1. Masar – Derby, Epsom
It was a representative field for the blue riband of the turf, with the winners of most of the major trials in the line-up, though it was the 2000 Guineas form that came to the fore. Not, as anticipated, in the shape of the Guineas winner himself Saxon Warrior, but that of the beaten favourite at Newmarket Masar, who bounced back from that reverse to give Godolphin its first Derby winner, the first five finishing clear at the end of a strongly-run race.
2. Alpha Centauri – Coronation Stakes, Royal Ascot
If one or two of the top races had fallen a little short during the week, with not all of the big names living up to their billing, any deficit was made up by a simply outstanding performance from Alpha Centauri who blew apart a strong field for the Coronation Stakes. It included the 1000 Guineas winner, the one-two from the Pouliches, and the previous year's top two-year-old filly, all left in Alpha Centauri’s wake in a performance that was the best in the race in the last 25 years.
3. Calyx – Coventry Stakes, Royal Ascot
The Coventry is the first major two-year-old race of the year, and often a strong pointer to future events at the highest level; seven of the last 10 winners have gone on to win in Group 1 company, including three in a Classic. Calyx was a fair bit better than the result in this year’s renewal, having raced in the seemingly disadvantaged stands group, in command on that side nearly two furlongs out, and running on too stoutly for the closers in the far-side group. To put the race in context, the performances of the next two home were good enough to have won the 2017 renewal.
4. Stradivarius – Gold Cup, Royal Ascot
It was a strong Gold Cup even without last year's winner, Big Orange (who missed all of this season through injury), involving four previous Group 1 winners, the French-trained Vazirabad bringing something different to the table as he came to Britain for the first time and the form was really solid. There’s no question that it's right up there with the best renewals in recent years and, though the overall time was poor – Mount Moriah set no more than a fair pace, increasing it steadily once they were in the back straight – the finish was a relatively fast one. Most importantly, it confirmed that the Stayers’ Bonus was not only possible for Stradivarius, but likely.
5. Poet’s Word – Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Royal Ascot
A small field for the Prince of Wales's Stakes revolved around Cracksman, 12 lb clear on his 2017 form, but he was nowhere near his peak at Epsom earlier in the month and disappointed here, too, leaving the door open for a consistent, high-class operator in Poet's Word to take advantage. Others were below their best too, but a fast time gave more merit to the winner's performance, and he duly backed it up when holding on gamely against stablemate Crystal Ocean in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes a month later.
6. Roaring Lion – Juddmonte International, York
Over many years, the Juddmonte International has earned its reputation as one of the deepest Group 1s of the summer, and a fitting field of eight turned up for the 2018 renewal, with all bar one of them already successful at the top level in the calendar year. It was more of a clash of the generations than either the Eclipse or King George had been the previous month, bringing together some of the top three-year-old talent with high-achieving older horses like Thunder Snow, Benbatl and Poet's Word, who was sent off favourite. However, it was the younger Roaring Lion who put up a much more spectacular display than when edging a tight finish to the Eclipse seven weeks earlier, quickening emphatically having been perfectly placed by Oisin Murphy.
7. Too Darn Hot – Dewhurst Stakes, Newmarket
Even without the notable absentees, Quorto and Ten Sovereigns, this was a strong Dewhurst, featuring Too Darn Hot and Anthony Van Dyck, two colts that had already reached the 120s on Timeform ratings, as well as the previously unbeaten Sangarius, Group 1 winner Advertise and Royal Lodge winner Mohawk. Run at a fair test, the result on the day was very solid, and it was Too Darn Hot who rose to the top once more, overcoming immaturity/The Dip to forge clear in the closing stages. A ‘fantastically exciting prospect’ according to the Timeform race report.
8. Cracksman – Champion Stakes, Ascot
Sporting first-time blinkers, the 2017 winner Cracksman returned to his best to end his career on a high note, and there was a lot to like about his performance, even if the principal opposition was below par and plenty of potential challengers were absent. Questions like how he would have coped against Enable in an Arc – such an obvious race for him – and how effective he would be in blinkers a second time will never be answered, but there is no taking away from his two top-class performances in this race.
9. Enable – Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Longchamp
The standout contender on ratings, Enable became the eighth dual winner of the Arc, fairly hot on the heels of Treve, though you have to go back to Alleged in the 1970s for the one before her. Enable's winning performance wasn't at the same level as in 2017, but injury meant she didn't reappear until September, plus she reportedly had a small setback in the meantime, all of which seemed to catch up with her in the closing stages after she looked set for a more decisive success when striking on over a furlong out. It can't be rated as a high-quality renewal, but the winner is already proven as top-class and the three-year-old runner-up, Sea of Class, is on her way there.
10. Cross Counter – Melbourne Cup, Flemington
No British horse had finished better than second in the Melbourne Cup – a run which was started by the Godolphin-owned Central Park, who did so as a 50/1 outsider in the 1999 renewal – so it was apt that the Godolphin-owned Cross Counter finally became the first British-trained winner of the race, as well as the second Northern Hemisphere three-year-old in a row to win this race. In fact, he led home a British one-two-three from a seven-strong challenge that also included three from the yard of Aidan O'Brien.