British Champions Day: Who are the main contenders at Ascot?
Betting preview for Champions Day
The crème de la crème of racing will be at Ascot on Saturday as the European flat season draws to a close with British Champions Day.
Stars including Stradivarius, Kew Gardens, Roaring Lion and Cracksman will all be on show in Berkshire. But what is the market saying? And what are the big stories?
We’ve previewed the ante-post betting for each of the big races.
Long Distance Cup
Stradivarius is the odds-on hotpot to land the Long Distance Cup – and rightly so. John Gosden’s superstar hoovered up the £1m Stayers’ Bonus at York last time after racking up his fourth win of the season.
He’s proven himself to be number one in the staying division. But he’s not unbeatable. The four-year-old lost out on soft ground here a year ago. A similarly damp outlook on Saturday could let in one of six contenders. Aidan O’Brien has three darts at this, with Irish St Leger winner Flag Of Honour expected to go improve after winning a poor renewal at the Curragh. Ralph Beckett and Mount Moriah should also enjoy this sort of ground after finishing fourth behind Order Of St George in similar conditions 12 months ago.
The Tin Man and Librisa Breeze may be among the favourites for this 6f dash. But all eyes will be on Harry Angel back at Ascot. Clive Cox’s speedster has yet to taste success in five attempts in Berkshire despite proving his worth in elite company at both Newmarket and Haydock.
Can he finally get it right at Ascot in what could be his final career start? The aforementioned duo will fancy their chances along with rejuvenated four-timer seeking Limato and the unpredictable Brando.
Fillies and Mares Stakes
Outside of Stradivarius, Lah Ti Dar is probably the likeliest good thing on Champions Day. Gosden’s fantastic filly has won three out of her four starts and found only Kew Gardens too tough in the St Leger last month. That form line is comfortably the strongest in the race.
Prix Vermeille winner Kitesurf and Coronet will oppose alongside O’Brien pair Hydrangea and Magical. Roger Varian’s three-year-old, Pilaster, could also challenge back down at 1m 4f after winning a Group 2 contest at Goodwood and finishing runner-up at Doncaster over 1m 6f.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Laurens rarely goes off as favourite. And she’s not likely to again here with Roaring Lion looking for his fourth Group 1 win in a row. Gosden’s star has been imperious over 1m 2f this term. Can he handle the drop back to 1m? If he can’t, then Laurens will likely be on the premises. Karl Burke’s filly has lost just once over 1m and recently landed her fourth Group 1 of the season in the Sun Chariot Stakes. Connections have opted to supplement the three-year-old for this one – and with a £660,000 pot on offer, who can blame them?
French raider Recoletos’ form doesn’t look quite as good following Wind Chimes’ disappointing showing in the Sun Chariot. Likewise, Lightning Spear has disappointed in this company before. Ex-handicappers Lord Glitters, Addeybb and Beat The Bank will be hopeful of positive runs.
Cracksman bolted up by 7l to win the Champion Stakes 12 months ago. Gosden’s under-fire colt is unlikely to have things quite as easy this time. The son of Frankel requires tread underfoot to do his best work and must bounce back from defeat to Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in June.
If he doesn’t, then Crystal Ocean will certainly be on the premises. Sir Michael Stoute’s charge missed the Arc in favour of this and must be taken under consideration after running well behind Enable in the September Stakes. Capri remains relatively fresh in the context of the season, while Monarchs Glen will need a significant step up to challenge in this company.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing