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”.