Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes tips – Ante-post preview of Saturday’s first Group One race at Ascot
Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot this weekend promises to be a top-class affair with four Group Ones going to post on the card. We look over the first of them and give our British Champions Sprint Stakes tips.
One of the biggest single days in the horse racing calendar goes to post on Saturday at Ascot with the Qipco British Champions Festival which features four Group One races on the six-race card.
The first of those Group Ones to get underway is the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes which goes to post as the second race of the afternoon at 1.55pm and we’ve taken a look at the competitive six furlongs dash with our ante-post preview highlighting some of the key runners.
We’ve also picked out our Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes tips and our best bet for Saturday’s first Group One contest on an unmissable afternoon of racing action.
BRITISH CHAMPIONS SPRINT STAKES TIPS – ANTE-POST ASCOT GROUP ONE PREVIEW
DREAM OF DREAMS
Has long threatened to be a top-class sprinter but didn’t win as often as one of his ability should throughout his career although most recent performances since being gelded suggest he’s now reaching the peak of his powers.
A Listed winner last term and second to Blue Point in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, he beat only one home in this race twelve months ago but has returned in top form, building on his very good second at this venue in this season’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes behind Hello Youmzain to win both starts since which includes the Haydock Sprint Cup from Glen Shiel.
Sir Michael Stoute’s charge is afforded the utmost respect once again as he bids for his hat-trick but there remains a suspicion he’ll be better served by a quicker surface despite his win last time coming in softer ground.
High-class and consistent sort who has largely been campaigned over further by trainer William Haggas; but he showed he can handle sprint trips when getting to within one length of Donjuan Triumphant in this contest twelve months ago.
Possibly in need of the run on the better ground at this venue in June when sixth in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, he wasn’t disgraced in finishing a close fourth behind Nazeef in the Falmouth Stakes before getting off the mark himself for the campaign with a Group Three win at Goodwood where the ground would have been plenty quick enough for him.
Beaten on subsequent outings at York and Doncaster although only beaten a head on the latter occasion he lowered the colours of Earthlight in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp earlier in the month and he’s interesting back at six furlongs with his optimum ground conditions again while French rider Pierre Charles Boudot takes the reins and enjoys a good record on the Fastnet Rock mare with three wins.
Lightly-raced sprinter who is very much on the up this season and the Mayson gelding stepped up from his win in last season’s Portland Handicap to win at the first time of asking this term with a defeat of Breathtaking Look to land the Group Three Abernant Stakes.
Roger Teal’s charge found further improvement thrust into Group One company where he took the July Cup at the expense of Sceptical where the likes of Golden Horde, Hello Youmzain and Brando were all further behind.
Likely to have better still to come he has to prove he can match that level and needs to back up that performance on much softer ground than he’s contested on to date; but assuming the conditions don’t catch him out then he’s entitled to run another big race and no surprise to see him in the mix.
Has proven himself a progressive sprinter this term, winning three times which include the Group Three Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh to go with earlier successes on the all-weather and Archie Watson’s charge took a big forward step when chasing home Dream Of Dreams at Haydock when last seen.
The Pivotal gelding showed softer ground to again be no concern in that outing and he’s run some of his best races on turf when the mud has been flying. But he has to back up that performance given a few of the principals perhaps didn’t give their true running and he might have been flattered by his eventual finishing position.
He could struggle to confirm the form of that Haydock run if others run up to their best but he’s respected nonetheless on the back of that effort although likely needs more.
Ed Walker’s charge is unbeaten in three starts, getting off the mark on debut at Lingfield before winning a Doncaster novices’ event and latterly lowered the colours of the useful Dakota Gold when last seen winning a Listed contest at York with victory in the Garrowby Stakes.
The Dutch Art gelding needs to find another jolt of improvement as he steps up considerably in class once more, but he’s going the right way and may well have more to come although this is a big jump into a Group One.
Unproven on softer ground he should handle conditions though given his breeding and if improving again as anticipated then he can post a big run although he does have a bit to find on bare form.
One of two runners in the race carrying the King Power blue and white silks, Tim Easterby’s charge has progressed really well this term winning his first three starts which include here over the minimum trip during Royal Ascot when taking the Palace Of Holyroodhouse Handicap from Keep Busy.
He stepped up on that peformance to make his mark in a Group Three at Naas, beating Group One winner Millisle before running a creditable sixth in the Nunthorpe Stakes behind Battaash and he ran fourth to Dream Of Dreams in the recent Haydock Sprint Cup.
That was a solid effort where he forced the pace and he only gave way late in the final furlong; but he’s worse off at the weights with both the winner and runner-up and he likely needs to improve again to take this although he can give a good account.
The second of the King Power runners, Andrew Balding’s charge has been progressive this term, finishing fourth or better on all starts since returning and the Dark Angel colt has won his last three outings which includes a Newmarket Group Two eight days ago.
He appeared to need every yard of that seven furlongs however and he’s also won over one mile so it remains to be seen how he’ll cope dropping back to sprinting for the first time in two years and others might have too much speed for him although a strongly-run race would help.
LOPE Y FERNANDEZ
Aidan O’Brien’s charge isn’t a certain runner but he comes into this race winless for the campaign although he has run some solid races in defeat including finishing a close third to Siskin in the Irish 2000 Guineas and making the frame in consecutive Group One contests in France although he ran flat in soft ground behind Dream Of Dreams at Haydock when last seen.
The Lope De Vega colt was beaten around four lengths on that occasion where he appeared not to handle the deeper ground and conditions again are likely to prove not to his liking.
The form of his earlier runs in France would give him chances but underfoot conditions temper enthusiasm and he would make more appeal if given a sounder surface.
MAKE A CHALLENGE
Has proven progressive in Ireland winning four times this term which includes a pair of Listed contests and Denis Hogan’s charge found only A’Ali too strong in a Group Two contest at the Curragh.
The Invincible Spirit gelding has failed to make his mark at this level in his last two outings back at the Curragh and latterly at Longchamp in the Prix de l’Abbaye during the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Weekend where he could only finish eighth although he perhaps wasn’t helped by the draw.
Soft ground is fine and he’s won over further than six furlongs in the past but he might not be good enough at this top level.
A three-time winner last campaign, scoring his last success over course and distance in soft ground with a defeat of last year’s winner of this race Donjuan Triumphant in the Bengough Stakes although Roger Varian’s charge failed to back up that run in this race where he finished down the field.
Heavy ground on that occasion possibly didn’t suit and he might have been a victim of helping force the pace given the way he weakened out of contention. He’s not been seen out since which is a slight concern for the Shamardal gelding although he did win first time up last campaign.
Effective on soft ground he can bounce back and as a four-time course winner he’s respected if returning at his best although he does look to have something to find on form.
THE TIN MAN
A Group One winner here when at the peak of his powers but while James Fanshawe’s charge is winless in ten starts he has shown he can still mix it at a good level for all his powers might be on the decline now.
His last win came when beating Brando in the 2018 Haydock Sprint Cup, but this race has seen him flounder on more than one occasion with lesser runs in each of the last two renewals and his reappearance this term in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes saw him finish seventh.
The Equiano gelding has finished runner-up in two of his three subsequent outings in Group Three company either side of finishing sixth at Haydock behind Dream Of Dreams and he’s likely to be vulnerable again although he handles these conditions well.
He’d be a popular winner but he’s not as good as he was nowadays and others hold stronger claims than the eight-year old.
QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS SPRINT STAKES TIPS – ANTE-POST VERDICT
A competitive first Group One on Saturday’s racecard and it could be worth siding with ONE MASTER who drops back to sprinting having won over seven furlongs at Lonchamp earlier in the month and William Haggas’ charge is an interesting contender over this shorter trip.
The Fastnet Rock mare was arguably unlucky not to win this prize twelve months ago where she met with trouble in running but only went down by one length; but she can go one place better here and she turned in a top quality peformance to win the recent Prix de la Foret in heavy ground where she beat Earthlight by a neck.
At her best when the mud is flying she’ll get a good pace to aim at and proven winning form over further will prove an advantage should this become a stamina test while top French rider Pierre-Charles Boudot gets on well with the mare and the pair can combine for further Group One success.