It’s none of my business, but am I wrong in thinking that if five of the eight Champions Day meeting have been run on ground described as Soft (or worse), that it might be the wrong time to have it? Answers on a postcard please, secure in the knowledge that criticism of this initiative from which so many marketing mouths are fed, is not tolerated and your response will, therefore, be unpublished.
1:35 Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1) Cl1 (3yo+) 6f
The trends narrow it down to four and they are CAPE BYRON – MAKE A CHALLENGE – HELLO YOUMZAIN – ONE MASTER. All four have won on ground Soft or worse, but HELLO YOUMZAIN edges it on my ratings. He won the Haydock Sprint Cup in September, making every yard, edging slightly left, but finishing strongly. He had been kept fresh for the race, having been a 3l third in the Commonwealth Cup, and with only seven races on the clock for a total lifetime distance of 5¼m of racing, and being within 4lbs of his last winning mark, you’d have to think 11/2 a fair price. Willie Haggas has ONE MASTER in the race, who won the Prix de la Foret a few days ago on very soft ground and for the second time. Last year he went to the BC where he was a game 5th – but I’m not sure he doesn’t save himself for Longchamps and then burns it all off. He’s 12lbs wrong of his last winning mark, and he’s not for me. Denis O’Hagen has been campaigning MAKE A CHALLENGE brilliantly this season, and if he still has the stamina after a busy season, then he won’t mind the ground, is within 2 of his last winning mark and has appeal at around 8/1. LORD BYRON is one of my favourite campaigners and it would be grand to see him in the frame.
2:10 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m7½f
I’m struggling to see past STRADIVARIUS who is the season’s top stayer for the GosDet duo. There really isn’t much to oppose him, but I might have a small punt on MAX DYNAMITe for a third place. As many of you will know you can often get odds for 4th place at a revised price and if I could get 33s about Max for 4 places I’m definitely having a pop. WITHHOLD appeals as the likely runner up for forecast purposes.
2:45 Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m3½f
GosDet and STAR CATCHER – don’t be silly… of course its them again. STAR CATCHER is proven in the conditions, having won twice on soft and she remains unbeaten over the trip. Frankie has plumped for her over Anapurna, (the man is also unbeaten on her), and that looks a significant decision. With MAGICAL going to The Champion Stakes, FLEETING becomes AP’s best hope in this race and isn’t without merit.
3:20 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1) (Sponsored By Qipco) (British Champions Mile) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m
Francois-Henri Graffard, the french trainer of THE REVENANT described him as a ‘swimmer’ after he again handled some of the worst racecourse conditions in France. His last race, taking the Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamps on, by his standards, reasonable Very Soft going, was jaw-droppingly impressive. He was giving at least 2lb to all his rivals, and he demonstrated a strong set of gears on a powerful engine which bought him smoothly to the front and allowed him to surge clear by 5l in the final half a furlong. When trained by Hugo Palmer, he had run second behind Dee Ex Bee in an Epsom juvenile, and he just seems to literally soak up all the racing he is given. Qipco 2000 Guineas winner MAGNA GRECIA and many of his rivals have little proven gound experience, and the first time hood could cement THE REVENANT’s chances of a first Group One. HAPPY POWER, Andrew Balding’s colt couldn’t get close to BENBATL,
(who I don’t fancy) in the Joel Stakes LTO, but that was on good ground and I think the ground at Ascot will swing things around at a big price. Silvestre De Sousa’s mount has won his last two starts on the soft, and in G1 company his record isn’t decrepit. Good for a place me’ thinks.
4:00 Qipco Champion Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) (Group 1) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m2f
The trends say you need a 3-5yo, rated 115+ and a top 2 finish LTO. Hmmm, that leaves us with a huge selection of just the GosDet team’s CORONET. Haggas has ADDEYYB of which there have been tips and chat, but he’s a G2 horse at best. MAGICAL is the obvious danger and DEIDRE might possibly get a place – but probably not. A trio for GosDet then.
4:40 Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored By Qipco) Cl2 (3yo+) 1m
I backed Aidan’s AMADEO MODIGLIANI for The Derby last year, but for various reasons, he was off games and the track for that entire 2018 season. On bare paper, his performance looks a little drear, but he needed his first run, had dreadful traffic problems in another. Then off, with quel q’un, then back at Cork and hitting traffic and then an empty battery. Again on paper, he is 3lb well-in based on his run at Cork, but one suspects there could be more hiding beneath the surface and his price suggests that this is not unrecognised at home. CLON COULIS was beaten the shortest of noses, in the Royal Hunt Cup over C&D earlier in June and was given a typical Jamie Spencer Wait Wait ride, just failing to beat AFAAK. She’s back to that winning mark, loves the ground and if dropped out, won’t have a draw problem out of one. Might have a pop at KYNREN who won the Challenge Cup a couple of weeks ago, and could make the frame COOLAGH FOREST had a 3l easy victory at Salisbury LTO and might have a great deal more available and COMMANDER COLE could give young Fallon a career-boosting win.