Climax of the British Flat racing season takes place this afternoon with Champions Day at Ascot and Storm Brian (where do they get these names from?) is threatening to play havoc with the proceedings.
With the going already officially soft and plenty more wet stuff to come, runners will also have to contend with a strong and gusty headwind when turning into the straight.
The Group races which make up 5/6ths of the card all have fairly short-priced favourites, which, in normal circs, would be difficult to oppose, but today ain’t normal, people, so our policy is to look for value at a price.
Most valuable event takes place at 3.50 with the Qipco Champion Stakes, over 10 furlongs, which has just a mere £1,300,000 in guaranteed prize money.
Favourite for this is John Gosden’s 3-y-o son of Frankel, Cracksman, which is trading at 2-1, on the strength of his two recent Group 2 victories, both over 12 furlongs. There is no doubt that a horse that stays further than the race’s trip will benefit under the conditions and the horse also acts well in soft. However, this horse has been beaten in both the Group 1s he has contested and that may well be the case again today.
Our main fancy in this is Sir Michael’s Poet’s Word, available at the each way price of 7-1. This 4-y-o won the Group 3 Glorious Stakes at, er, Goodwood before running out of his skin to be second in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes, a Group 1 over today’s trip. Home reports have him as taking further steps forward and he could go close under Signor Atzeni.
We also suggest a win bet on the French-trained Brametot, winner of the French Guineas and Derby, before suffering a minor back problem, happily now resolved. A fifth in L’Arc over the wrong trip showed him on the comeback trail and he should be spot on today. 5-1 is generally available.
The card kicks off with the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at 1.25, a Group 2 over 2 long miles and the A O’B trained Order Of St George is very short at 5-6 and represents little value.
We recommend an each way bet at 12-1 on Desert Skyline, an improving 3-y-o who should relish the conditions. Having finished behind Stradivarious in the Goodwood Cup, DS took the Doncaster version in tremendous style, beating the horse that won today’s race last year, a horse which regular readers will know I’m not allowed to name.
There is every chance that Desert Skyline can reverse the previous form and at least make the frame under SDS.
Speedsters take centre stage at 2.00 in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes and everyone’s favourite horse, Harry Angel, is the favourite at 11-8. Could win, yes, but value? – No.
Back the mud-loving Quiet Reflection, who came right back to her very best last time out, as the value alternative, each way at 13-2.
At 2.40, the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes is run and in a field of just 10, the French trained Bateel is the jolly at 2-1.
This time we think that’s a fair price, with her last-time-out Group 1 victory over today’s re-opposers Journey and Left Hand a stunning piece of form. A win bet is suggested.
Also, just have a bit each way on The Juliet Rose, also from France at a tasty 20-1.
At 3.15 we get a change of title with the Queen Elizabeth ll Stakes, which is for the milers and the admirably consistent Ribchester heads the market at 2-1. Already a winner of three Group 1s this season, he may prevail but a better value alternative may be to back yet another French trained entry Al Wukair e/w at 13-2.
Monsieur Fabre knows the ‘moment de la journee’ in these sort of races and this 3-y-o has been aimed at this contest since taking the Jacques de Marois at Deauville in August. The hint should be taken.
That just leaves the concluding handicap at 4.30, worth a trifling £155,625 to the winner and, of the three participants who are lumps ahead of the handicapper, we much prefer Lord Glitters, who should be backed at 7-2 to give the North a winner.
Poet’s Word 3.50 Ascot e/w @ 7-1
Brametot 3.50 Ascot win @ 5-1
Desert Skyline 1.25 Ascot e/w @ 12-1
Quiet Reflection 2.00 Ascot e/w @ 13-2
Bateel 2.40 Ascot win @ 2-1
The Juliet Rose 2.40 Ascot e/w @ 20-1
Al Wukair 3.15 Ascot e/w @ 13-2
Lord Glitters 4.30 Ascot win @ 7-2