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Cracksman and Winx share top honours in World’s Best Racehorse awards

© Photo Healy Racing

John Gosden’s Cracksman and Australian wonder mare Winx have been named jointly as the 2018 Longines World’s Best Racehorses.

Cracksman appeared to have lost some of his stardust in the first half of last season, only scraping home in the Coronation Cup at Epsom before suffering a shock defeat in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

However, he bounced back to his brilliant best when successfully defending his crown in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot in October and the now-retired five-year-old ended 2018 as the top-rated horse in the Northern Hemisphere on a mark of 130.

Speaking after being presented with the award at a ceremony at The Landmark Hotel in London, Cracksman’s owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer said: “He has provided us with tremendous excitement.

“He certainly rewarded us (for keeping him in training as a four-year-old) and proved how good he was in the second Champion Stakes at Ascot.

“We knew he was a brilliant horse and we’re thrilled to have him.

“I would like to mention my staff, my blacksmith and the vets that come to us at our small stud. Without them we would not have the horse.”

Frankie Dettori partnered the son of Frankel in all but one of his eight career victories.

He said: “I’m blessed to be riding such great horses. Cracksman was a beautiful individual and very kind, and in my 31-year career he is the horse with probably the biggest stride.

“It was amazing when you rode him and we achieved so much. His performance in both Champion Stakes was tremendous and he truly deserves to be the joint top-rated horse in the world.

“It’s been a fantastic journey and hopefully I’m going to stay around and ride some of his progeny.”

The only horse able to match Cracksman’s figure of 130 was the Chris Waller-trained Winx, who was last seen claiming a historic fourth victory in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October — her 29th successive win and her 33rd from 39 career starts overall.

Waller and Winx’s band of owners made the journey across the globe to attend the awards ceremony.

Waller said: “She’s made us all look pretty special and that’s the best way of describing her. She’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse and I’ve got a great team behind me that are in awe of her every day. For whatever reason she just keeps running consistently well — year in year out — at this high level.

“We might be down in the other part of the world, but we certainly have full respect of all the horses up here and to be recognised on this huge stage really is special.

“It’s an amazing thing, to be associated with horses like this.”

Part-owner Debbie Kepitis said: “It’s very touching because we love her and are thrilled at what she does, but to have so many of the public take her into their hearts is so special.

“People will her to win — I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.”

Asked when Winx’s glittering career could finally come to an end, another part-owner, Peter Tighe, said: “We don’t have a definite date. We’re going to let her tell us — it’s all up to Winx.

“We’ll have a comeback on February 16 in Sydney and if everything goes to plan we may have another race and just take it one race at a time.

“We’re ecstatic to win this award and can I also congratulate the Cracksman team. It’s an honour to share this award with you. We love our horse as much as I’m sure you love yours.”

American ace Accelerate was named the third highest-rated horse in the world with a rating of 128. A stunning 2018 campaign for John Sadler’s charge included a jaw-dropping win in the Pacific Classic and victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The six-year-old is a hot favourite to round off his racing career with another huge win in Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.

Stephanie Hronis, Accelerate’s co-owner, said: “To have a champion horse like Accelerate has been exceptional — it has exceeded our dreams of when we first started in 2010.

“It was amazing to watch each of his races and the wins are still being absorbed.

“To be recognised on the international racehorse front, we are very grateful.”

Gosden was also responsible for Roaring Lion, who ended the year as the joint-fourth highest-rated horse in the world on 127 after racking up four successive Group One wins with triumphs in the Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

For a third time in four years, the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was named the Longines World’s Best Horse Race for 2018.

Gosden’s brilliant mare Enable successfully defended her Arc crown in the first renewal run at ParisLongchamp, narrowly beating the William Haggas-trained Sea Of Class.