The ninth edition of QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday has attracted another sparkling cast of equine stars.
Britain’s richest raceday, which boasts prize-money of well over £4million, has drawn 84 declared runners for its six races.
They feature many of the top sprinters, milers, middle-distance and staying horses in training in Britain, Ireland and beyond.
No fewer than 22 Group 1 winners, with 42 Group 1 wins between them, are set to line up. Here’s our guide to the action.
Paul Mulrennan’s verdict
(all times adjusted to SA time)
2.35pm (BST) QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1) (1200m)
A tricky start to a great day’s racing, but THE TIN MAN was a bit unlucky when he stumbled coming out of the stalls last time and we know how well he is capable of running in this race. I’ve got a soft spot for BRANDO,
one of the Yorkshire challengers, and I can see him running really well at a big price too.
1. The Tin Man
3.10pm (BST) QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2) (3100m)
It’s almost impossible to see how the winning sequence of STRADIVARIUSwon’t be extended to 11 victories here. The combination of his proven stamina and his mighty turn of foot will continue to make him hard to beat, for as long as he wants to keep going out and doing it. If you’re playing the Exacta, take the enormous WITHHOLD to chase him home.
3. Kew Gardens
3.45pm QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1) (2300m)
John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien are battling it out for the trainers’ championship this season and both look to have a very strong hand in this line-up. FLEETING keeps running well and she should be in the mix again, but she doesn’t win very often and I just prefer Dermot Weld’s raider TARNAWA, who won very well at The Curragh last time.
3. Star Catcher
4.20pm Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1) (Sponsored By QIPCO)
(Straight course) (1600m)
Some fascinating contenders in this line-up, none more so MAGNA GRECIA, who has been missing for most of the season. You have to think that he must have been showing Aidan O’Brien good signs at home for him to bring him
back at this late stage of the year, so I’ll give him a chance. CENTURY DREAM is another one to look at closely at a price as he comes back from a break.
1. Magna Grecia
2. Century Dream
3. The Revenant
5.00pm QIPCO Champion Stakes (Group 1) (2000m)
The ground could prove key to this contest, with Ascot having already moved the race to the inner course in search of a better surface. If the weather remains dry, that will definitely help DEIRDRE, who struggles to act on soft ground. But MAGICAL might just have the more adaptability of the pair and she doesn’t seem to know how to run a bad race.
5.40pm Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored By QIPCO) (Straight course) (1600m)
FLAMING SPEAR is a horse to keep an eye on here. He is a slightly enigmatic character, who can take a fierce hold, but this kind of contest could bring out the best in him and a little bit of ease in the ground isn’t a negative. Clon Coulis is drawn on the opposite side of the track but also worth considering.
1. Flaming Spear
2. Clon Coulis