Frankel-esque! Champion Stakes winner Cracksman impresses in pre-season workout
Cracksman provided a fitting curtain-raiser to the three-day Craven meeting when impressing in a gallop prior to racing to evoke memories of his sire Frankel.
Officially the best horse in Europe in 2017, Cracksman was being fine-tuned on the Rowley Mile just as his father – who finished his career unbeaten in 14 starts – had been back in 2012, when his presence added hundreds to the gate.
Although there was not quite that level of interest, Cracksman rewarded those who turned out with an very impressive show over a mile under Frankie Dettori as he limbered up for a crack at the Prix Ganay at Longchamp on Sunday week.
After tracking stablemate Master Singer in the early stages, the John Gosden-trained colt was allowed to stride on approaching the Bushes and stretched clear out of the Dip in impressive style to finish well on top.
Paddy Power were impressed with the gallop and cut Cracksman to 8-11 (from 4-5) for the Ganay.
On hand to watch the exercise was owner Anthony Oppenheimer, who said the four-year-old will now head to the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Longchamp on Sunday week.
"Cracksman is like a different horse this year and worked beautifully," he said. "I've seen him only once before this spring and that was in the mist so this was a great sight.
"The plan is to go to the Ganay now. All options are open after that but I'd like him to go for the King George."
Gosden was just as enamoured and agreed that Cracksman has grown up.
"He's like a 24 year-old this year rather than the 14-year-old of last," he said. "I was delighted with that. It will help him mentally as well as physically.
"He was very relaxed both before and during the work, and Frankie was very happy with him. He's had a healthy blow and I couldn't be more pleased."
Regarding future plans, he added: "Unless there is a strike in France we'll head to the Ganay. If not we could come back here for the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes on May 6."
Frankel fever takes over as Elarqam limbers up for Classic challenge
Ten minutes later the Mark Johnston-trained Elarqam, another son of Frankel, warmed up for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas when shining in his seven-furlong exercise under Jim Crowley with stablemates Kit Marlowe and Time To Study.
Last year's Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes winner was given his head in the Dip to finish on top and remains general 7-1 fourth favourite for the colts' Classic on May 5.
Crowley said: "Elarqam seems to have done very well over the winter and that was just what we wanted.
"He quickened up nicely. I'm looking forward to coming back here for the 2,000 Guineas with him next month."
The initially withheld identities of the two horses working with Elarqam caused consternation in some quarters.
Charlie Johnston, son and assistant to trainer Mark, said: "It was purely because, for those people that own those horses, they don't want to be in the situation where they're watching the TV and they've got two horses there that are just cannon fodder for Elarqam.
"We weren't trying to be clever and hide how good Elarqam is. If anyone thinks Elarqam was there today to find out how good he is then that's just ridiculous. We're not there to work out how many lengths he beat a horse by and what he's galloping to.
"He was purely there to get an away-day into him when he has so little experience, and that's exactly what it achieved and that's all there was to it."
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