Cracksman is set to bow out in style
Cracksman can end his brilliant racing career on a high by winning the Qipco Champion Stakes for the second year running at Ascot today.
The rain that has fallen this week has been manna from heaven for the soft-ground loving colt, who frustratingly had to sit out a crucial part of the season due to the long, hot summer.
Rewind to 12 months ago, with the essential cut in the ground, and Cracksman served up probably his best-ever display when he routed the opposition as he came home seven lengths clear of Poet's Word.
It looked like the John Gosden-trained colt was set to dominate in 2018, but that was not the case despite a blistering comeback success in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp in April.
Cracksman made heavy weather of overhauling Salouen in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and was then surprisingly beaten by Poet's Word in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.
That defeat was put down to him being distracted by the fillies returning from the previous race - although it was still a fine run, because the first two were eight lengths clear of Hawkbill in third, and the winner went on to land the King George back at Ascot.
It has been a long four-month wait since the Royal meeting, but Cracksman is reported to be in superb shape for his swansong and will wear blinkers for the first time to keep his mind on the job. He looks a good bet to headlight a cracking card.
Elsewhere, it is the fillies that could excel with Lah Ti Dar, also from the Gosden stable, expected to hit the right note as she takes on her own sex after losing out to Kew Gardens in the St Leger.
It was a brave decision to take on the colts, and over an extended mile and three-quarters, and she was beaten more by experience than anything else. She can make amends in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
Laurens can cap a magnificent season by taking her Group One haul to five in 2018, and six in all, by winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
ASCOT: 1.25 FLAG OF HONOUR (NAP), 2.00 Brando, 2.40 Lah Ti Dar, 3.15 Laurens, 3.50 Cracksman, 4.30 Kynren.
CATTERICK: 1.50 Sylvia's Mother, 2.25 Arletta Star, 2.55 Vallarta, 3.30 Storm Over, 4.05 Al Destoor, 4.40 Zeyzoun, 5.10 Queen Adelaide.
FFOS LAS: 1.35 Celtic Style, 2.10 Ruby Fool, 2.45 Aimee De Sivola, 3.20 King Alfonso, 3.55 Coole Cody, 4.25 Silver Streak, 4.55 West Wizard, 5.30 Elton Des Mottes.
LEOPARDSTOWN: 1.35 Lightning Amber, 2.05 Mr Secretary, 2.35 Arcturus, 3.05 Old Glory, 3.40 Flavius, 4.15 Bucky Larson, 4.50 Cockalorum, 5.25 Nibiru.
MARKET RASEN: 1.40 Rococo Style, 2.15 William Hunter, 2.50 Card Game, 3.25 Highway One O One, 4.00 Play The Ace, 4.35 Ballydun Oscar, 5.05 Surin.
STRATFORD: 2.30 Keel Over, 3.00 Never A Word, 3.35 Atlantic Grey, 4.10 Return Flight, 4.45 Hijran, 5.15 Stormbay Bomber, 5.45 Clock On Tom.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.40 Motajaasid, 6.15 Haylah, 6.45 Mutarabby, 7.15 Reeth, 7.45 Looking For Carl, 8.15 Mostawfee, 8.45 Texas Radio, 9.15 Eva Docc.
DOUBLE SELECTION: Flag Of Honour and Cracksman.