Ascot British Champion’s Day
1:20 – Long Distance Cup
Good news that Stradivarius stays in training next year, and he is the obvious starting point to regain the prize he won two years ago before going down narrowly to Kew Gardens last year. You could argue that at 6/5 he has more than a 45% chance of winning, but he comes here just two weeks after a hard race, so I won’t be backing him. I would prefer to take a chance on a proven group one performer with the potential for improvement stepping up in trip and that leads me to Broome, Dawn Patrol and Sovereign. Ryan Moore often seems to pick the wrong one (assumes he get to choose) and my preference is for Broome (14/1), who ran a blinder in last year’s Derby (having slammed Sovereign). He has not been seen since the Jockey Club Stakes and come here fresh. At a massive price (40/1+) Max Vega could run a big race.
1:55 Sprint Stakes
A repeat of his last two races sees Dream Of Dreams head and shoulders above anything else in that, but he does have a tendency to thrown in the odd shocker and two of those have been in previous renewals of this. I’d rather look elsewhere than back him at 2/1. Starman (10/1) steps up significantly in class, but he is a real improver, the way he dismissed Dakota Gold last time out was impressive enough before that one went on to boost the form. The only reasons I am not putting him up for a proper bet is that he is unproven on soft ground and is not an each-way price. This will be the fifth time that Brando (66/1) has run in the race and he’s finished in the first six on the other four occasions. He may be worth a bet in novelty markets e.g. top 4/5 finish.
2:30 Fillies And Mares
Probably the most open of the group races with Magical going for the Champion. Wonderful Tonight was impressive in France, but this is a quick turnaround and I think the Gosden pair coming here as fresh horses may spring a surprise. Mehdaayih has so far fallen just a bit short of group one class, but she has the potential to win at the top level. The going is a concern, and I’m not sure whether 1m 4f will be her best trip. Stablemate Frankly Darling is also looking to bounce back after defeats in the Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks, if you forgive her York run, she is a big price at 18/1.
3:05 Queen Elizabeth ll Stakes
At this stage of the season I would always be looking to take on an 8/11 fav in what should be a competitive race, but I can see no chinks in the armour of horse-to-follow Palace Pier and I think he just wins.
3:40 Qipco Champion Stakes
I do think that Magical hasn’t had the credit her consistency deserves and if she hadn’t been born in the same era as Enable she would have been…well…Enable. I do not know how she is rated below Addeybb, on the basis of him scooping up fake group ones in Australia since she beat him a year ago. However, now I am going to contradict myself and say that I just don’t want to back her at 15/8 against so many other potential winners and would probably prefer odds-on that she doesn’t win, with the likes of Mishriff, Lord North and Serpentine running for me.
4:15 Balmoral Handicap
This is always a cracking handicap; and has a solid favourite with Raeeq who could put the icing on the cake of what has been a fantastic season for Shadwell. I doubt that I could back anything at 5/1 in such a competitive race with unknowns about the going, pace and draw. Even though he is officially 5lbs well-in and has won on soft ground. I can see the Cambridgeshire form being significant, particularly with Tempus and Bell Rock, but the former is not an each-way price at 8/1 and the latter has questions to answer in testing conditions. Njord could go well, but comes her off the back of two poor efforts and is only 10/1. Raising Sand usually runs well here when the ground is testing, but a mark of 107 is unlikely to give him a winning chance. In summary, Raeeq and Tempus are the two I’m most interested in, but at around 5/2 combined I will have to decline. I am surprised that Solid Stone is 33/1, he won nicely for us earlier in the season, and he would be my pick as an outsider with an each-way chance with 5 places (Power).