Best of Flat Racing 2018: our writers` picks
Best of the Flat 2018: our writers’ picks
Our team of writers selected their best horses, jockeys, trainers and races from the 2018 Flat season, with their picks put to the vote on our twitter account @TheRacingHub_
Congratulations to Bruce Benton who won our Best of the Flat 2018 Competition and receives a signed copy of Fifty Shades of Hay by David Ashforth
Bruce correctly answered the following question:
What percentage of our twitter poll did Enable win as Best Horse
The answer was 69%
Fifty Shades of Hay is published by Racing Post Books, £12.99
Heading in to the winter and early spring the Aiden O’Brien trained Saxon Warrior was supposed to be the second coming of Pegasus according to the ‘Experts ‘. He proved to be a fair winner of the 2000 Guineas, however that proved to be his only success of the campaign, and he was retired following five subsequent defeats, and picking up an injury in the Irish Champion. Roaring Lion on the other hand went from strength to strength following a third in the Craven Stakes behind Masar, and a fifth place behind Saxon Warrior at Newmarket, by winning the Dante Stakes at York in May, running a solid third in the Derby at Epsom when maybe not truly staying the mile and a half. These appeared only the start of what was to come with a Quad of Group 1 successes in the coming months, with victories in the Eclipse at Sandown – the Juddmonte International at York – the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and the Qipco sponsored Queen Elizabeth II stakes at Ascot, once and for all proving to be a superior colt than the best of the O’Brien camp in 2018. A thoroughly genuine and top-class individual at a mile or a mile and a quarter.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 16%
We saw her only three times, but Enable was the standout performer for me this Flat season. Her 2018 comeback after a stunning season last year was put on hold after some filling had been found in a knee. The connections had to be and were patient, shunning York and going to Kempton for a prep for the Arc. She won the race in style and then headed to Longchamp to win back-to-back Arcs. It wasn’t as great a winning distance as last year, but it was enough to make her my best Flat horse of the year. But, by god, was there more to come. Kentucky, the Breeders Cup, and victory in the Turf. Standout, absolutely standout.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 69%
For me it has to be Laurens. She danced every dance for her owner (excuse pun). Seven Group One races. Won four including Prix Diane and Sun Chariot. Usually led from start to finish inviting her rivals to “come and get me” before showing class and tenacity to hold them at bay. She was possibly underrated due to the number of top fillies running this season. But her record stands the closest examination.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 7%
From May to October, whatever the ground, trip, tactics, kept winning.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 8%
2018 turned out to be the year that Murphy truly showed what he is capable of, he’s always seemed to be a gifted rider but a host of Group 1 wins (Nine in total – in the UK, France, Ireland, Germany and Dubai) also proved he is a rider for the big occasions. A year he will likely never forget, and surely a future champion jockey one day. On top of that seems a thoroughly likeable individual.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 32%
With 55 wins representing a 24% strike rate, Frankie Dettori continues to be at the top of his game and gets my vote. And that’s before he rides a double at the Breeders’ Cup. Magnifico.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 47%
Silvestre de Sousa
Champion again, for the third time. He is so consistent, and I find it strange that he does not get as many big race rides as some of his contemporaries. A fine example to any young jockey.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 5%
Made the most of his association with William Haggas and consistent in both riding and eloquence throughout the season.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 15%
Year in year out Gosden always seems to have a stable full of talent, and every year he appears to deliver. Enable – Roaring Lion – Stradavarius – Cracksman – Without Parole – Lah Ti Dar, Too Darn Hot and Calyx are just a few names to make the headlines during 2018. A master of his trade without a doubt, and a very worthy champion for the season who greatly appreciates the staff that keep the yard ticking over every day of the week.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 62%
Whilst many of the big Flat races went the way of the major training conglomerates, a stand-out training feat for me was by Jessica Harrington for the four Group 1 races she won with Alpha Centauri: the Irish 1000 Guineas, the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarker, and then the Jacques Le Marois Stakes at Deauville. Apart from anything else, it was clear how much the horse and her victories meant to her and how sad it was that injury forced the filly’s premature retirement.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 15%
I think Mark Johnston has had another great season. And to break the record for most British winners was just reward for someone who regularly gets 200 winners a season. In fact he has only missed the mark twice in the last ten years (and one of them was a 195 total). He places his horses well and their fitness is a factor.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 4%
The main reason for the Godolphin revival and giving some much-needed competition to the Coolmore monopolists.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 19%
Prix de l’Arc Triomphe
Going in to the race there were question marks over the 2017 winner Enable following a much-interrupted preparation. While a win at Kempton in a four-runner contest over Crystal Ocean had someway proved her wellbeing, there were still the odd doubt over whether she was 100% ready for the Arc. Sea Of Class – a fast improving 3yo filly appeared to be one of her main rivals, and so it proved with Enable hanging on by a short neck from a rapidly closing Sea Of Class. It will be a race that will be talked about in years to come, particularly as the runner up had come from so far back. Unlucky? possibly but despite some criticism in some quarters I thought James Doyle had given Sea Of Class a good ride from a disadvantageous stall draw. Had he rushed her forward earlier on to gain a better position then I feel she may have been beaten further. Once again girl power was the order of the day with a brace of top-class fillies fighting out the finish.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 53%
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Two older horses, Poet’s Word and Crystal Ocean, trained to perfection by a master trainer, Sir Michael Stoute (pictured), giving everything and miles clear of the rest.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 18%
Coral Eclipse Stakes
It was a race where two of the best fought it out, with Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior separated by a neck on the line. Saxon Warrior tracked the leaders until two out when asked for an effort and hit front a furlong from home. Meanwhile, Roaring Lion was held up, and at one point was at the back of the field, until he came to the two-furlong marker when he began his challenge and wound in the leader less than 100 yards from the winning post, but in doing so edged to the right, taking the runner-up with him – kept the race but it was a contest where both horses gave their all.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 14%
Ascot Gold Cup
Has to be the Ascot Gold Cup. You should know by now how much I love distance races. Stradivarius had a blemish free season and this race was the highlight. As the commentator said, “At the furlong pole four in line”. All top class horses. All giving their all. Wonderful.
@TheRacingHub_ Twitter poll result 15%