2016 British Champions Day: Fascinating ready to Rock again in Champion Stakes
Fascinating Rock odds to retain Champion crown
Fascinating Rock odds looks value to turn over top-class French colt Almanzor and land back-to-back runnings of the 1m 2f Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot (15:45).
The Dermot Weld trained five-year-old won going away by 1 1/2 lengths from Found in the race 12 months ago and looked better than ever two starts back when slamming the same rival by 3 3/4 lengths in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh.
Fascinating Rock cruised into the lead 2 1/2 furlongs from home and when jockey Pat Smullen asked him to go about his business approaching the last he forged clear to quickly put the race to bed.
It was a performance which oozed class and there is no reason why the son of Fastnet Rock should not confirm the placings with the runner-up, who he now meets on just 1lb worse terms
Tuned to the minute
Although only second last time out in a Group 3 at the same venue following a break, Fascinating Rock traditionally needs a run to put him straight and has clearly been saved for this contest.
He is sure to be tuned to the minute to try and defend his crown and hails from a yard that have a fine record with its runners at the track.
Fascinating Rock also has underfoot conditions to suit and any more rain will only further enhance his chances.
Almanzor the big hope for France
French raider Almanzor is a colt of the highest order and comes into British Champions Day on the back of four straight success.
They include a smooth success in the French Derby at Chantilly and a very impressive 3/4 length victory over Found in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown when last seen in action.
This Jean-Claude Rouget trained three-year-old was awesome in the latter, coming from well off the pace before showing a blistering turn of foot to score with more in hand than the winning margin suggests.
It was a performance which marked Almanzor out as something special and he seems to be improving with every race.
The son of Wootton Bassett is also versatile as regards ground and has a rock solid profile which entitles him to the utmost respect.
Stats against Arc heroine Found
Found gained a deserved big race success when running out an impressive winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly, but the stats are against the Aidan O’Brien trained four-year-old following-up.
The last 14 Arc winners to race again in the same season have all been beaten in their next start.
It’s also 23 years since a winner of the prestigious French contest went on to land another prize in the same season, with that honour falling to All Along, who won the Canadian International two weeks later in 1983.
Those are worrying stats for supporters of Found, who has had just 13 says to recover from her exploits in France.
This daughter of Galileo also has work to do on the book to beat Almanzor and Fascinating Rock, but Found is trained by a genius and seems sure to make her presence felt.
You’ll find recommended race-by-race British Champions Day bets on the Ascot page of Coral news prior to the flat season’s big finale.
Coral’s top tip: Fascinating Rock has plenty going for him and looks worth a wager to retain his crown. French raider Almanzor is on serious upward curve and rates the biggest danger.