Cracksman made a dream start to 2018 with a four lengths victory in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Longchamp on Sunday. Last season's Champion Stakes winner quickened up impressively approaching the final furlong before bounding clear to register an emphatic victory. John Gosden suggested the four year old may contest the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh next month before a tilt at the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot. Having looked a strong stayer over twelve furlongs last term, Cracksman appears to have got quicker with racing producing his best two performances over a mile and a quarter. Proven on quick and slow surfaces, he looks set for another big year and could be one of the stars of the season.
Crystal Ocean was another top-class three year old last year winning the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood before being outstayed in the St Leger at Doncaster. Sir Michael Stoute's colt returned over ten furlongs in the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown on Friday. A narrow winner from Fabricate, it was an encouraging start to his four year old career given the fact the runner-up had a fitness advantage, plus the trip is shy of his best. It will be interesting to see where the son of Sea The Stars heads next. One would imagine the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot will be one of his main summer targets with one run beforehand.
Stablemate Crystal Hope (14/1), who is featured in the Maidens In Waiting section of Ahead On The Flat, hails from the same family and she left her juvenile form behind with a taking success in the ten furlongs novice stakes at the Esher track. A daughter of Nathaniel, she relished the step up to ten furlongs and won going away by three lengths. While she doesn't hold any fancy entries at this stage, it will be a surprise if she isn't tried in an Oaks trial next time. Given her breeding, there is no reason why she won't stay a mile and a half later on.
The Talking Trainers section in AOTF has been churning out the winners. David O'Meara's horses, in particular, have struck form with Black Isle Boy (16/1), Conversant (8/1), Highland Bobby (5/1) and Stonific (13/2) all scoring in the last three days. Hugo Palmer is another in-form trainer with Mootasadir (4/5), Rashdan (7/2) and Stage Name (12/1) winning during the same time period. Roger Charlton's team have been slower to strike form but the Beckhampton trainer introduced a smart looking prospect in Aspetar in the ten furlongs maiden at Windsor on Monday. A colt by Al Kazeem, Roger gave him a favourable mention on page 62 of AOTF. He looks very much one to follow in the coming weeks and months.
The curtain came down on the National Hunt season on Saturday with Willie Mullins steamrolling Gordon Elliott at the Punchestown Festival. Ireland's champion trainer sent out no less than 18 winners over the five days, earning £1,485,789 in prize-money in the process. It was a staggering performance. The biggest frustration of the week was seeing the previously unbeaten Samcro hit the deck at the third last in the Champion Hurdle on Friday. Thankfully, the Festival winner lives to fight another day and it will be interesting to see which route he takes next winter. Personally, I hope Gigginstown and Gordon Elliott elect to send him chasing. I will be working out the final statistics for One Jump Ahead in the next couple of days and will post them on here.
“Thank you for a very successful and profitable email service. My personal highlight was the win of Aloomomo whose romp round Uttoxeter was a joy. Keep up the good work with all your services, the books and updates, they are simply the best by a very long way.”
“Just want to say thanks for running the service again this year, I have ended up with a nice £756 profit from it so I'm obviously very happy with that so thanks a lot!”
“Thanks for your email Mark would just like to say your selections and insight has been awesome. Keep up the good work sir your service is the best.”
“Thank you for an excellent tipping service throughout the three months. It has been a pleasure and profitable to be a member of your service. Your indepth knowledge and analysis of the race has been excellent. I honestly rate your service as one of the best and most profitable.”
“Thanks very much for the fantastic service you have supplied, I have been involved with racing tipsters for over 30 years and never had as good a strike rate as yourself, out of this world.”
“The email service as usual has been brilliant and this season's OJA seems to continue to unearth amazing insight if you have the time to trust and follow it in detail over a period. Thanks as always for your outstanding value for money publications.”
“Superb information again Mark, I managed to get some 11/4, will certainly pay for Xmas. Different class.”
“Awesome result the magicman strikes again. Won with plenty in hand and not a moments worry great write up spot on again and results speak for themselves best service I've tried, keep up the fantastic work sir. Very happy customer!”
Mark Howard Publications Ltd.
69 Fairgarth Drive