Breaking the dominance of Aidan O’Brien is a hard thing to achieve – but John Gosden proved up to the task as a scintillating treble on Qipco British Champions Day helped secure his third Flat trainers’ championship.
With the coveted crown having headed to Ballydoyle for the past two seasons, the Newmarket handler foiled the hat-trick after taking Britain’s most valuable race day by storm at Ascot to wrap up the title with more than two months remaining.
Gosden said: “I gave the cup to Aidan and he had to give it to me this year. It means a lot. I said to Aidan on January 1 ‘we start with a blank sheet again, a bit like a football manager’.”
Though wins for Roaring Lion in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup all but secured a first title for Gosden since 2015, the best was arguably saved until last, with Cracksman recording a brilliant second success in the Qipco Champion Stakes.
Arriving on the back of an odds-on defeat in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting, the son of Frankel returned to his imperious best to take the Group One prize by six lengths, completing a double for Frankie Dettori, who was also victorious aboard Stradivarius.
Reflecting on the day, Gosden said: “Frankie, how he got through the Houdini hole on Stradivarius, I don’t know.
“I thought Roaring Lion was beyond brave, as he was never enjoying the ground, but he had the guts to win it, and I thought Oisin (Murphy) was cool and didn’t panic.
“Cracksman had been showing it home and the vibes were pretty strong from the work reports in Newmarket. I knew that just focus his mind and he will fly, and he literally flew. It’s not a bad day to have a treble.”
While most of those housed at Clarehaven Stables have played their part in some way in helping Gosden take title number three, there are several performances that particularly satisfied the trainer.
Gosden added: “I think getting Enable back was good, and getting Cracksman back is top class. That was very fulfilling, at the top level.
“To see Stradivarius going round after round is very fulfilling. It’s all down to the horse, as they have got to be strong in the mind and body and we are lucky to have them.”
It may be Gosden’s name that appears in the headlines, but winning the championship again has been far from an individual effort in his eyes – and one that has happened through the hard work of those behind the scenes.
“I enjoy training horses, being around horses,” Gosden said. “It’s a passion, it really is. I’d feel a bit weird if I woke up in the morning with nothing to do. I’d certainly drive my wife mad if that was the case.
“To me, it [the Championship] is very much a stable thing. It’s not about a trainer, it’s about the whole of the team in the yard from the top assistant down to the guy who is mucking out. We are stockmen and women.
"It’s seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, the horses are there and you’ve got to attend to them. Early mornings, long days, travelling back from the races – there’s a lot of work people put in.”
He added: "You are lucky that you have great owners that send you some lovely horses. I’ve got a wonderful staff who have worked with me for many years.
“It’s a good team, as it’s all on first-name terms and everyone talks to each other and everyone’s ideas are discussed. It has got to be down to those three ingredients.
“There is no individual satisfaction on this horse or that. It is about trying to do the best and if it is to win a little race with a filly and make her a winner, that is very fulfilling.
“I’m just lucky to have some great staff and fabulous owners and the horses to go with it. Without them, I would have nothing.”