Top 5 ‘what-ifs’ of 2018
Playing the “what-if” game is endemic to a sport featuring innumerable variables, from troubled trips and adverse conditions to ill-timed setbacks. The counterfactuals I find most compelling are the ones that revolve around deliberate choice – the fork in the road and the option not taken. In 2017, one gnawing what-if was Cracksman’s skipping the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) despite then being at the peak of his powers. He could have belonged on the 2018 list too, although the circumstances in play this time around made him a more quizzical character. So here are my top five “what-ifs” that might have changed the course of 2018. Australian supermare’s welfare and long-term interests at heart in foregoing an international sortie. And I can understand how a record fourth Cox Plate (G1) was their overarching goal, not to be compromised by a midyear trek to the other side of the world. Yet given the weakness of the older European milers in a subpar renewal of the Queen Anne (G1), I’m sorely tempted to say that even an 80 percent Winx could have dispatched them. Of course, we’ll also never know if it might have cost her the history-making Cox Plate. While fans missed the opportunity of one spectacle, we were richly compensated by another, making this trade-off much happier than the rest.
- What if Mendelssohn hadn’t been a “guinea pig” during his dirt campaign?
- What if Saxon Warrior had dropped back to a mile?
- What if Polydream wasn’t a vet scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1)?
- What if Instagrand had been given the chance to finish his juvenile season?