Jim Crowley: If he runs he’s the one to beat
Jockey and Coral ambassador Jim Crowley discusses his two rides on British Champions Day 2023 plus his thoughts on the other four races at Ascot on Saturday.
The decision to switch the races over a mile to the inner hurdles track wasn’t a surprise given all the rainfall Ascot has experienced this week, and while the move does increase the chances of Mostahdaf running in the Champion Stakes, the team will still walk the course and speak to jockeys who ride the track in the Long Distance and Fillies & Mares races before a final decision is made.
Mostahdaf does having winning form on soft ground, albeit at a lower level than this, so he does act on it, but he’s shown in his four runs this year that he is best on decent ground, and we do have the option of the Breeders’ Cup Turf next month, which is likely to be run on quicker ground, so we won’t take any chances running him here if the team don’t think the ground is suitable.
If he does line up, I am sure he’s the one to beat. His wins in the Prince Of Wales’s and Juddmonte International make him the leading 10-furlong performer of the season, and beating Nashwa and Paddington at York is top-class form. I always felt he was capable of reaching this level, and at the age of five he’s fully matured and fulfilled all that promise.
I have the utmost respect for his rivals, particularly King Of Steel, who represents the Derby and Irish Champion form of Auguste Rodin, while last year’s winner Bay Bridge will be a major player if he’s over his Arc run. Horizon Dore is currently favourite, and while the French runners have had a great year, he doesn’t have Group One form to his name yet.
So to sum up, if my fellow runs, I think he will take all the beating, but there is still a question mark over the ground, so we won’t know for sure about his participation until nearer race time. He’s an important stallion prospect for Shadwell so it’s only right that plenty of thought is given to this key decision.
It’s great to get back on Dual Identity as he’s a horse I’ve won several times on, and I’ve also enjoyed plenty of success for his trainer William Knight over the years. He wasn’t disgraced when finishing 10th in the Cambridgeshire, and the time before that he was a winner at Sandown, so he’s in decent form.
He’s also versatile in terms of going, and we’re drawn in 10 so should have plenty of pace around us, and while this is a really competitive contest, as it should be for the prize money, he could run well at an each-way price.
Other Champions Day races
The Long Distance Cup (1.15) looks a match between Kyprios and Trueshan, and while it’s great to see Trueshan back to form, I can see Broome challenging him for the lead early on, and that could set the race up for Ryan Moore on Kyprios, who on a return to his form of last season would be the clear pick here anyway.
The Sprint (1.50) could give Frankie Dettori a winner, as Kinross has conditions to suit, and this softer ground means his seven-furlong stamina is seen to best effect, while the Fillies & Mares race (2.25) is wide open with no standout performer. Bluestocking has run well all year without winning so looks the each-way option.
The QE II has a superb line-up, Paddington has been freshened up for this and is a worthy favourite, but Nashwa finished in front of him at York and can’t be dismissed.