1:25 Ascot - Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2) Cl1 2m CH4
The form of Order Of St George’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe third over an inadequate trip earlier in the month should see Aidan O’Brien’s charge a relatively warm order back over this longer distance.
However, having had a hard race at Chantilly this could well come plenty soon enough for the son of Galileo, and FORGOTTEN RULES
) could reclaim the stayers’ crown he won in 2014 when storming to success in this contest.
The classy stayer lost his crown twelve months on, but he endured a luckless passage all the way up the straight and Pat Smullen couldn’t get the Nayef gelding into any daylight until the race was all but over. He’s better than he showed there and although absent after that run until making his return at the Curragh, he can regain his title here.
That return saw him just outstayed on heavy ground behind Twilight Payment in a Listed race, but he was entitled to have needed the run and should be spot on for this now. While softer ground would be an added plus, he does go on the likely quicker conditions; with Dermot Weld winning two of the last five renewals of this race, he has to be feared and no surprise if he were to build on his comeback run to go close in this contest.
Forgotten Rules can recapture his stayers' crown in Saturday's British Champions Day opener.
2:00 Ascot - Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1) Cl1 6f CH4
This contest lost a little of its star billing when Henry Candy took out Limato on account of the ground; but punters are still in for a mouth-watering contest between some crack sprinters.
) however is taken to continue on his rapid upward ascent despite the presence of the likes of Mecca’s Angel and Quiet Reflection in opposition.
John Gosden’s charge was a hugely progressive juvenile, working his way up to dual-Group One successes last term, which included a comfortable win in the Middle Park Stakes; and the Invincible Spirit colt made an encouraging comeback to readily hold off Mehronissa over this course and distance in the Group Three Bengough Stakes earlier in the month.
Reportedly not fully fit when turned out for that contest, he should be spot on now with that run under his belt; and with conditions underfoot no issue, he can expected to build on that outing. While this represents his toughest test to date, he looked something out of the ordinary last term when racking up a five-win sequence, and he could be even better this time around.
Assuming this run doesn’t come too soon after such a lengthy absence, and with the Gosden yard in good form, he is likely to still have further progression in him and he can collect another Group One prize.
Shalaa can add the Champions Sprint Stakes to his Group One haul.
2:35 Ascot - British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1) Cl1 1m4f CH4
It is hard to ignore the claims of Irish duo Seventh Heaven and Zhukova, but there may be some value in chancing Epsom Oaks runner-up ARCHITECTURE
) to run a big race.
Hugo Palmer’s Zoffany filly has filled that position not only at Epsom, but also at the Curragh in the Irish equivalent as well as at Dusseldorf when sent to Germany to contest the German Oaks back in August.
The furlong lesser trip at the German track surely didn’t suit her, but she made good late ground to go down only by two lengths behind Serienholde and she should appreciate the return to this longer distance.
This ground will pose no issue, and while she certainly has to step up on what she has shown thus far, she didn’t finish far behind either Minding at Epsom or Seventh Heaven at the Curragh; she could well have further improvement to come, and she probably wouldn’t need to find a great deal to be involved here.
Given the huge disparity in prices between Seventh Heaven and Hugo Palmer’s charge – albeit Aidan O’Brien’s charge has won again since – she could be overpriced in this contest, and she boasts solid claims of making the frame at a big price.
Triple-Oaks runner-up Architecture can run a big race in the Fillies' & Mares' Stakes to reward each-way backers.
3:10 Ascot - Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1) (Sponsored by Qipco) Cl1 1m CH4
) is taken to come out on top in a clash of the Classic winners that also includes 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold, and Irish 2000 Guineas champion Awtaad, as well as recent Group One winner Ribchester.
Aidan O’Brien’s charge lost nothing in defeat behind Almanzor and stablemate Found when finishing third to that pair at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Stakes.
Prior to that defeat, the Galileo filly had posted wins in four of her five previous starts, winning the 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks, and losing out narrowly to Jet Setting in the Irish 1000 Guineas.
Wins at the Curragh in the Pretty Polly Stakes, and at Goodwood in the Nassau Stakes prior to her Irish Champion Stakes run arguably sets a solid standard compared to her rivals; and in receipt of weight from all but Jet Setting in this contest, she could prove a tough nut to crack despite dropping back to one mile for this contest.
This is certainly no penalty kick, but at her best she should take plenty of beating and she can resume winning ways here.
Minding (left) can win the QEII Stakes.
3:45 Ascot - Qipco Champion Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) (Group 1) Cl1 1m2f CH4
(6/4, William Hill
) was an impressive winner despite the relatively short margin of victory when beating the likes of Found, Minding and New Bay in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last month, taking his win-tally to four from five this term which includes success in the Prix Du Jockey Club at Chantilly in June.
Jean-Claude Rouget’s Wooton Bassett colt might have contested the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, especially in the enforced absence of La Cressonniere from the race; however, the French trainer stood firm against that idea and has had this race as the target since the horse’s Irish success.
That Leopardstown win was all the more creditable as he was kept wide throughout and delivered with impeccable timing by Christophe Soumillon to challenge entering the final furlong. He looked to win a shade cosily, scoring by three-parts of a length over Found, who was conceding the French raider 4lbs but arguably got first run on the French challenger.
Now 2lbs worse off at the weights with Aidan O’Brien’s charge, he nevertheless arrives much fresher than Found, having had a break since those exertions; and while the latter is expected to run Rouget’s horse close once more, there is a possibility that Found may go to the well once too often just thirteen days after her Arc success.
With French-trained runners having a fair record in this contest, winning three of the last ten renewals, Aidan O’Brien yet to win the race and so Jean-Claude Rouget’s charge is taken to add to his win tally.
Almanzor can add to his Group One tally by capturing the Champion Stakes.
4:25 Ascot - Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored by Qipco) Cl2 1m CH4
British Champions Day rounds off with a hugely competitive handicap contest in which 2015 Cambridgeshire winner THIRD TIME LUCKY
) is taken to resume winning ways given he has looked in recent starts as if he is working his way back to form.
Richard Fahey’s charge looked in need of the run behind Always Smile at York on his return to action in May in the Hambleton Stakes, and he couldn’t have been right at Goodwood on his next start in the Betfred Mile where he failed to beat a rival home behind a handicap blot.
He has since posted much better efforts behind Firmament at York, and in defence of his Cambridgeshire title when fourth to Spark Plug, beaten just over four lengths. He didn’t get the clearest of runs there, and this slightly softer ground may help him take another forward step.
While 1lb higher following his Newmarket run, the Clodovil gelding looks to be coming back onto the boil, and drawn high from the 21 stall is another plus; considerably better at the weights with York conquerer Firmament, who has continued in form, he could be worth chancing that another big run is in the pipeline, and arriving fresher than most with much less seasonal mileage under his belt he can get involved.
Third Time Lucky (furthest) can resume winning ways in the Balmoral Handicap.
BRITISH CHAMPIONS DAY SELECTIONS – ASCOT CHANNEL 4 RACING TIPS