word by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

Cracksman had destroyed Poet’s Word in the previous season’s Champion Stakes and Gosden had his own thoughts about the reasons for defeat:

"He is a clever horse and to that extent, as I said earlier before the race, he was welcoming all the fillies that were walking back from the Duke Of Cambridge on the way back to the stables. I think we need to concentrate his mind, as we know the ability is there.”

Gosden avoided fast ground as he bided his time for Cracksman’s next target - and when it came it would be his final career start, again back at Ascot for a repeat bid for Champion Stakes glory.

In an effort to ensure full concentration Gosden had blinkers applied to his star colt and he was sent to post the 5/6 favourite under regular partner Dettori. The headgear absolutely brought the perfect results as the pair repeated almost exactly that 2018 success, routing a high-class field. Another Stoute inmate - the highly talented Crystal Ocean - was six lengths back in second.

Cracksman at Stud

That second blistering Champion Stakes success at Ascot was the final race of Cracksman’s career, and he was retired to stud after winning his fourth Group 1 race. He is currently standing at Darley’s Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket and his 2019 stud fee is £25,000. Cracksman’s first foals should be heading onto the racecourse in 2022.

Training, Owning and Riding Cracksman

Cracksman was trained for the entirety of his racecourse career by John Gosden at Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket, and owned by renowned owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer.

As retained rider for John Gosden, Frankie Dettori rode Cracksman for all bar two of his runs throughout his career. Rab Havlin was on board when he made a winning debut at Newmarket, while the recently-retired Pat Smullen took the ride when Cracksman finished a neck second to Capri in the Irish Derby at The Curragh.

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