Champion Stakes 2023 odds: Mostahdaf cut after course change
Mostahdaf is 7/2 joint-second favourite in Coral’s Qipco Champion Stakes 2023 odds following the decision that the longer races at Ascot on Saturday will be switched to the inner course.
John and Thady Gosden’s Mostahdaf was ridden to victory by Dettori in the Juddmonte International at York in the absence of the suspended Jim Crowley.
Crowley is back this weekend – read his exclusive Coral blog here – and Mostahdaf’s connections were certainly pleased the race has been moved to the inner course given his dislike of testing ground.
“John Gosden and I will walk the course in the morning. We’re very keen to run, it’s not his favoured surface, we know that, but we’ve got to make sure it’s not too soft,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell.
“I realise there are other people who disagree, but from our point of view switching the courses has to help and from the race’s point of view, as a spectacle, you want the best horses so to attract them you have to run it on the best ground possible. I don’t think the soft ground horses will be inconvenienced anyway.
“We’d be lying if we thought he’d do what he did in Saudi (won by seven lengths) and since then he’s won the two top 10-furlong races on the calendar.
“It was probably our fault he hadn’t been able to show how good he was. He did only lose once at three, but we tried stretching him out to a mile and a half (last year). Clearly 10 furlongs is his trip.”
Roger Varian only has one runner on British Champions Day 2023 – but it is a headline one and he is happy to feel a bit of pressure ahead of King Of Steel’s bid for glory in the Champion Stakes.
Runner-up to Auguste Rodin in the Derby at Epsom, the giant grey went on to win the King Edward VII Stakes over 12 furlongs at the Royal meeting, as well as run with great credit in the King George and the Irish Champion Stakes.
He now tries again to secure his first top-level success and given he is Frankie Dettori’s final mount on his last afternoon in European action, there is an extra expectation on his team.
But Varian is happy to be part of one of the Flat calendar’s marquee events, saying: “It’s a day you want to be involved in.
“Unfortunately we have only got the one runner this year, but we have done well at the meeting in the past. We’ve won the Balmoral once or twice and the last two years we’ve picked up Group One races and we would love to come home with a big prize again this year.
“We’re looking forward to it and it’s exciting. You feel a bit of pressure on the day because you should do, it matters, it’s a big deal. He’s a good horse and we want him to win a big race.
“There will be a little bit of pressure on the day, but that comes with being represented by one of the fancied horses in one of the big races. It’s a position we want to be in and we’re looking forward to it.”
King Of Steel was beaten just a length when dropping to back to a mile and a quarter in the Irish Champion Stakes and Varian is taking heart from a return to Ascot.
“We’ve been very happy with him since Leopardstown,” he said. “We’ve consciously spread his races out, but he’s had hard races because he’s been racing at the top level and he’s not run a bad race all year.
“Saturday won’t be any easier, it’s a tough field assembled, but he very much deserves to be in the race and we think the stiff 10 furlongs will help him.
“I think we can gain some confidence and positivity, but in fairness he’s gone left-handed, he’s gone right-handed, he’s gone up and down Epsom and he’s handled Leopardstown.
“Neither of them are easy tracks and he’s also gone well at Ascot, so I would say he’s an agile horse who is versatile in terms of what kind of track he runs on.
“Yes, it’s nice to know he has run well at Ascot previously, but I suppose any track would not concern me too much knowing the horse.”
Last year’s winner Bay Bridge (pictured below) has perhaps not had the season anticipated by connections but Sir Michael Stoute’s five-year-old ran with credit when sixth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Assistant trainer James Savage said: “We’ve been very pleased with how Bay Bridge came out of the Arc, which was a tough race on ground that dried out throughout the day. He’s been working well since and he’s in good order.
“He ran well at Longchamp and was only beaten about six lengths, having done a little bit too much in Richard’s (Kingscote) hands in the early and middle parts of the race. We are pretty sure he stayed the mile and a half, as he did at Kempton, but you’d have to say that going back to Ascot in conditions we’ve been waiting for all year, he’d have a great shout.”
Horizon Dore has made giant strides this season and is the 3/1 favourite in the Champions Stakes 2023 odds after winning the Prix Dollar on Arc weekend, his fourth successive victory.
The gelding is trained by Patrice Cottier and partly-owned by Le Haras De La Gousserie, whose manager Pauline Chehboub told Sky Sports Racing: “He is doing well, he is in good form with some freshness. The trainer is very happy with him and we can’t wait to watch him on the track again.
“He is stronger than at the start of the season. He needed time this year so we chose to stay in France for the first part of the season, with success, and now it’s time to travel and see him at Group One level.
“Just after his win in the Prix Eugene Adam at Saint-Cloud in July, (when) he showed plenty of acceleration, we chose to target Champions Day for the end of the year and now we are excited to go.”
George Boughey’s Via Sistina is another in the mix having run with credit all season. Connections plumped for this race rather than the QEII Stakes and there would be nothing better than victory in the final British Champions Series race of the year.
“Although she was in both races this has been the plan for her for a long time,” said Boughey.
“I think 10 furlongs is her optimum, and we know that she’s ground-versatile as she won the Pretty Polly on arguably the fastest ground she has ever run on, having previously impressed on soft ground in the Dahlia.
“She looks amazing for this time of year and her best performances come after a break, which she’s had since Deauville two months ago. Oisin (Murphy) already knows her well, having ridden her work when she was with Joe (Tuite). She’s a very high level performer and Oisin is a very good replacement for Jamie (Spencer), who has other commitments.”
Champion Stakes betting odds
3/1 Horizon Dore
7/2 King Of Steel, Mostahdaf
9/2 Bay Bridge
8/1 Via Sistina
12/1 My Prospero
14/1 Royal Rhyme
33/1 Dubai Honour
50/1 Point Lonsdale
All odds and market correct at date of publication