British Champions Day 2017
British Champions Day 2017 has arrived. There is a record breaking £4.3 million
worth of prize money up for grabs and we have four Group One races and a Group
Two to enjoy as some of the biggest names in the horse racing game descend on
Ascot for the afternoon. The going, so often a talking point for this day, is soft and the weather
set to be pretty rough from the early hours of Saturday with
the threat of showers all day. They are off and running at 1.25 and the horses with the extra
burden of Girdys Gee Gees cash to carry this afternoon follow. I finished last
year + 8.63 to level stakes so fingers crossed for more profit this year. This could be a day for the jollies so hopefully I have got three or four winners here at least.
Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup
Anyone who has ever visited the site before will know what horse I am on in this. My favourite horse in training Big Orange lines-up and there is no-way I am going to bet against him. I am on each-way at 10-1. I just love the way this guy goes to the front and dares the rest to try and go by him. The ground is nowhere near perfect (I am not convinced hell even line-up) but he won’t be beat for lack of trying that’s for sure. We could be in for another cracker as he and Order Of St George face-off again and I will be screaming on Big for all I am worth. There is no denying what a gusty horse Order Of St George is but the season he has had with six appearances over distances ranging from 1m4f to 2m4f must catch-up with him sooner rather than later and Big did get the better of him in the Ascot Gold Cup.
Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes
Harry Angel has shown himself to be top class this year winning on ground ranging from Firm – Heavy and simply looks heads and shoulders above the rest. Caravggio did beat him in the Commonwealth Cup here at the Royal meeting but that seems a long time ago now. If the Clive Cox trained Godolphin owned colt shows up in the say form as he did for the Sprint Cup there is only one winner. Grab the 5-4.
Qipco British Champions Fillies' and Mares' Stakes
Vermeille winner Bateel is here
and she won’t mind the rain that has been about and is likely to be around on
and off all day and Triple G has 9-4. She won well that day with Journey 2½ lengths back in second and there is no obvious reason to
think the form can be reversed. The five-year-old has
improved steadily all year, winning a Group Three at Haydock, a Group Two at
Deauville and then at Chantilly. Journey of course won this last year
but she does look up against it trying to take the prize again. Trainer Francis Graffard has been hoping the heavens would open
telling the Press Association Sport earlier this week "All is fine ahead of Saturday and we're looking forward to it. Obviously
the softer the ground, the better it will be for her, but only because we know
she handles it so well and some of the others might not. But she's a top-class
filly and she has won on good ground this season."
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by Qipco
We are the over eight furlongs and this has attracted a top class field of milers with the older generation facing off against the Classic generation again. Ribchester, Churchill and Beat The Bank head the betting and I have backed them all at one time or another. Churchill hasn’t gone on to be the all conquering hero some predicted but the colt is certainly no slouch and has to be feared but I can’t be backing him to win this. I backed Beat The Bank when he won the G.2 Joel Stakes last time out and he is the progressive one making his way up the Milers ladder but as big a fan as I am I am not convinced he is capable of beating Ribchester. The Godolphin owned colt trained by Richard Fahey is the highest rated mile horse in Europe and is duly the jolly at 2-1 which I have. He blotted his copybook at Goodwood in the monsoon weather that we suffered on Sussex Stakes day but was back in the Winners Enclosure at Chantilly winning the G.1 Prix du Moulin. He has to give the Classic generation 3lb today but has be giving them more than that, and a beating, all season. The four-year-old is fancied to take this before, most likely, a tilt at the Mile Championship out in Kyoto Japan on 19th November. The Breeders Cup is still an option but there is a huge bonus on offer for any horse completing the Lockinge, Queen Anne and Kyoto Mile Championship treble. Saeed Bin Suroor has given Thunder Snow a break since finishing third in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August and he might make the places.
The Qipco Champion Stakes
It’s the big one at 3.50 is the main event. Worth £1.3m in prize money, the QIPCO Champion Stakes is the most valuable mile and a quarter race in Europe and as you would expect there are some bloody good middle distance horses lining-up. Ulysses has had a great season mixing it with the best all year but sadly is not here he is though the yardstick. Ulysses was just too good for Barney Roy in the G.1 Coral-Eclipse back in July giving him 10lb and the Godolphin colt has a chance but hes not for Triple G. Highland Reel won the G.1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes when the ground was rattling, Ulysees third, but was only fourth in the King George behind Enable with Ulysses second, and he hates the rain so things have gone against him anyway. That leaves Cliffs Of Moher possibly Ballydoyle’s best hope but Ulysses has been too good for him twice already this year. Churchill hasn’t gone on to be the all conquering hero some predicted but the colt is certainly no slouch and has to be feared but I can’t be backing him to win this and I still think he is an out and out miler anyway. Cracksman has been aimed at this and does get the 4lb off the older runners. John Gosden has been in bullish mood in the run-up and the colt is reportedly bigger and stronger, 16/17 kilos bigger, than when he ran third at Epsom in the Derby. Dettori says he isn’t worried about dropping down in distance but even he he did add “I'm praying the rain comes" - and it has. At 15-8 its Cracksman for me.
The Balmoral Handicap
I am still not sure why this race doesn’t start the day rather than bring proceedings to a close? With all due respect to those running it does feel like that last firework that you light only for it to fizzle a bit and then got out with a little puff of smoke. That said there is money to be won and the lightly raced four-year-old Zabeel Prince has been progressing nicely all season for Roger Varian and has had this as a target for a while. The way he won at York last time suggests there is plenty more to come, he has form on soft, and at 7-2 he is the pick in the lucky last down the straight mile.
16th October 2017
The Five-day declarations for Qipco British Champions Day are out and a number of the big names are still due to line-up.
Harry Angel remains on course to try to land a third successive top-level victory of the season in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. The Clive Cox-trained three-year-old is one of 14 remaining horses in the six-furlong Group One contest as he bids to follow up his victories in the July Cup and Sprint Cup.
The John Gosden-trained Journey could attempt to register back-to-back wins in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
Big Orange and Order Of St George, the first two home in the Ascot Gold Cup, could renew rivalry in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
Ribchester could face up to 16 rivals in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. Richard Fahey's stable star is a hot favourite for the straight-mile Group One having struck three times at the top level this season in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and, most recently, the Prix du Moulin at Chantilly.
Cracksman and Barney Roy are among 17 horses confirmed for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. Since placing in both the Epsom Derby and the Irish equivalent at the Curragh, the John Gosden-trained Cracksman has impressed in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York and the Prix Niel at Chantilly. Connections decided against a clash with stablemate Enable in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and he is instead set to drop to a mile and a quarter on Champions Day. Barney Roy, trained by Richard Hannon for Godolphin, was runner-up to Churchill in the 2,000 Guineas before gaining his revenge in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. The Excelebration colt has since been beaten by Ulysses in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and in the Juddmonte International at York. Ulysses still has the option after finishing third in the Arc at the start of the month. Trainer Sir Michael Stoute could also saddle Poet's Word. Aidan O'Brien's battalion includes Highland Reel, Churchill and Rhododendron - but not multiple Group One-winning filly Winter, who has also been taken out of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes. Potential French challenger Brametot is another interesting contender.
13th October 2017
John Gosden is keeping his fingers crossed for a favourable draw after confirming Cracksman will take his chance in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot. The three-year-old won the Voltigeur at York and the Prix Niel at Chantilly on his last two outings, adding to his third place in the Derby at Epsom back in June and second in the Irish equivalent. Gosden and owner Anthony Oppenheimer then opted to sidestep a clash with stablemate Enable in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe earlier this month, but the Newmarket handler has confirmed next Saturday's 10-furlong prize is on Cracksman's agenda.
He said: "He's in great form. He had a nice holiday after the Irish Derby into York and another nice gap then to Chantilly for the Prix Niel, and he's had another nice gap going into Ascot. He's in good form and I'm very happy with him. Frankie Dettori was pleased with his work on Wednesday and I'm looking forward to running him in the Champion Stakes. I hope he doesn't get a wide draw."
Gosden also has Jack Hobbs among the entries for the Group One heat, but the five-year-old is not certain to take his chance and his racing days could be over. The son of Halling has finished third in the last two renewals of the Champion Stakes and registered his first victory at the highest level in the Sheema Classic at Meydan in March. However, Jack Hobbs subsequently disappointed on quick ground when last in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, while he was virtually pulled up when beaten 31 lengths by Enable in the King George in July.
Gosden said: "We will see through the week if we run him or not. That race (Prince of Wales's) didn't do him any good and it was unwise to run him in those temperatures on that ground, whereas the Sheema Classic was a very smart move. We will see how he works in the week, but there's no final decision. I would have thought if he doesn't run, he will not run again and I think a stud career will beckon."
4th October 2017
Cracksman, Harry Angel and Ribchester all remain in contention following the latest forfeit stage for Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot on 21st October 2017. A total of £4.3 million in prize-money will be up for grabs on Britain's richest raceday, which is taking place for the seventh time.
There are 35 individual Group One winners entered across a card that consists of four Group Ones, a Group Two and the richest one-mile handicap in Europe - the Balmoral Handicap Stakes.
Ante-post favourite Cracksman is one of 26 horses to stand their ground for the Qipco Champion Stakes. John Gosden's Great Voltigeur and Prix Niel winner sidestepped a clash with stablemate Enable in last weekend's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but does still have the option of making one final appearance this season in Berkshire.
A stellar cast of 14 Group One winners includes Barney Roy, Highland Reel and Winter. The latter is also in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes and the QEII. Decorated Knight and Poet's Word, the first two home in last month's Irish Champion Stakes, are other likely contenders.
Winter is one of 29 horses in the QEII, a list that is headlined by Richard Fahey's stable star Ribchester. The Godolphin-owned colt is officially rated Europe's best miler and sets a very high standard having won three Group One races this season.
His opponents could include Churchill, Barney Roy and Al Wukair - the first three home in this year's 2000 Guineas. Andrew Balding is set to saddle last week's fast-improving Joel Stakes winner Beat The Bank, as well as Here Comes When, who inflicted a shock defeat on Ribchester in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
"Beat The Bank is an intended runner. Here Comes When is in good form and goes straight to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes," said Balding. "We were thinking of running him (Here Comes When) in Italy (after Goodwood), but decided we were best keeping him fresh for Champions Day."
9th August 2017 Entries Announced
Overall Champions Day has attracted 242 entries including 48 individual Group One victors. There is a total of £4.3million in prize-money up for grabs in the five championship events. Here we take a quick look at some of the main contenders on 21st October.
Superstar filly Enable heads a stellar list of entries for the one mile two furlongs Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot. John Gosden's dual Oaks heroine beat the boys and her elders in scintillating style in last month's King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at the Berkshire circuit and holds engagements in both the Champion Stakes and the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes – The Arc of course has also been talked about for the filly. Other Champion Stakes contenders include last year's winner Almanzor. Jean-Claude Rouget's colt has not yet run this year, but is set for an imminent return. Almanzor's fellow French-trained colt Zarak and Coral-Eclipse one-two Ulysses and Barney Roy are also on the list. The Aiden O’Brien unsurprisingly has a few entered, the Ballydoyle handler's contenders for the 10 furlong showpiece include Winter, Churchill and Highland Reel.
Richard Fahey has confirmed the Qipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over the mile at Ascot in October as his "first choice" target for stable star Ribchester. Having already landed the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot this season, the Godolphin-owned four-year-old was a warm order for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last week, but suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Here Comes When. Aidan O'Brien has given the option to dual 2000 Guineas hero Churchill and dual 1000 Guineas heroine Winter, among others. Saeed bin Suroor has entered Thunder Snow, who was last seen landing the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly.
Journey could bid for back-to-back victories in the one and a half mile Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes. Aidan O'Brien has seven possibles including Classic winners Winter and Seventh Heaven, while German Oaks winner Lacazar has been given the option by trainer Peter Schiergen.
The re-match could be on as Big Orange and Order Of St George could face off again at Ascot with the pair both in the frame for the two mile Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup – the likely going come October in Berkshire is a concern though.
Quiet Reflection is one of the headline names entered for the six furlong Qipco-sponsored British Champions Sprint, with Diamond Jubilee Stakes victor The Tin Man in the mix to defend the title he won last year.