Cracksman rounded off his three year old campaign with a brilliant performance in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. A seven lengths victor, John Gosden's colt had won the Great Voltigeur and Prix Niel in emphatic fashion and his connections elected to swerve the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe and wait for this. The drop back to ten furlongs proved no obstacle as Frankie Dettori's mount sat in behind the leaders until pouncing on the hometurn. The son of Frankel powered clear and is a terrific four year old prospect for next season. As stated in the Royal Ascot and York Updates, I was convinced he was the best horse in the Epsom Derby but his lack of experience cost him victory in June. It is somewhat ironic that he was withdrawn from the Dante Stakes on account of testing conditions and yet he ploughed through the mud on Saturday to win one of the most prestigious events in the Flat racing Calendar.
Autumn Update readers will be aware that I tipped Persuasive for the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket earlier this month. While she ran well in second, she proved no match for old rival Roly Poly. However, encountering her favoured soft ground, John Gosden's filly claimed some notable scalps against the boys in the QEII Stakes. Held up, she weaved her way through and reeled in Ribchester and Churchill to win going away by a length. Needless to say, I didn't back her at the weekend.
Talking of the Autumn Update, I was keen on the chances of Duretto in the Long Distance Cup and the gelding looked set to play a significant role turning for home. Andrew Balding's charge had impressed in a Listed event at Chester last time and was tackling two miles for the first time at Ascot. Indeed, it was his lack of stamina which proved his undoing. Graham Lee's mount weakened inside the final two furlongs before finishing fifth, six and a half lengths behind Order of St George. Suited by ease underfoot, Duretto will be competitive in races such as the John Porter and Ormonde Stakes at Newbury and Chester respectively next spring.
Switching codes, J.P.McManus spent a small fortune last spring/summer on new recruits and he unleashed two very promising youngsters on Saturday. Demon D'Aunou (page 110 of One Jump Ahead) had run twice in France, including when a length and a quarter runner-up in an APQS bumper at Deauville last Autumn. Subsequently bought for £130,000 in November, the Martaline gelding made his British debut for Jonjo O'Neill exactly a year after his Deauville outing in the second division of the two mile maiden hurdle at Market Rasen on Saturday and he didn't disappoint. A four and a half lengths winner, the margin flattered the runner-up with Aidan Coleman sitting motionless for much of the race. He looks a cracking prospect.
The famous green and gold silks were also in evidence for the first time aboard the unbeaten Mr One More in the second division of the maiden hurdle at Stratford. Harry Fry's gelding had won a bumper at Bangor a year ago, in a race which had worked out particularly well (see page 51) and he was well backed on his jumping bow at the Midlands track. Noel Fehily's mount looked to have plenty to do after the second last but quickened up well going to the final flight and collared the highly regarded Irish import Summerville Boy on the run-in. The runner-up was well fancied and I will be surprised if this wasn't an above average maiden hurdle.
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