Ascot British Champions Day Preview
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Ascot British Champions Day Preview

The culmination of Britain's Flat season arrives on Saturday afternoon as Ascot stages the high-quality British Champions Day Meeting. Six races, including three at Group 1 level, form an eagerly anticipated card at Ascot from 1.25pm-4.30pm and the afternoon is only set to have excitement heightened as Oisin Murphy and William Buick conclude their battle to be crowned champion jockey this season. The Racing Post brings you their preview and predictions for Ascot's Champions Day card.



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Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2, 2m)

Last year's winner TRUESHAN returns to defend his crown and will do so in confident mood having had more than four-lengths to spare on Stradivarius at Longchamp a fortnight ago in the Prix Du Cadran, with Princess Zoe further back in in fifth. A drop in trip hardly promises to suit the Irish mare here in her quest to get closer, while John & Thady Gosden's superstar stayer has only managed to win this race once in four prior attempts.

Slightly better ground here may assist Frankie Dettori's mount but he will do well to recapture this mantle now, aged seven and seemingly not the monster of old.

By any measurement, Alan King's Trueshan must be the one to beat. He was imperious in this contest last year and, while beaten on return at Chester by Japan and in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle in June, he's been too good in the Goodwood Cup (2m, soft) and at Longchamp (2m4f, soft). Ground conditions should be fine and Hollie Doyle's mount is hard to oppose.

Aidan O'Brien sends over The Mediterranean and the 3YO has plenty more to find, despite his weight-for-age allowance. Joseph O'Brien meanwhile saddles Master Of Reality and Baron Samedi.

James Doyle partners the former, a talented but unreliable performer overall, and of more interest is Dylan McMonagle's Harbour Watch gelding in first-time cheekpieces. He was third in the Irish St Leger last time and, having won the Belmont Gold Cup in the summer over this trip, tackles 2m for only the second time.

William Haggas has had this race in mind for some time with Hamish, closely matched with Trueshan at three, and he warmed up by fending off the talented Hukum in the September Stakes at Kempton last month (form advertised by the latter over 1m4f in a decisive Group 3 win here since).

Selection: Trueshan

Next Best: Hamish


2.00 - Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1, 6f)

A three-way scrap for favouritism is likely to play out between Rohaan, Dragon Symbol and ART POWER. The first-named has the returning Ryan Moore on his side and really does seem to enjoy this C&D (2-2 so far) having won the Wokingham in June. He's so far come up shy at Group 1 level but if it is going to happen, it probably happens at Ascot, and softer conditions won't trouble him.

Denied his Commonwealth Cup in the stewards' room after a gutsy C&D (heavy) effort in June, Dragon Symbol has been confined to a supporting role in four starts since, three of them at Group 1 level. He is another suited by the track on the evidence of that one run and Archie Watson's colt would be a fitting winner on his first return here since losing that big prize. He could also propel Oisin Murphy to the precipice of retaining his jockeys' championship if he obliges.

Art Power was close fourth in this last year behind Glen Shiel on soft ground and ran another stormer in third in the Diamond Jubilee in June. Tim Easterby's 4YO again ran well in Haydock's Sprint Cup last month on quick ground and has easily taken out a Curragh Group 3 (6f, good) since. With a three-week gap from then to now, perhaps this is the day the Dark Angel colt can finally make his incision at the top level.

Blinkers are tried with Glen Shiel, the second string to Archie Watson's bow, but it never really looked like happening for him in a C&D Group 3 a fortnight ago and so he must bounce back to retain this crown.

Old boy Brando is tackling this race for the sixth year in a row, a remarkable achievement, and was denied only a nose 12 month ago at 80/1 behind Glen Shiel. Despite advancing years, he retains plenty dash for Kevin Ryan and an army of supporters.

Vadream won a C&D Group 3 a fortnight ago in determined and resolute style, with Glen Shiel behind in fifth, and the Charlie Fellowes-trained filly is low enough mileage to suggest there could be better to come. She's amongst those with the chance to run a big race at a decent price.

Selection: Art Power

Next Best: Vadream

2.35 - Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1, 1m4f)

A couple of visits to Longchamp have dented the veneer of invincibility that SNOWFALL was fashioning as a 3YO, having won the English, Irish and Yorkshire Oaks in great style on the back of her Musidora success at York in May.

That said, Aidan O'Brien's filly was a good second behind Teona in the Prix Vermeille last month and then sixth of 14 in the Arc itself 13 days ago. If all is well with her in this quick turnaround, the Deep Impact filly holds a sizeable advantage on these rivals on paper. Conditions also seem favourable, with her standout form on good-to-soft and, back amongst her own sex, Ryan Moore's partner is the one to beat.

Albaflora was second at York in August but has four-lengths to make up on Snowfall, while La Joconde was further back in third. Eshaada could finish only seventh on the Knavesmire, but Roger Varian's daughter of Muhaarar is perhaps better than she showed on just her fourth start.

Andrew Balding saddles Invite, already with her third trainer after only six runs, and she began life with this handler by winning a Chester Listed race (1m4½f, good to soft) last month in good style, albeit getting lots of weight from older rivals there.

Her stablemate Tribal Craft was second behind Albaflora over C&D (soft) in May on seasonal comeback and raced mostly over 1m6f since, including a York Group 3 win later in May. Oisin Murphy rides the Lillie Langtry Stakes runner-up and they could harbour place claims.

Selection: Snowfall

Next Best: Tribal Craft


3.10 - Qipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1, 1m)

French raider The Revenant got up late to deny Roseman and win this race a year ago on soft ground, with odds-on favourite Palace Pier held in third having lost a shoe mid-race. That remains the only defeat of his ten-race career.

The Kingman colt justified the hype machine to win the Queen Anne over C&D on fast ground at the Royal Meeting in June and his only start since saw him fending off smart 3YO Poetic Flare in the Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in August despite conceding him 7lb.

He now must give 3lb to up-and-coming starlet Baaeed from the William Haggas team. The Sea The Stars colt has looked imperious thus far, most notably at Glorious Goodwood when he thrashed a Group 3 field in July. He won a Longchamp Group 1 in September but, on a line through Order Of Australia, he'll have to dig deeper to thwart Palace Pier now.

Frankie Dettori's mount has got the more substantial form in the book and, at four, is taken to win this race for the first time. It could be quite a scrap with Baaeed and, in honesty, victory for anything else would be a letdown in what shapes up as the race of the day.

Selection: Palace Pier

Next Best: Baaeed

3.50 - Qipco Champion Stakes (Group 1, 1m2f)

The big guns in the market will be Derby winner Adayar and Mishriff, first and second in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes over 1m4f here in July.

The Godolphin horse was impressive that day as he looked quite keen early on but eventually put his older rival away with something to spare. In one run since, Adayar managed a fair fourth in the Arc, best of the rest behind the trio that fought out the finish. That was a mere 13 days ago and given it was a real will he/won't he decision to come here, this race strikes as being something of an afterthought for the Frankel colt. Victory for Charlie Appleby's star could be invaluable to William Buick in the jockeys' championship.

Mishriff meanwhile was last spotted in August, proving far too good for his Juddmonte International rivals over a similar trip to this one at York for the third Group 1 win of his career, and a first on British soil. David Egan's mount should be favoured re-engaging Adayar over this distance and has a major shot at winning this end of season championship heat.

Addeybb won this race a year ago at the second attempt, having been second-best behind Magical in 2019. William Haggas' gelding is now seven but loves the C&D and he was in front of Mishriff in the Eclipse at Sandown (marginally) in July, though perhaps the latter was guilty of being too free early on that day.

Dubai Honour arrives here on quite an upward curve, having won his last three. Two of those were French Group 2s over this sort of trip including on Arc Weekend this month. A relatively fast turnaround is a concern for William Haggas' second runner.

FOXY TALES won a C&D handicap at the Royal Meeting in June in good style, despite veering across the track late on. The son of Zoffany then finished a head second to Dubai Honour in a Newmarket handicap before taking out a soft-ground Haydock Group 3 in August. He was just foiled since at Newbury (1m3f, good to soft) in another Group 3. First-time blinkers are deployed and he's got a 9lb pull with Dubai Honour since that pervious meeting at HQ. It's asking plenty to see him win this, but at a massive price he could run into the frame for Andrew Balding and Silvestre De Sousa.

Al Aasy is the forgotten horse amongst these. Short-price defeats at Epsom and Newmarket in high summer were followed by a laboured fourth at Newbury last month in that race where Foxes Tales was second. He completes Haggas' trio in this race and needs to bounce back and some to win.

Selection: Foxes Tales

Next Best: Mishriff

4.30 - Qipco Balmoral Handicap (Str, 1m)

He was backed strongly ahead of his handicap bow here over 7f two weeks ago and SUNRAY MAJOR made short work of his challenge under Frankie Dettori. On that evidence, the Gosden-trained son of Dubawi has Group-race potential in the future and looks well ahead of the assessor. As such, a 6lb penalty might not be enough to ground him now. He can see Frankie sign off Champions Day in style.

The likes of Aldaary and Shelir are others carrying penalties in this line-up and they are respected too in current form for William Haggas and David O'Meara respectively.

King Leonidas is a fine second string for John & Thady Gosden with James Doyle on board and has more to offer surely.

Sir Busker likes Ascot but has top-weight under Oisin Murphy, while William Buick partners Matthew Flinders for Ed Walker in what will be the final throw of the dice in a pulsating jockeys' championship. Neither man will truly want to be relying on a win here to sway things.

Nugget has done very little wrong this season, winning 2-4 starts and Richard Hannon's charge showed himself to be still progressing when scoring at Haydock (1m, good to firm) last month from 3lb lower. He has winning form on good-to-soft previously and looks another of the key players with Ryan Moore (figures of 2211 together) returning in the saddle.

Selection: Sunray Major

Next Best: Nugget

V: 1.22.1 All rights reserved. August 2021
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