QIPCO British Champions Day 2019 Ascot
QIPCO British Champions Day 2019 Ante-Post Portfolio
Qipco British Champions
Sprint Stakes: One Master 6-1
A great day as usual, despite the British weather and I show a profit of +3.25 to Level Stakes on the day.
QIPCO British Champions Day 2019 Ascot The Tips
The Ultimate Raceday, as the marketing guys sell it, this Saturday is the ninth QIPCO British Champions Day. Prize money across the six-race card is £4.2m. The meeting is, of course, the culmination of the season-long QIPCO British Champions Series and the first five races on the card are described as the end-of-season championships. It’s not quite that definitive, the likes of Enable and her Arc nemesis Waldgeist won’t be here, there is no Battaash or the now retired Blue Point or Crystal Ocean to name but five of the current top ten rated horses in the LONGINES rankings, but there are some good’uns due to run nonetheless. Before racing Oisin Murphy will be crowned Champion Flat Jockey for 2019 in the Parade Ring at around 1pm.
The potential going has again been the major talking point in the build-up with some downpours last weekend and through the week. Do not forget, some races will be run over slightly different distances with the inner-course being used this year due to the amount of rain we have had. The Long Distance Cup will now be run over 1m7f 127yds, a decrease of 82 yards, and the Fillies & Mares will be over 1m3f 133yds, a decrease of 78 yards. The big one remains 1m2f. Fingers crossed the forecast is for nor rain this evening and sunny intervals and a gentle breeze on the day. They will race on ground described on Friday evening as heavy on the straight course with the inner course being good to soft, soft in places. My fancies for the big day follow, all odds quoted are naturally BPG.
They get underway at 1.35 with the 6f Group One Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes. One Master has been on my mind for this for a few days, albeit over a trip that is perhaps shorter than ideal. I tipped her when winning the 7f G.1 Prix de la Foret over Arc weekend and talking after that win in France trainer William Haggas said “She needs softer ground so she will go to Ascot for the British Champions Sprint in two weeks' time and that will be it for the season”. She is really a 7f specialist but won’t mind soft going and on what is a stiff six furlongs anyway I think she should prove too strong for the speedsters on going most of them will not relish plus she gets the mare allowance that may prove crucial. In a Racing Post video in the build-up the trainer said “She loves soft ground so if it rains she should enjoy the ground and hopefully it will be a stamina test and she will be there at the end.” I hope so as well as I took 6-1 Monday. Advertise won the G.1 Commonwealth Cup on good-soft at the Royal meeting but the vast majority of his form is on firmer though his trainer appears unconcerned "We've been able to try him at home with good cut in the ground and, from what I see of him, I think he will quite enjoy it" Martyn Meade told the Racing Post. Hello Youmzain is one that doesn’t mind getting his toe in but he has a couple of lengths to make up on Advertise from that June race. The Tin Man aint getting any younger but is perhaps feared most in the conditions. Make A Challenge was rated 66 back in April and would be a fairytale story if winning but I can’t see a happy ending here.
At 2.10 we are on the ‘Inner-track’ jolly for the Group Two two-mile Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup. It is no great surprise Stradivarius is jolly for this but if he has an Achilles heel, and I am not sure he does, but if he does going as soft as this might be it. The Champs participation even now hinges on a course walk Saturday morning, John Gosden said on Monday “the most important thing I can do is see how it is and walk the track on Saturday morning, as I did last year, and make a final decision." He can’t be backed at the price, generally 1-2, so I am taking him on, perhaps more in hope than anger. Aidan O’Brien is staging a three-pronged assault with Capri, Kew Gardens and South Pacific. My old mate Kew Gardens has had a case of always the bridesmaid never the bride this season with three seconds against his name. I thought he might be the Ballydoyle Cup horse this year and it will be interesting to see how he goes in a proper stamina test such as this, I am convinced he has a good staying prize in him, Trainer Aidan O’Brien did say in the build-up “He seems to be in good form and we’ve always thought he would get two miles no problem.” Talking earlier this week Donnacha O’Brien, who rides with Ryan Moore riding Ten Sovereigns in The Everest at Randwick in Australia, was pretty upbeat about his chances. “Stradivarius has shown he’s the dominant stayer in Europe – but the only one that could possibly give him something to think about would be Kew Gardens, I suppose,” he said. “He has very high class form over a mile and a half and a mile and six furlongs, and he ran a very good race in the Irish Leger off a very slow pace. He has the potential to put it up to Stradivarius, especially with the ground looking like it’s going to be very soft. Hopefully he’s got a big chance, because he could even improve for his run at the Curragh, while Stradivarius has had a hard summer. Those staying races take it out of you, even though he’s been winning them easy.” I have the 9-2 against the jolly, it might be the beginning of a proper rivalry in the staying ranks.
At 2.45 they line-up for the Group One Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes over 1m4f; this is another one of the races that’s distance is slightly changed as they race on the inner track. When you looked at the entries John Gosden held just about all the Aces for this one with the likes of Star Catcher, Anapurna, Coronet, Lah Ti Dar etc all housed down at Clarehaven Stables. Star Catcher was one I mentioned earlier in the week and I am a fan of the filly, has won for me more than once this year, and a major plus here is she has form on soft. Reportedly the filly has been going well on the gallops at HQ, my spies tell me she was best out of her and Coronet (more on her later) twice last week. She is the pick of Dettori who, love or hate him, is in fine form and I am on at 13-8 as I strongly fancy the daughter of Sea The Stars to add a third Group One to her CV. Stablemate Anapurna is an obvious threat and William Buick is a pretty decent sub as Jockey’s go! Will her exertions over 1m6f winning the G.1 Prix de Royallieu Arc weekend have taken a bit of the edge off her though? Antonia De Vega is the possible improver after only four career starts.
It is the 1m Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at 3.20 on the straight course, a race that has really been affected by the weather. Benbatl was top of my shortlist for this, he is the class act as far as I am concerned and rated 6lb clear of the opposition, but the downpours have been a real concern. Talking at the confirmation stage earlier this week trainer Saeed Bin Suroor was clearly wary of conditions. “I’d love for the ground to be good to soft, but they are saying it is heavy and he will not like that,” said Bin Suroor. “He ran at Haydock on it once and he didn’t like it at all. That was two years ago. The stiff mile is perfect for him, but he would love the ground to be good to soft. We’ll check the ground on the day of the race, but more than likely he will run. We just hope the ground isn’t heavy – nobody really wants that for a Group One.” He strode clear of Bin Battuta (runs in the Long Distance Cup) in a gallop on the Limekilns last Saturday I am told showing he remains in great heart since his emphatic victory in the G.2 Joel stakes. I really wish it had dried up but it aint so I just need to hope he is so much better than the rest his class sees him through. At 7-1 I am on and crossing my fingers for a drying evening and morning! French raider The Revenant was a major mover in the betting last weekend with the heavy underfoot conditions expected. He completed his biggest win to date taking the mile G.2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein Arc weekend but I am not convinced that was the best Group Two ever and this is a step-up again. 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia gets the 3lb weight-for-age but has been off the track since disappointing in the Irish version back in May. He could arrive fresh as a daisy and open to improvement or he might be ring rusty; there hasn’t been bundles of cash for him in the market. Another possible concern is he has never been tried on ground this soft. King Of Change, second to Magna Grecia in the Newmarket Guineas, runs for Richard Hannon having won the Listed Fortune Stakes last time. Course specialist Lord Glitters represents David O’Meara. The grey won the Queen Anne at the Royal meeting back in June but could only manage sixth in this last year and a place looks his best hope.
The main event the Group One 1m2f Qipco Champion Stakes is due off at 4.00. Unsurprisingly mudlark Addeybb was supported for this even though he is yet to win at the top level; he has actually been well beaten on both tries including the mile Queen Elizabeth II Stakes here last year on soft. Talking in the video mentioned above Haggas said himself he isn’t perhaps Group One class but again mentioned how he loves the soft. Supporters probably didn’t want the change to the inner track and the better ground, as James Doyle said this week "Addeybb likes the ground almost unraceable.” Magical has also received plenty of support during the build-up and she of course won the Fillies & Mares last year on soft. She doesn’t have Enable to deal with here which must be a relief to the Lads at Ballydoyle. She arrives after a busy campaign, fifth in the Arc a fortnight ago, and I think her schedule might be taking its toll now. The record of horses that run in the Arc and then here is terrible and it should also be remembered Aidan O’Brien has never won this race – hard to believe – but his record is truly abysmal in this. Deirdre is one I have talked of earlier this season and I think her run behind Magical in the Irish version was certainly better than the bare form, finished fourth beaten three lengths, suggests. She had no room at all behind a wall of horses over two out and came home perhaps strongest of all when she got some daylight, Murphy having to take her to the outside. The switch to the inner track and better surface certainly enhances her chances but it’s still softer than anything she has ever won on. The one I keep coming back to is the grey mare Coronet as she arrives off the back of two Group One wins one on heavy (trainer John Gosden was worried it’d be too soft before hand) in the Prix Jean Romanet and the other good-soft in the Grand Prix De Saint-cloud the form of which has worked out well those behind winning a Group One and a couple of Group Two’s since. She would appear as well as ever after a light campaign this season. She won the G.2 Ribblesdale here in 2017 and has placed up each time she has run at the track since; was only a length behind Magical in the Fillies & Mares last year giving her 6lb and to my eyes being asked to go to work too late by Peslier being left with to much to do. They race off levels here and she has that man Dettori onboard this time. On paper she has to improve but this is a funny year and far from a vintage renewal and unlike a few of the market principals she arrives fresh after a two month break. I have taken a chance at 4-1.
Thursday 17th October: Firstly weather watch. The going remains heavy on the straight course with the inner flat course good to soft, soft in places. The forecast today is for light showers and a gentle breeze. Frankie Dettori has a pretty good book of rides for Saturday at Ascot, including three of the ante-post favourites on Champions Day in the shape of Stradivarius, Star Catcher and Advertise. A lot of punters follow the little showman blindly on days like this, especially at Ascot, with multiple bets galore being placed and the Bookies most be fearing the 'Frankie factor'. A number of the big firms came under fire this summer when refusing to accept multiple bets on Dettori's mounts but at this stage they are all accepting multiples for Champions Day. Spokesman for Sky Bet Michael Shinners said: "Frankie looks to have a fabulous book of rides for Champions Day and, after a brilliant season, is bound to be popular. Sky Bet will be offering the multiple on all of Frankie's rides at Ascot on Saturday and will monitor the liabilities as we always do." It aint my sort of bet but for those that like a Yankee they might accept the bet but you can be sure every mount he is due to ride will be half-a-point or so shorter than it should be!16th October: It has been announced Ascot will use its inner hurdles track for Saturday's Qipco British Champions Day card, with the round course still waterlogged in places.
Commenting on the change, clerk of the course Chris Stickels said: "In the interests of all involved we wanted some clarity on the matter. There wasn't sufficient improvement in the round course to be confident and the forecast is unsettled. We thought it was the sensible move, having discussed it with the racecourse inspectorate and now the information is out there and we can move on." Reportedly the inner course is in good shape and Stickels added: "The soft ground on the inner course is around Swinley Bottom, the same place as would be softest on the round course. At the moment it's a mixture of good to soft and soft and it's taking the rain very well. We're delighted with it, it hasn't been raced on since March and doesn't have the same kind of wear. If it wasn't raining now we'd be needing to water it in advance of jumping."15th October: Ascot missed the rain overnight meaning that on Tuesday morning the going remains heavy throughout, with part of the round course waterlogged. In regards to the recent rain Clerk of the Course Charles Stickels said "We had a total of 10mm yesterday, we are still heavy on the straight track and heavy, waterlogged in places, on the outer round track. On the inner track it’s a mixture of good to soft and soft." A decision is due, probably Wednesday, as to whether the three Qipco Champions Day races scheduled for the round course are to be moved to the inner hurdles track.
14th October: One Master has been backed for the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes. It aint her ideal trip, she is a bit of a seven furlong specialist, but she likes the soft and on this stiff six furlong strip I think she can out stay the rest.