Crockford reviews 2012 and asks has there been a year for racing like it?
Before 2011/2012 if a punter was asked who was the best horse that they had seen in their lifetime a variety of well supported answers would be forthcoming – Nijinsky, Dancing Brave or Mill Reef would all be named. But surely now without question the matter is settled. The bold and courageous gift to public of seeing Frankel as a four year old allowed Frankel the chance to show that his dominance was complete. No one will ever forget his imperious victory in the 2011 2000 Guineas, his demolition of the field in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot or his memorable last victory on QIPCO Champions Day in October. Perhaps he has even eclipsed the legendary Eclipse which none would have of thought possible.
2012 also saw the rise another young pretender to the legend status. Camelot had swept all before him as a two year old and confirmed his reputation in taking the 2000 Guineas and following up in the Derby. All eyes then focused on Town moor where onlookers hoped that he could be the first horse since Oh So Sharp and Nijinsky to claim the coveted Triple Crown. Unfortunately, disappointment shattered the dream, the seeds of which may have been sown in his energy sapping run in bottomless ground at the Curragh. If Aidan O’Brien had claimed the final classic he would have had the set of classics. Hats off to Ballydoyle who now plan to follow the Frankel teams’ footsteps by running Camelot as a four year old. Rumours suggest as well that there may be another hope in the yard that could reach Camelot’s heights in the 2013 season –Mars.
The arrival of an Australian visitor to Royal Ascot was so eagerly awaited back at the beginning of the summer. Her Majesty The Queen even went to greet her in the pre-parade ring. Black Caviar came with an unbeaten record and left with it narrowly enacted. Luke Nolan and the crowds that day will always remember just how close it was. Perhaps she may once again visit our shores next year for Royal Ascot or for a match with the great Frankel.
Let’s not forget that 2012 saw another true champion of racing come to the fore – Richard Hughes. He is a deserved Champion Jockey whose style is second to none. This summer should always be remembered by recalling his brilliantly timed victories on so many mounts. His Super Seven at Windsor will never get the some coverage as that of Dettori at Ascot – when it should. To struggle as Hughes has and to win deserves more praise and plaudits than can be given. Crockford’s admiration for Richard Hughes knows no bounds. Surely he is amongst the great horsemen such as Archer and Piggott. With an excellent string of Hannon horses for 2013 he looks certain to have another good year.
John Gosden’s determination and skill paid off this year with him winning the Champion Trainer title. From Royal Ascot onwards it seemed that almost every big race was at his mercy. His partnership with William Buick has been more than fruitful and is destined to produce many more winners in years to come.
2012 was a brilliant year for flat racing but we must not forget the achievements in national hunt. Big Bucks and Quevega continued their domination of the Cheltenham Festival. Neptune Collonges went out on a high just beating Sunnyhillboy to the line in the Grand National. The 2011/12 and beginnings of 2012/13 season has seen the emergence of some new stars in Sprinter Sacre, Simonsig and Dynaste and the retirement of the great Kauto Star. Long Run was once again the King of Kempton and looks now poised to try to regain his Gold Cup crown in 2013. The 2012/13 season will be a repeat of the great trainers duel between Henderson and Nicholls that was played out in 2011/12.
On a sadder note after 241 years of racing Hereford may have held its final fixture. One of the most poignant moments of the year was when a member tied their annual badge to the winners enclosure after what could be the last race ever. Discussions and talks continue about the future of the track and that of Folkestone after both held their final programmed fixtures this month.
2012 was certainly a vintage year for racing – Frankel and his 14 wins finishing a career unbeaten, Camelot’s gallant attempt at the Triple Crown, Black Caviar at Royal Ascot, the Hughes magnificent seven and championship to name but a few highlights.
2013 has a lot to live up to
(Featured Photograph – Frankel “The Champion” by Stuart Rice)
(First Photograph – Richard Hughes on the way to the Weighing Room at Goodwood by Stuart Rice)
(Second Photograph – The last day at Hereford by Stuart Rice)