Cracksman was a phenomenal winner of the Champion Stakes at Ascot, following in the footsteps of his father Frankel, and battering a star-studded field to win by 6 lengths under Frankie Dettori.
The colt will staying in training next year as a 4yo and, after missing this year’s Arc at Chantilly, is 5/1 from 12s with BetVictor to win Europe’s most prestigious mile and a half contest next October. The only problem with that is stablemate Enable, the superb winner of this year’s renewal, with the superstar filly likely to give Frankie a selection headache and is the 3/1 favourite to win back-to-back renewals with BetVictor.
The culmination of Champions Day, coupled with the curtain being brought down at both Windsor and Pontefract, sees racing speed up towards the NH campaign and Brigand (2.50) can help ensure trainer William Haggas breaks his duck at the West Yorkshire track in the 6f Maiden. The gelded son of Dick Turpin is bred to be useful and can defy a wide draw in stall ten to make a winning debut under Danny Tudhope.
The same combination can land the feature Listed Silver Tankard Stakes with Frankel colt Learn by Heart (3.50) for Her Majesty The Queen. The selection got his head in front at the second time of asking, winning a competitive 7f maiden at Doncaster on soft ground. Connections immediately stepped him up in grade, finishing fourth and then second in listed races at Newbury and Haydock, and he can continue his upward curve and gain some valuable black-type.
Minotaur is the stand-out animal for the Conditions Stakes over a stamina-sapping two and a quarter miles but he must concede 9lb to Mark Johnston’s Dominating (4.50) who is a confident selection to score under PJ McDonald. The selection disappointed dropping back in trip earlier in the month at York but prior to that was an impressive scorer of a 2m Handicap at Ascot and can bounce back in receipt of weight all round.
Windsor also hosts it’s finale to the season where Ballesteros (2.40) must go close in the 6f Handicap. He lost little in defeat last time out when third from a poor draw at Musselburgh and should remain competitive from an unrevised mark.
Sayem (3.10) is unbeaten in two starts at the track and looks well-placed to claim a third course and distance success under regular partner Liam Keniry. Ed Walker’s filly ran well returning from a short break last time out at Newmarket over seven furlongs and is likely to improve back up in trip over a mile.
They go at Plumpton where I hope to see Ballinure (4.00) claim a third success over fences in the Novices’ Handicap Chase under Jeremiah McGrath. The selection disappointed last time out at Market Rasen when sent back over hurdles but had previously won two of his last three starts over fences and should appreciate this afternoon’s severe test of jumping.
Trainer Emma Lavelle’s horses remain in good form and I hope to see Dark Mahler (5.00) make a winning chase debut under Leighton Aspell. The selection was bought by new connections after finishing third in his maiden point-to-point in Ireland and showed glimpses of ability in both starts over hurdles last term. He should improve for the switch to the larger obstacles and is a confident selection to defy an opening mark of 105.