Culmination of the Flat season today, with so called ‘Champions Day‘ at Ascot, comprising 4 Group 1s and a Group 2 race, together with the statutory impossible handicap to close the card.
With the ground deemed unraceable in Swinley Backside, the distance races have been switched to the inner track, where the going is described as merely ‘soft’ instead of ‘hock deep’.
Action starts at 1.35 with the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes over the straight course and, if there is one horse who will positively love the conditions, it’s William Haggas‘s mare One Master.
This lightly races 5-y-o returns to sprinting this afternoon, two weeks after pocketing the Group 1 Prix De La Foret at Longchamp, under the current big thing Pierre-Charles Boudot. Unsurprisingly, Le Maestro retains the ride and a stiff 6f on heavy ground should be ideal. We start the day, therefore, with an each way bet on this one, at 9-2.
The trifling Group 2, worth only a quarter of a million to the winner, is the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at 2.10 and, in this, we have no intention of taking on the amazing Stradivarius, who goes for his eleventh straight win and is 8-13 so to do. Watch and enjoy.
At 2.45 the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes takes place with a field of 12 headed in the market by Star Catcher at 13-8.
John Gosden‘s 3-y-o looks to have outstanding claims under the Mad Italian and we recommend a decent win bet at the price.
If there is a dark horse in the race (actually she’s a bay, but you know what we mean) it could be Antonia De Vega from the Ralph Beckett yard. Just 5-1 for the Fillies race on this card a year ago, ADV had the misfortune to fracture a pastern during the race and it’s been a long, slow road back. However, her reappearance race at Newbury in June showed all the latent ability still to be there and we suggest an each way bet at 9-1.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at 3.20, run over a mile on the straight course, has a field of 16 and we are interested in two of those, whose best form is when the mud is flying.
We start with the French raider The Revenant, ridden by Pierre-Charles You-Know-Who and fresh from an easy win in a Group 2 at Longchamp just two weeks ago. That made it six wins in a row for this still improving 4-y-o, who can take the step up to Group 1 level in its mighty stride and we recommend a safety first each way bet at 9-2.
Our other fancy, at fancy odds, is Safe Voyage from the ‘unfashionable’ John Quinn yard. This 6-y-o has been a revelation this season, winning a Group 3 at Haddock and staying on into 4th in a French Group 1 last time out. That was over 7f and the step up to a mile today might just unlock some more improvement. At an almost insulting 40-1, we’ll invest a small amount each way.
Last of the Group races is the Qipco Champion Stakes at 4.00 for which the Aiden O’Brien trained Magical is a short 11-8 favourite. We will take her on with the John Gosden trained Coronet, who makes her final racecourse appearance before a happy retirement to the paddocks.
It’s not hard to figure out that Mr Gosden has meticulously planned a blaze of glory farewell and we should take the hint at 7-2.
The Balmoral Handicap at 4.40 brings proceedings to an end and we will aim three darts at this, starting with AO’Bs representative Amadeo Modigliani. Very lightly raced and making handicap debut, this horse is impossible to assess and on the basis that the handicapper has little chance of getting it right, we recommend a ‘cover’ win bet at 7-2.
Our other two are dear old Escobar (2nd last year) and the Archie Watson trained, ex-French jobbie Glen Shiel, which are available at 18-1 and 20-1 respectively.
We live in hope.
One Master 1.35 Ascot 1.5pts e/w @ 9-2 (4 places)
Star Catcher 2.45 Ascot 4pts win @ 13-8
Antonio De Vega 2.45 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 9-1
The Revenant 3.20 Ascot 2pts e/w @ 9-2 (4 places)
Safe Voyage 3.20 Ascot 0.5pts e/w @ 40-1 (4 places)
Coronet 4.00 Ascot 4pts win @ 7-2
Amedeo Modigliani 4.40 Ascot 2pts win @ 7-2
Escobar 4.40 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 18-1 (6 places Skybet, Paddy Power)
Glen Shiel 4.40 Ascot 1pt e/w @ 20-1 (6 places Skybet, Paddy Power)