Winx

 

According to octogenarian co-owner, Richard Treweeke, the name Winx is derived from that of her dam, Vegas Showgirl, based on the idea that if you appreciate the statuesque feminine beauty of a Sin City showgirl you wink and, as Treweeke put it, “if she likes you she winks back”. Whatever its derivation, the name is certainly unusual, befitting a racemare of extraordinary ability.

 

Trained by Chris Waller in Sydney, Australia, at the time of writing, Winx has won 29 consecutive races – including a world-record 22 at Group 1 level – culminating in an unprecedented fourth consecutive win in the most prestigious weight-for-age race in the country, the Cox Plate, in October, 2018. Since her winning streak began, in the Sunshine Coast Guineas on May 16, 2015, Winx has started favourite on all 28 subsequent starts and has been odds-on, often as short as 1/10 or 1/11, for the last 24 wins in the sequence. Unsurprisingly, Winx was named Champion Racehorse of the Year three years running, in 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 and, in 2017, became just the third horse – after Sunline and Black Caviar – to be inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame while still in training.

 

Indeed, in April, 2018, Winx won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick to equal the record of 25 consecutive wins set by Black Caviar, but has since added four more victories at the highest level to her winning tally. Her additional successes came in the Winx Stakes over 7 furlongs and the Colgate Optic White Stakes over a mile, both at Randwick, the Tap Turnbull Stakes over a mile and a quarter at Flemington and the aforementioned Cox Plate, over the same distance at Moonee Valley.

 

According to Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, Winx is currently the highest rated horse in the world, ahead of Pegasus World winner Gun Runner and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Poet’s Word. According to Timeform Global Rankings, the superstar mare was rated equal fourth, alongside Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Enable, in 2017 and, in the latest revision, published in July, 2018, was rated equal third, alongside Enable and Gun Runner.

Cracksman

 Cracksman is a retired thoroughbred racehorse, owned by Anthony Oppenheimer, bred at his Hascombe and Valiant Stud in Newmarket and trained, throughout his racing career, by John Gosden at Clarehaven Stables, also in Newmarket. Sired by Frankel – the highest-rated horse in the history of Timeform and World Thoroughbred Rankings – out of a Pivotal mare, Cracksman won eight of his 11 starts, including four at the highest level, and £2.79 million in win and place prize money.

 

In fact, he emulated his sire by winning the Champion Stakes on British Champions’ Day at Ascot, not once, but twice. In 2017, as a three-year-old, he stayed on strongly to win the finale of the Middle Distance category of the British Champions Series by an impressive 7 lengths from Poet’s Word, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and, in 2018, produced an almost identical performance to rout Crystal Ocean, also trained by Stoute, by 6 lengths, with jockey Frankie Dettori waving his whip in celebration in the last half a furlong or so. His latter victory in the £1.3 million showpiece also sealed a third trainers’ championship for John Gosden, despite more than two months of the season remaining.

 

Dettori rode Cracksman nine times in total and was beaten on him just twice, once in the Derby, for which he started favourite and finished third, beaten three-quarters of a length and a neck, and once in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, in which he was never travelling and was eased down to finish second, beaten 2¼ lengths, behind his old rival Poet’s Word.

 

The latter contest was run on good to firm going, which Cracksman did not appreciate, and in warm, humid conditions, which may have been why he sweated up badly in the preliminaries. There was also a suggestion from John Gosden that his fractious, fidgety behaviour was due to the proximity of the fillies returning from the preceding Duke of Cambridge Stakes. In any event, on that occasion Dettori described Cracksman as uncharacteristically “lethargic”, “one paced” and “lazy”.

 

Enable

In November, 2018, Enable won the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky and, in so doing, made history by becoming the first winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to win a Breeders’ Cup race in the same season. Her Timeform Annual Rating, of 134, is 6lb short of that required for her to be considered one of the truly exceptional horses of the Timeform epoch, which began in 1948, but she succeeded where eight previous winners of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, including Dancing Brave in 1986, had failed.

 

Sent off at 8/13 favourite for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Enable was pressed throughout the final quarter of a mile by Magical, trained by Aidan O’Brien – who’d won the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot two weeks earlier – but kept on strongly to win by three-quarters of a length. Her magnificent performance came less than a month after winning Europe’s premier middle-distance prize for the second year running – when reportedly only 85% fit – and was made all the more remarkable by the fact that her four-year-old campaign didn’t start until early September after a series of setbacks.

 

Bred and owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, trained by John Gosden and ridden, for most of her career, by Frankie Dettori, at the time of writing, Enable has won all bar one of her 11 starts and is unbeaten in seven starts over a mile and a half at the highest level. Her career earnings currently stand at in excess of £8 million and, although her future has yet to be decided, she may well stay in training as a five-year-old, with an unprecedented third win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as her main aim.

 

John Gosden has already said, more than once, that the final decision on her retirement, or otherwise, lies with Prince Khalid but, when interviewed after the Breeders’ Cup Turf, both trainer and jockey appeared enthusiastic about running Enable as a five-year-old. Gosden may even have dropped a less-than-subtle hint when he remarked, “Maybe she’s getting better”, in his post-race interview.

American Pharaoh

 American Pharaoh has achieved remarkable success in his short career. This American thoroughbred, owned by Ahmed Zayat and trained by Bob Baffert has won everything there is to win since being foaled in 2012. After 2014 wins in races such as the grade one Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes, the following year was the year that would transform American Pharaoh into a legend of the sport.

Starting with a Rebel Stakes win in March of 2015, and in the Arkansas Derby the following month, it was May when American Pharaoh took it to the next level with wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes – with a win in the Belmont Stakes coming soon after. These latter three races make up the Triple Crown of thoughbred racing, and in the history of the event, only 12 other horses have won all three races since 1919. In fact it had been almost three decades since a horse (Affirmed) had achieved this feat of excellence.

American Pharaoh wasn’t done yet though and in the same year added the Breeder’s Cup Challenge to his CV. He now had the four most respected and prominent American races under his belt, an achievement known in its own right as the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing. How many others have achieved this feat you may ask? None in the answer. The right trainer and of course jockey (Victor Espinoza) can of course make a difference, but innate ability must be the overriding factor. It’s no surprise then, with little else to achieve, American Pharaoh was put out to stud at the end of 2015. His career earnings were $8.5 million, a figure expected to be eclipsed by his stud fees.

A life sized sculpture of American Pharaoh and his rider made by renowned sculptor James Peniston is installed at Oakland racetrack, the site of two of the horses early wins.