TDN’s Horses of the Year: Cracksman


Cracksman | Racing Post

By Tom Frary

Every day this week, a member of the TDN’s Europe/International team nominates a horse of the season. Tom Frary selects Frankel’s first European Group 1 winner Cracksman

For anyone who grew up in or around Newmarket in the seventies and eighties, Henry Cecil was a shaman of the horseracing world and his epoch was eventually concluded with a gift from somewhere out of the ether.

Nobody knows where a horse like Frankel (GB) comes from, just like nobody could ever guess what elements conspired to constitute a Sceptre (GB), a Secretariat, a Phar Lap (NZ). I’m just forever grateful to whatever directs these things that he ended up with the great man at Warren Place.

Henry proudly represented the Suffolk town which his character mirrored with its down-to-earth majesty and his parting shot was the delivery to “headquarters” of something extraordinary. What Frankel came to be seen as by the outside world was a prolific winning machine without a flaw, but he was a thoroughbred who needed guidance to propel his excessive energy in the right direction and he was lucky to be sent in front of a guru.

Frankel’s story is as unbelievable now as it seemed at the time, but I think it will only get better. All that nurturing will make for a riot of colour yet. I just can’t have it that he will not be a wonderful sire and sire of sires and so it was with some impatience that I waited for the breakthrough moment from his first crop. The major juvenile staging posts and the spring and summer Classics came and went and despite some threats of eruption from Eminent (GB) and Cracksman (GB) the volcano lay dormant until as late as mid-October. That Champions Day was picked for the fateful event was particularly significant, with it being the final public appearance in racing of Frankel’s much-missed trainer.

All that aside, I like Cracksman anyway. He’s a big, powerful colt whose levitation was so easy to predict and to follow. If it was as simple as getting a good colt with good breeding and training him perfectly, genuine champions would pour forth every season. Most take a lurch sideways or backwards somewhere along the line, but Anthony Oppenheimer’s homebred just kept giving more and more of what his dad had drawn onto his genetic map. He got so good in the autumn, he made John Gosden change his mind which was no mean feat given that Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) had already achieved more than enough glory for the yard by then. We saw why at Ascot and for my money, he was better than his stablemate at Chantilly a few days before. It seems to me that if they are handled well the Frankels will just improve with time and experience, as he did. Maybe I’m wrong, but this one could turn cosmic in 2018.

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