British Champions Day at Ascot is now billed as the finale of the European Flat racing season and has been running for eight years. It is the richest raceday in the British racing calendar and some of the finest horses around battle it out at the Berkshire track.
As the culmination of the QIPCO British Champions Series, this raceday features the end-of-season championship races for five racing divisions: Ten-furlong horses (The Champion Stakes), Milers (The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes), Sprinters (six furlongs), Long distance horses (two miles) and Fillies and Mares (one mile and four furlongs).
Due to the recent inclement weather the Fillies & Mares race, Long Distance Cup and Champion Stakes will be run on the inner course where the ground is much better.
Here is your guide to all six races on Saturday afternoon:
1:35pm – Champions Sprint Stakes
The sprinters take centre stage in the £600,000 Champions Day Sprint, one of the most hotly contested races on the card.
Martyn Meade’s Advertise understandably leads the betting after registering wins this season in the Commonwealth Cup and the Prix Maurice de Gheest. Frankie Dettori takes the ride which will probably contract his price down even further.
Recent Prix de la Foret winner One Master drops in trip for the William Haggas team, while The Tin Man has become a standing dish here, running in the race for the fifth successive year.
Andrew Balding saddles Donjuan Triumphant and given the ground conditions, looks somewhat overpriced at 25/1.
2:10pm – Long Distance Cup
The staying stars take centre stage in the second race and Stradivarius heads the 10 final declarations.
The John Gosden-trained five-year-old won last year’s renewal and is now on a winning streak of 10 victories.
Aidan O’Brien’s Kew Gardens, the 2018 Leger winner, is the most obvious danger to the favourite. He was runner-up in the Ireland last time on his first try at this distance.
Withhold, a six-length winner of the Listed Rose Bowl Stakes at Newmarket, looks the only other conceivable danger.
2:45pm – Champion Fillies And Mares Stakes
The top female stars of the turf will battle it out here for the £600,000 end-of-season climax.
Oaks winner Anapurna, showed that she is back in tip-top form after taking the Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp on Arc weekend.
Her in-form stablemate Star Catcher, who has won the Ribblesdale Stakes, Irish Oaks and Prix Vermeille on her last three starts will be a pretty tough nut to crack but the track conditions could prove to be a leveller on the day.
Fleeting and Delphinia both ran super races on the Arc weekend, with the latter having her run checked behind Anapurna in Paris. She looks like a prime candidate to gain compensation for the Aidan O’Brien team.
3:20pm – Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Some of the best horses in training line up to contest Europe’s richest mile race, with an impressive roll of honour which includes Solow, Minding and Frankel.
The Group Two Prix Daniel Wildenstein winner The Revenant makes the trip across the Channel to contest the race for the French trainer, Francis-Henri Graffard.
Benbatl, who bounced back to his best last time in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket, is the hope of the Godolphin team while David O’Meara’s Queen Anne winner Lord Glitters will be a popular choice given the going.
2000 Guineas scorer Magna Grecia will be having his first outing since flopping in the Irish Guineas back in the spring but he is reported to be spot on for this.
Marcus Tregoning’s Greenham winner Mohaather, has his first run for almost 200 days.
The John Quinn-trained Safe Voyage will be right at home with conditions underfoot and he can run a big race at a nice price.
4:10pm – Champion Stakes
This is Europe’s richest ten furlong race and it is absolutely there for the taking this year.
Aidan O’Brien’s Magical holds the key form, having won the Irish Champion Stakes and finished second to Enable in the Coral-Eclipse and Yorkshire Oaks earlier in the season. She had several entries on this card but quinquagenarian O’Brien has opted for this one.
Have punters gone wet between the ears when it comes to the massive amount of money some of them have piled on to Addeybb this week?
Admittedly the five-year-old likes the soft/heavy going as he has shown at Haydock and Royal Ascot, but he does have quite a bit to find with some of these on the form book.
The John-Gosden trained Coronet has won Group One races in France on her last two starts and is very much a live contender while Japanese star Deidre was considered rather unlucky in the Irish Champion Stakes and will hoping to finish closer to Magical this time.
Andrew Balding’s Fox Tal, victorious at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting, has been supplemented at a cost of £75,000 and connections will be hoping to recoup that outlay with a bold showing in this Ascot feature.
4:40pm – Balmoral Handicap
The £250,000 Balmoral Handicap brings down the curtain on QIPCO British Champions Day and always attracts a bumper entry.
A maximum field of 20 will line up for the Ascot finale which is Europe’s richest mile handicap.
Lord North heads both the weights and the betting after his last gasp Cambridgeshire win, but with 12lbs extra to carry and completely different ground conditions, he looks like one to be taking on.
One to consider is the mud loving Mitchum Swagger who has dropped to a good mark and represents the hottest yard of the moment, that of Ralph Beckett.
Clon Coulis suffered an agonising defeat in the Royal Hunt Cup over course and distance earlier in the season and worth a second look, while Amedeo Modigliano cannot be dismissed out of hand simply because of who trains him.
David O’Meara masterminded a win out of Gulliver last Saturday in the Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap at York and there is every chance that he could double up for the same owners this weekend with Escobar.
888sport’s Champions Day Picks:
1:35 – Donjuan Triumphant (e/w).
2:10 – Stradivarius (win).
2:45 – Delphinia (e/w).
3:20 – Safe Voyage (e/w).
4:00 – Magical (win).
4:40 – Escobar (e/w).