This Saturday sees Ascot hosting the QIPCO British Champions Day, the last big UK race meeting of the flat season writes ED DARK.
The weather may yet have the biggest say with Storm Babet doing its level best to soak the track.
Director of racing and public affairs Nick Smith told the Racing Post: “The rules are written very clearly that if there is heavy in the going description on the morning of the race then we will switch to the inner course. We will be monitoring conditions and will make decisions as and when it is appropriate to do so.”
A superb line-up of the best horses and jockeys taking part in the UK’s most valuable race day, with prize money totalling £4 million at stake. This year’s edition is extra special as the world’s most famous jockey, Frankie Dettori, bids farewell to Britain before heading to the United States to continue his career overseas.
The race day has seen the likes of Frankel (pictured below), Minding, Stradivarius and Trueshan triumph. First staged in 2011 the event has cemented its place as the finest day of racing anywhere in the UK.
A total of six races over different distances will decide which horses are truly the best of their time over the five categories. Sprint, mile, middle distance, long distance and fillies & mares make up the British Champions Series.
LOOK OUT FOR: SIMON NOTT’S CHAMPIONS DAY BETTING BLOG ON SATURDAY!
1️⃣ First out of the stalls is the Long Distance Cup at 1.15pm, a Group 2 race over two miles. With the forecast heavy rain this will be a real stamina test. All eyes will be on Trueshan and Hollie Doyle attempting to win their fourth consecutive Long Distance Cup and with the forecast conditions in their favour he looks a solid 2/1 chance with Star Sports. However Kyprios representing the all conquering combination of Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore heads the market at 11/10. Last year’s Ascot & Goodwood Gold Cup winner missed most of this summer with an injury but returned with a good second in the Irish St Leger and with that run being his first for 344 days will come on for the run and being fresher than Trueshan would be my idea of the winner. ⭐ STARSPORTS.BET HORSE RACING MARKETS ⭐
2️⃣ We go from the out and out stayers to the speedsters in the second race of the day with the Champion Sprint Stakes at 1.50. This is the first of four consecutive Group 1 races and will be over in a flash as some of the fastest horses in Europe thunder up the finishing straight.
Last year’s winner Kinross under the evergreen Frankie Dettori heads the market at 15/8f with Star Sports. Will relish the testing ground and has winning form at Group level over 7f is a worthy favourite. Shaquille has been a revelation this year in winning 2 Group Ones, the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal meeting and then against his elders in the July Cup at Newmarket but was a very disappointing last of 16 on his most recent start and will need to put that behind him to bounce back here. However, I like the each way chances of Mill Stream. The fast improving three-year-old won two nice races at Deauville on testing ground and wasn’t disgraced in finishing 6th last time his first run in Group 1 company (2nd in the far side group) now back on a more testing surface looks value at 7/1 each way. ⭐ STARSPORTS.BET HORSE RACING MARKETS ⭐
3️⃣ At 2.25pm the Fillies’ and Mares will see the best female horses over one and half miles. This looks an absolutely wide open race as evidenced by the fact it’s 7/2 the field. Free Wind looking the likely favourite for the Gosden team with Frankie booked to ride. However she will need to show she can handle the heavy ground as she was very disappointing in the Lillie Langtry at Goodwood on similar ground. The last five times this race has been on soft or worse ground the winner had last been seen on testing ground in France so I like the chances of Rue Boissonade as her 4th in the Vermeille is as good as form on offer and she’s a strong stayer which will be needed here. ⭐ STARSPORTS.BET HORSE RACING MARKETS ⭐
4️⃣ Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, run over the classic one mile distance at 3.05pm will go a long way to determining this season’s champion miler. Paddington (pictured below) currently heads the betting with Star at 11/8 and looks hard to oppose. His winning spree ended last time when upped to 10f at York but now back down to the mile trip where he has been unbeaten this year looks a good chance for him to add another Group 1 after a short break. ⭐ STARSPORTS.BET HORSE RACING MARKETS ⭐
5️⃣ The centrepiece of an extraordinary day’s racing, the Champion Stakes is at 3.45pm. With £1m+ in prize money the most valuable mile and a quarter race in Europe has a famous roll call of winners. French raiders have won this race twice since 2016 and their Horizon Dore heads the market at 2/1. Having won his last four races over the trip including winning the Prix Dollar on Arc day and the ground in his favour is a worthy favourite. King Of Steel is the shortest of the “home” runners but the Derby runner-up is at his best when the ground is on the fast side. Mostahdaf is the highest rated of these having won the Prince of Wales at the Royal meeting and beating Nashwa and Paddington over this trip at York but is another that would want better ground. ⭐ STARSPORTS.BET HORSE RACING MARKETS ⭐
6️⃣ The final race of the day at 4.25pm. The Balmoral Handicap over one mile with a prize pot of £200,000. This will be a challenging race for punters as shown last year with Sheilr winning at 80/1 and being a wide open 6/1 the field. Normally the best form guide is the competitive 7f handicap run here two weeks ago, my eye-catcher that day was Rhoscolyn staying on into 5th place having had a bit of a hampered run. At 14/1 he looks a nice bit of each way value for the David O’Meara stable who are always to be feared in big field handicaps. ⭐ STARSPORTS.BET HORSE RACING MARKETS ⭐