Champions Day at Ascot seldom disappoints and on the day that trainer Aidan O’Brien equalled the world record for Group/Grade 1 victories in a single year when Hydrangea won the Fillies and Mares race, he somehow found himself eclipsed in the headlines by his arch rival John Gosden and crowd favourite Frankie Dettori, the duo teaming up to take both of the day’s main feature races.
Persuasive was the subject of a gamble in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, her odds tumbling from 14/1 to 8/1 near the off, and she duly collected under a waiting ride from Dettori who pounced late to deliver the filly at the perfect moment. As he was led back in to the winner’s enclosure he performed his trademark flying dismount for a jubilant crowd and they didn’t have to wait long for another when he repeated the showmanship after taking the QIPCO Champion Stakes on Cracksman.
Cracksman missed the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe, won by his stable companion Enable, and that patience was rewarded as he routed his opponents here, the winning margin of seven lengths a clear reflection of his superiority.
Dettori had him racing handy throughout and as they entered the straight he made his move and the race was quickly over as he surged clear, his stamina coming into play on the soft ground.
The victory echoed the win, five years earlier, of Cracksman’s sire Frankel, who won the same race on his final racecourse appearance. Cracksman becomes the first son of Frankel to win a Group 1 race in Europe. John Gosden paid tribute to the colt and emphasised that he’d improved through the season, “Cracksman seems to have got bigger and stronger, like a fighter weighing more now. He started as a middleweight, he’s now a light heavyweight. He’s definitely improved a lot, he handles this ground, he handles good to firm as well. He handled it better than anyone and won it in true style.”
It was a first for Dettori also. The Champion Stakes is one of the big events to have eluded him and he was visibly delighted to have finally broken his duck in the race. “The Champion Stakes is a colossal race. My father came close, I’ve come close a couple of times, but it’s been bugging me for a long time and to do it now with such a great performance, I’m thrilled,” he said, his infectious enthusiasm delighting the crowd of over 30,000 racegoers.