The 2017 flat season has been a very special one, with superstar horses such as Enable and a record breaking trainer in Aidan O’Brien. We have also been treated to some incredible races that have provided us with plenty of high octane entertainment. Due to this, it was very difficult to narrow down this list to just five, but without further ado here are my five favorite races from this season.
Number 5 – Racing Post Trophy (Saxon Warrior)
Whilst only run yesterday I felt obliged to include this race on this list, not only because it will go down as historic but also because it was a thrilling finish to watch. When Saxon Warrior hit the front with only two furlongs to go it looked as if he would run out an easy winner and hand Aidan O’Brien his record breaking 26th group 1 win of the season on a silver platter. That wasn’t entirely the case however, as the John Gosden trained Roaring Lion quickened well to meet the eventual winner and then looked as if he would draw away to win easily. His inexperience shone through though and he ran all over the track like a slalom skier whilst his rival, Saxon Warrior, maintained a true line down the rail and fought back to reclaim his lead and win by a neck to the roar of the crowd at Doncaster, the likes of which I’ve never heard at the South Yorkshire venue.
Number 4 – Champion Stakes (Cracksman)
Again a race only run recently, but what a race it was. Some may argue that Cracksman’s performance does not deserve to be the highest rated in Europe this year, but nobody can say that his seven length demolition of a high quality field was anything less than impressive. To beat a field that included globetrotting sensation Highland Reel and dual Classic winner Brametot as easily as he did in testing conditions was something very special, and a contest between this son of Frankel and Enable next season sets up to be nothing short of a thrill.
Number 3 – Juddmonte International Stakes (Ulysses)
Yet again, the showpiece of the York Ebor meeting was nothing short of a spectacle with three monsters of racing holding their ground: Ulysses, Barney Roy and Churchill. Spectators that day were treated to a tactical masterclass and one of the most thrilling finishes of the season which saw the two highest rated three year old colts at that point go head to head as they came up the straight before being collared by Ulysses close to home under a brilliant ride by Jim Crowley whose confidence in his horse had to be admired with how patient his ride was. Three of the highest rated horses this year fighting out a thrilling finish on the Knavesmire definitely deserved a place on my list.
Number 2 – Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Enable)
In my opinion, this should have been the highest rated race in Europe this season in terms of the quality in the field and the ease in which they were beaten by the brilliant three year old filly who has lit up the 2017 season. It was only ever going to be Enable who would win this race, yes she faced her toughest opposition yet but she’s Enable of course she was going to win. Her ability to quicken away from a field filled with some of the best horses in the world is one to stare at in awe and we must make sure that we enjoy this wonder-filly whilst we still can.
Number 1 – Gold Cup (Big Orange)
I know that on paper there are better races out there, but in terms of entertainment value there could only ever be one winner – the Ascot Gold Cup and that tremendous tussle between Big Orange and Order Of St George. This was the first time that these two horses with such big reputations would meet, Order Of St George was the reigning champion and expected to win whilst Big Orange was the people’s horse and was expected to win. The race itself is one that I would happily watch everyday for the rest of my life, the heart and courage that Big Orange showed to stay in front all the way around the two and a half miles in one of the rides of the season by James Doyle combined with the head to head finish is a match made in heaven. In my opinion, there is no doubt that this was the best race we have seen this year.
We have been treated to a colossal extravaganza of flat racing entertainment, and it’s not over yet with a ton of top class international racing still on its way including the Breeders Cup this coming weekend for which we here at Rein It In will be sharing all of our tips for so stay tuned throughout the week.
Have a good week everyone x