The Flat season draws to an end at Doncaster on Saturday, so it makes sense to look back on some of the best performances this season.
We have been spoilt in the sprint division this year, but one of the best performances on ratings came from the hot-headed Battaash when winning the King George at Goodwood in August, blitzing a high-class field and recording the best five-furlong timefigure (130) by a colt/gelding since Oasis Dream in 2003.
He’s a bit like an equine version of Russell Crowe.
He boasts a depth of talent, but his temperament can often get the better of him, just as he showed at York on his next start, throwing his teddy out of the cot before the start. But on a brighter note, at least it wasn’t a phone!
Sir Michael Stoute doesn’t really do hype horses – or interviews for that matter – but there was no denying his enthusiasm as Ulysses won the International Stakes at York in August, where he ran his best race on Timeform ratings, breaking through the 130 barrier for the first time as he pulled two lengths clear of a pair of better-fancied three-year-olds including the Guineas winner Churchill.
Enable had been scintillating throughout 2017, her wins in the Oaks and King George VI also very memorable, but she saved her very best until the last of her five successive Group 1 wins, when she became the first three-year-old filly from Britain/Ireland to win the Arc.
In that race, she stamped her class on a strong field (nine of the first ten home had won Group 1s earlier in the season). She was every bit as impressive as Treve had been when also winning the race as a three-year-old in 2013 – almost as remarkable as the number of times Tyson Fury has announced his retirement before turning 30.
Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of the Flat season in Britain, but for the second year running the American speedster Lady Aurelia lit up the Berkshire track when winning the King’s Stand more or less on the bridle. It was the performance of the week in ratings terms and gave Wesley Ward his eighth Royal Ascot winner.
There won’t have been many horses with more column inches dedicated to them this season than Cracksman – Kings Dolly, the horse Davy Russell went two rounds with at Tramore was beaten by a nose in second – but based on the performance he put up at Ascot (won by seven lengths, running to 136), the chances are he’d have given his outstanding stable companion Enable a race at Chantilly. His season was one of steady progression throughout, but he promises to be better still as a four-year-old.
Turning our attention to this weekend, the November Handicap symbolises the end of the Flat season, and as ever, it’s as open as Liverpool’s defence. The one we like is Saunter, having just his second start for Ian Williams, and with likely soft conditions no problem to him, a big run is expected from what looks a lenient mark.