Cracksman surged to the lead early in the stretch run in the QIPCO British Champion Stakes (G1) Oct. 21 at Ascot and kicked away smartly to a seven-length victory, earning his first top-level win in the race that provided the exclamation mark to the career of his sire, Frankel.
Poet's Word finished second in the 1 1/4-mile capper of QIPCO British Champions Day, run over soft turf with a stiff wind blowing down the straight. Highland Reel, running over conditions that have confounded him in the past, finished third after a strategic ride by Ryan Moore.
Barney Roy finished ninth of 10 in the Champion Stakes, completing a day of disappointments for Godolphin Racing.
With Frankie Dettori at the controls, Cracksman raced well off the early pace, while Moore took Highland Reel well to the stands-side rail, as the field emerged from Swinley Bottom to start the climb up the hill toward the straight.
As they came together and turned for home, Dettori had only to turn Cracksman loose and he quickly was on his way. Poet's Word found a late burst of speed to land second, a neck in front of Highland Reel.
The Champion Stakes was the first group 1 win for the John Gosden trainee campaigned in Anthony Oppenheimer's black and white silks.
Cracksman, out of the Pivotal (GB) mare Rhadegunda, finished third in the Investec Derby (G1) at Epsom, then second in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1) at the Curragh. He marched on to victories in the Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes (G2) at York and the Qatar Prix Neil (G2) at Chantilly, but then bypassed the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1).
In the flush of a new victory, Dettori held Cracksman up to his Arc winner Enable, also trained by Gosden.
"If I had to choose between him and Enable, I wouldn't know who to ride," he said. "They are two champions and we go into the winter to dream."
Gosden, too, was on about a comparison between Cracksman and the super filly.
"He's a very talented horse," Gosden said of Cracksman. "Frankie rode him positively and beautifully in the straight. We said to come wide and he has done it well. You can see why I didn't want him to run (in the Arc). I don't know. Him and Enable would be fun. There's not much between them, is there?
"I really hope Frankie does (eventually have to pick between Enable and Cracksman). We hope the horses have a good winter and go through to next year, but I've been around long enough not to count too many chickens.
"It's great for Frankel to have a group 1 winner in Europe. He's had a proper group 1 here in a race he won himself."
It was a Frankel kind of day at Ascot.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien, who earlier on the card equaled trainer Bobby Frankel's record of 25 top-level victories in a single season when Hydrangea won the QIPCO British Champions Filly & Mare Stakes (G1), said he was thrilled with Highland Reel's run.
"I'm very happy and he ran a great race," O'Brien said. "He'd like the ground quicker and he'll probably go to America next if everything is well."
The 5-year-old son of Galileo (IRE) won the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) last year over Flintshire .