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.