Champions Day has the look of a real winner
The finale of the British horseracing season takes place at Ascot on Saturday the 15th of October, QIPCO British Champions Day. The Berkshire venue hosts a brilliant six race card which includes four Group 1 events, a Group 2 and a competitive handicap to wrap up the proceedings. The Champion Stakes is the day’s highlight, going to post at 3:05. Here, we preview a fantastic-looking betting card.
12:45 – Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup
Thirteen go to post over the two miles trip in the day’s opener, the Long Distance Cup. Only a handful here can be entirely ruled out meaning it’s a super competitive race. Most bookmakers bet 5/1 the field, which tells the story.
With this being the case, a tentative value approach will be undertaken. At the prices, WICKLOW BRAVE (14/1) and the interesting AMOUR DE NUIT (20/1) get the nod.
The Willie Mullins trained Wicklow Brave is a surprisingly big price in compassion to Agent Murphy and Forgotten Rules – two horses his form ties in with. Little separated the trio in the Irish St Leger and with Ryan Moore on we are sure to get a good run for our money.
At 20/1 the only three-year-old in the race, Amour De Nuit catches the eye. Many in here can’t be said to be improving, but this progressive stayer looks on an upward curve. He gets a lot of weight from this field and while this is a big step-up in class, in an open race, he gets a lukewarm nod.
Agent Murphy, last year’s winner Forgotten Rules along with Litigant and Pallasator we couldn’t put you off.
1:20 – Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes
Another big field to deal with here. Twenty horses bid for glory in this year’s Group 1 Sprint Stakes. There is little doubt Muhaarar is the one to beat over this six furlongs trip, but he is no shoe-in on the back of an extended break. Charlie Hills’s horse has been one of the finds of the season and he’ll hope to sign off his race career in style before heading to the breeding sheds.
While we have a big field, plenty look out of their depth. Gordon Lord Byron, Strath Burn and Twilight Son are the others to note.
Little separate the latter pair mentioned on their recent runs in the Haydock Sprint Cup. Twilight Son just came out on top this day, but Strath Burn didn’t have the same cosy run through the winner had. With that being the case, it’s a little surprising to see Charlie Hills’s Strath Burn nearly twice the price (10/1) of his last conqueror. On value grounds, Strath Burn would be favoured of the pair.
The thoroughly consistent and tough Gordon Lord Byron is sure to throw down the gauntlet to his younger rivals. We fancied him to win the Haydock Sprint Cup, but he was injured in the race and obviously didn’t give his true running.
A good sixth last time out in the Prix de la Foret, Tom Hogan’s stablestar looks to be coming back to himself and should enjoy the return to six furlongs on a softer surface. The one worry is the draw, we are not quite sure how it will pan out for him.
Muhaarar is the one to bet, but at 16/1 GORDON LORD BYRON gets a tentative each-way vote in the hope his draw won’t hinder. He’d be a stronger fancy if drawn towards the middle.
The likes of Lightening Moon, Adaay and the improving The Tin Man are not completely ruled out.
1:55 – Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes
A field of 12 go to post for the day’s second Group 1, the Fillies And Mares Stakes. Run over 12 furlongs on Ascot’s round course, the prospect of ground with cut and plenty pace on means horses who stay well may have an advantage here.
It looks another tight race with bookmakers betting 9/2 the field. Covert Love has been another success story of the 2015 flat season as has her trainer Hugo Palmer. She is the one to beat, but having got easy leads in both her recent runs – where she finished second and first in Group 1s – it may prove time to take her on having had some tough races.
Candarliya and Sea Calisi are two more fillies possibly worth opposing given the pair have had long campaigns. Tapestry of Aidan O’Brien’s is another who doesn’t get our juices flowing after her incredibly poor effort in the Arc meaning there looks to be value bets obtainable.
A chance is taken with James Fanshawe’s SPEEDY BOARDING. This filly is just the type to go on improving given her physique and with her coming in more lightly-raced than most and on the back of a career best she holds each-way claims. The last twice the ground has been too quick for her, but Ascot’s sod on Saturday will prove ideal.
The inform Journey is another we like while Arabian Queen is sure to outrun her odds of 20/1, but may just struggle to last it home.
2:30 – Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
We still don’t know if Gleneagles will run which makes this a little bit difficult. If he doesn’t run, it changes the entire shape of the race. Either way, the horse everyone in this field needs to beat is Solow.
Freddy Head’s big, imposing grey has been a model of consistency this season winning four Group 1s in-a-row. The stiff nature of the straight mile plays to this gelding’s strengths and with the ground sure to suit, he has everything in his favour.
On fast ground Gleneagles would probably just get the call over Solow. He has looked brilliant this season on quick terrain, but the feeling is Ascot may not be quick enough for him to show his best. That, and he may not even run!
Kodi Bear and Territories are two horses with sounds each-way claims, but should Gleneagles not run ELM PARK holds just as strong an each-way chance as the aforementioned pair, but at a much bigger price.
The straight, stiff Ascot course should suit him. He reminds us a touch of Solow actually, in that he likes to race prominently and stays well. He is not in the same class of Solow, though, but he at least comes in fresh where plenty have had tougher campaigns.
3:05 – Qipco Champion Stakes
This race revolves around Jack Hobbs and Found. Jack Hobbs is the right race-favourite, but whether he deserves to be nearly four times the price of Found is debatable.
John Gosden’s Irish Derby winner has been somewhat unlucky to bump into Golden Horn on numerous occasions this season. One came in the Dante over ten furlongs on fast ground while the second came in the Derby, again on quick going over 12 furlongs.
The son of Halling looks a strong stayer so the drop to ten furlongs here is not certain to play to his strengths. The softish ground and stiff track may see him get away with it, however, and with this being the case is the one to beat.
At the current prices, Found (4/1) would be the confident value play over Jack Hobbs (5/4) if she came straight here from her Irish Champion Stakes second. That form behind Golden Horn is as good as anything Jack Hobbs has produced, but the worry is this race being an afterthought.
Found got no run 13 days ago in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe so connections have decided to roll the dice and run here. This is not an ideal preparation, but we’ll trust Aidan O’Brien to have FOUND in good order and she gets the value nod.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.