The finale to a vintage Flat season graces the Ascot turf on Saturday when the ninth Qipco British Champions Day attracts another glittering cast of equine stars.
Since the days of the mighty FRANKEL, Champions Day has grown in stature, to the point where it is now unmissable fare.
I am astonished how strong and competitive the fields are for the six races this year, considering the deterioration of the ground after bucketloads of rain.
The main round course at Ascot remains waterlogged, so its three races have been switched to the inner hurdles track, where the going is described as Good To Soft and Soft in places (not too bad). The other three contests take place on the straight course, where the ground is Heavy (potentially attritional).
Britain’s richest raceday, which boasts prize-money of more than £4 million, has drawn a stellar collection of 84 runners, who will include many of the top sprinters, milers, middle-distance horses and staying horses in training.
No fewer than 22 Group One winners, with 42 Group One triumphs among them, are set to go to post. They include Classic winners MAGNA GRECIA, ANAPURNA, PHOENIX OF SPAIN, STAR CATCHER, CAPRI and KEW GARDENS, all rubbing shoulders with other star names and old favourites such as remarkable stayer STRADIVARIUS, BENBATL, MAGICAL, LORD GLITTERS, CORONET, ADVERTISE, HELLO YOUMZAIN, ONE MASTER and THE TIN MAN.
Even Japan will be represented for the first time thanks to DEIRDRE, who won the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Glorius Goodwood in August, while THE REVENANT will fly the flag for France in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Needless to say, the top trainers, most notably John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien, are well represented too, while the nation’s favourite jockey, Frankie Dettori, will be hoping to round off a memorable season and has six fancied rides.
But will most of the winners come from this mighty roll of honour? Or will the testing ground trigger a series of shocks and surprises?
Regular readers might recall that my attempts to find the winners on Champions Day last year resulted in unmitigated disaster and a financial blank!
Here’s hoping for better luck this time round. My main selections are supplemented by second or third choices, given the competitive nature of the contests. All are to be regarded as potential winners or each/way fancies, depending on your own personal, preferred staking plan. Good Luck!
1.35 (6f Qipco British Champions Sprint, Group One)
ONE MASTER (Advertise, Speak In Colours)
2.10 (2m Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup, Group Two)
KEW GARDENS (Withhold)
2.45 (12f Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares, Group One)
STAR CATCHER (Tarnawa)
3.20 (1m Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Group One)
MAGNA GRECIA (King Of Comedy, Benbatl)
4.00 (10f Qipco Champion Stakes, Group One)
4.40 (1m Balmoral Handicap)
CLON COULIS (Kynren, Glen Shiel)