Two-time champion trainer John Gosden gives us the latest news on his team for QIPCO British Champions Day
By Andy Stephens at Newmarket
The son of Frankel has shone over a mile and a half this season and has won his past two starts in Group Two company, over that trip, by almost ten lengths after being placed in the Derby and Irish equivalent.
A tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was resisted and Gosden has no regrets about that after scooping the Chantilly showpiece with the outstanding Enable.
Victory for Cracksman in the £1.3 million Champion Stakes would cap an epic year for Gosden. He may be lagging behind Aidan O’Brien in terms of Group One winners but not in prize money, having accumulated more than £10 million around the globe since March.
The two-time champion watched his principal Champions Day contenders work on Warren Hill on Friday morning and when asked where he thought Cracksman would have finished in the Arc, had he run, Gosden paused for a moment, smiled and then said: “He’d have finished in the three. I’ll leave it at that.”
He regards the zestful colt as a long-term project and had considered pulling up stumps with him after his runaway win in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York in August.
However, his subsequent demeanour demanded a trip to France, where he won the Prix Niel, and, from there, onto Ascot for Britain’s richest raceday.
“Cracksman’s weighing 16 or 17 kilos more than when he ran his first race at Epsom in April - he’s a bigger, stronger horse who has improved through the year,” Gosden said.
“He has done nothing but improve through the year and it seemed rather silly to bypass a race [the Champion Stakes] of that importance.
“He’s won over a mile and a quarter and is bred to be more of a miler. He wouldn’t want a falsely-run race but I think he’s got the pace for it.
“He’s doing well all the time and is in great form. He had a nice holiday after the Irish Derby into York and another nice gap then to Chantilly for the Prix Niel, and he's had another nice gap going into Ascot.
"I'm very happy with him. Frankie [Dettori] was pleased with his work on Wednesday and I'm looking forward to running him in the Champion Stakes.”
By way of caution, he added: "I just hope he doesn't get a wide draw. It can compromise you, with Swinley Bottom coming quickly."
Jack Hobbs has finished third in the past two renewals of the Champion Stakes but he has disappointed on his past two starts and the general 20-1 chance is not certain to try to make it third time lucky.
"We will see through the week if we run him or not,” Gosden said. "That race [the Prince of Wales's] didn't do him any good and it was unwise to run him in those temperatures on that ground, whereas the Sheema Classic was a very smart move.
"We will see how he works in the week, but there's no final decision. I would have thought if he doesn't run, he will not run again and I think a stud career will beckon."
Stradivarius (QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup), Journey (QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes) and Coronet (also Fillies & Mares Stakes) also stretched their legs before their respective missions on Champions Day.Stradivarius is set to contest the Long Distance Cup (PA)
Of Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius, who was third in the St Leger on his latest start, he said: "He is in very good order. If the ground is good or on the easy side of it he will run. if it has gone soft he won't run - it is as simple as that."
In addition, Persuasive could take her chance against Ribchester and company in the £1.1 million Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO).
Gosden hinted the Cheveley Park-owned filly had run her final race when runner-up to Roly Poly in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket last Saturday but she has come out of that race so well that she may well get the chance for a final hurrah. “We are keeping an eye on it,” he said.
In the Balmoral Handicap, Europe’s richest mile handicap, Gosden will be represented by Gm Hopkins but top weight Remarkable, prominent in the ante-post betting, will miss the £250,000 contest after suffering a setback.