Cracksman can put the seal on a fine three-year-old campaign with victory in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.
The John Gosden-trained Frankel colt arrives at the glittering finale to the British season as a relatively fresh horse, with connections having resisted the temptation of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly, won so brilliantly by stablemate Enable.
Placed in both the English and Irish Derby, Frankie Dettori’s mount looked an improved performer when winning the Great Voltigeur at York in August and was not hard-pushed to continue his progression in the Prix Niel.
That led to a clamour from armchair experts to see him in the Arc, but Gosden and owner Anthony Oppenheimer rightly stood firm – a decision that should be vindicated here, with a bit of cut in the ground certain to suit over 10 furlongs and few riders better at Ascot than Dettori, especially if he decides to do it from the front.
Connections were initially lukewarm on the idea of another run this season, but this looked too good an opportunity to pass up.
Aidan O’Brien has been impossible to keep out of the headlines this year when it has mattered most, so expect to see Order Of St George put the record straight in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
There were plenty of long faces when he was turned over in an absolute epic for the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting in the summer, but whether it would be the same result if the race was run again is open to debate.
The five-year-old has made no mistake in two wins since, and also ran a huge race to be fourth to Enable in the Arc.
In fairness, he was beaten in this race 12 months ago when running a similar race in the Arc, so there will be those wanting to take him on, which will hopefully ensure his price is a backable one.
It is hard to look past Harry Angel in the Qipco British Champions Sprint.
Trainer Clive Cox and jockey Adam Kirby felt their flying machine should have won the Commonwealth Cup in the summer and whether or not that is a correct assertion, he has not put a foot wrong since.
The Godolphin-owned son of Dark Angel looked tremendous when winning the July Cup at Newmarket and even better in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.
Crucially, he proved his versatility in terms of ground at Haydock and so superior does he now look over the rest, it will take something more than a little unexpected to stop him making it three Group One wins in a row.
Bateel has been quietly progressive over the last few months away from the big guns and a plan looks like coming to fruition in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
Formerly trained by David Simcock, the five-year-old has thrived since switching to Francis Graffard in France in order to run more regularly on the soft ground she loves.
But her current form has probably exceeded all expectations and in fact the discussion was had as to whether she would be put in the Arc at the supplementary stage.
This, though, has been the target and it will be a good one that finishes in front of her – particularly so if there is a real downpour.
If there is to be an upset – of sorts – on the card, then it may come in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, where Beat The Bank is fancied to give Ribchester a real fight.
A tilt at this would have been the last thing on Andrew Balding’s mind when he inherited this colt from Ireland in April, but he has gone through the gears at an alarming rate and looked very good indeed when dotting up in the Group Two Joel Stakes at Newmarket.
TURF TALK TIPS
ASCOT: 1.25 Order Of St George (next best), 2.00 Harry Angel (treble), 2.40 Bateel, 3.15 Beat The Bank, 3.50 CRACKSMAN (NAP), 4.30 Zabeel Prince.
CATTERICK: 1.50 Emphatic, 2.25 Crotchet, 2.55 Desert Ace, 3.30 Udontdodou, 4.05 Theos Lolly, 4.40 Flyboy, 5.10 Our Cilla.
MARKET RASEN: 1.40 Ebonys Encore, 2.15 Demon D’Aunou, 2.50 Bowie, 3.25 Hey Bill, 4.00 Bordeaux Bill, 4.35 Shake It Up, 5.05 Normal Norman.
STRATFORD: 2.30 Sky Of Stars, 3.00 Miss Night Owl, 3.35 Bristol De Mai, 4.10 Get Home Now, 4.45 Normandy King, 5.15 Brunel Woods, 5.45 Jebs Gamble.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.40 Raffle King, 6.15 Kodicat, 6.45 Fierce Impact, 7.15 Craving, 7.45 Ballyfarsoon, 8.15 Born To Reason, 8.45 Eium Mac, 9.15 Huddersfilly Town.