Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo Plus) (12.45) – Agent Murphy is making a debut at 2 miles but he has only shaped like it would improve him and he should take the beating here. Second in the Irish St Leger behind Order of St George, when ahead of two other key rivals here when swooping past beaten horses to claim a late second. His previous win in the Geoffrey Freer when extending well away at the finish reads well, with Pallasator (admittedly maybe running over a trip too short) back in fourth over five lengths back. His third in the Grand Prix De Chantilly also stacks up well, and in short, a big effort should be coming from this still progressive stayer who promises to relish the step up in trip with the ground surely fine for him too.
Forgotten Rules was well fancied for the Irish St Leger but disappointed slightly when fifth. However, that was his first run since a hard summer – when third in the Gold Cup and then rather brashly run in the Curragh Cup soon after – and it could be that we see him back to his best here, which would see him set a high standard. Given the history of his trainer with this race – he has won it twice, once with Rite of Passage, the other with Forgotten Rules – he has to be respected here.
Clever Cookie went off a very short price for the King George and ran a fair race given that he was out of his depth against middle distance horses on ground that was overestimated in terms of his ease. His defeat of Tac De Boistron earlier in the season at Chester reads well, although he was getting a hefty amount of weight and he was well beaten by Max Dynamite in the Lonsdale Cup when last seen. He is respected but taken on.
Flying Officer has won his two races this year in the style of an improved horse – the latest of them when he had Gale Force well beaten – and gains respect for that, but he was a well beaten sixth in this last year and more is needed here. Pallasator made his season – which had previously been disappointing – with a fine win in the Doncaster Cup when he beat Clondaw Warrior and should be up for another big run in this race (having finished third in this last year) although he was well behind Agent Murphy when the two last met and Forgotten Rules in 2014.
That Litigant managed to win the Ebor off an 16 month absence on debut for the Joseph Tuite yard was a magnificent achievement in itself and off the bare form he has to be taken seriously with Suiegoo having been third there and Wicklow Brave second. Wicklow Brave has since finished third in the Irish St Leger, when little separated him and Agent Murphy although today’s favourite was finishing faster than he was. However, both are very strong each/way contenders on that showing with more potentially to come from Litigant on his second run for this new yard.
Clondaw Warrior is probably in need of a break, having run disappointingly in France (along with stablemate Simenon, who looks to have gone off the boil) after a very hard season which has come off the back off a long jumps season. He was ahead of Suiegoo in the Doncaster Cup but one would fancy Pallasator to confirm the form with both of those two.
Godolphin’s Hidden Gold was ahead of Clever Cookie in the Lonsdale but bombed big style in Doncaster Cup and doesn’t look the most trustworthy on that basis despite a good second to Simple Verse; Three year old Amour De Nuit is progressive but has a great deal of ground to make up even for Sir Mark Prescott.
Advice: 2 pts each/way Agent Murphy (11/2 general)
Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo+) (1.20) – Charlie Hills has had a terrific season with sprinters and his Champion Muharaar has got to be hugely respected in his bid for a fourth Group 1 of the year here but stablemate Strath Burn has been ignored after a fine season in which he was possibly unlucky not to take the Sprint Cup when just failing to catch Twilight Son at Haydock. The race had developed away from him that day, as Andrea Atzeni was caught on the nearside given his draw, but he was in front after the line and may well have won over the stiffer track today. Progressive all season (having always been highly rated by his trainer), he may well reverse that form and give his stablemate something to think about.
Twilight Son has capped of rapid improvement with a gutsy win in the Sprint Cup, when he travelled much the best and had enough to hold off fellow three year olds Strath Burn and Magical Memory with Danzeno, a comfortable winner at Musselburgh since, back in fifth. Having had just five starts, there’s every chance that he can continue to improve once again and that makes him a major threat but he looks short in relation to Strath Burn given how little was between them when they last met.
Muhaaraar, a revelation when sprinting this season, stands head and shoulders over the field on form with either of his three Group 1 wins. The form of the Commonwealth Cup has worked out in fine fashion with Limato a well beaten second whilst he was gutsy in the July Cup and then even more so when landing the Prix Maurice De Gheest shortly after that, when he beat many of today’s rivals in behind. Having been freshened up, his claims are hard to ignore.
The Tin Man Is almost certainly a group horse based on his absolute destruction of the field last time and there are hints in all the right places given his supplementary entry, breeding (a half brother to Deacon Blues) and trainer (thrives with sprinters, inc Deacon Blues) so he’s tremendously hard to discount.
One who has gone under the radar for sure is the Singapore raider Emperor Max. His second to World Champion Aerovelocity is standout form here and he comes having since won nice and snugly in the Garden City Trophy to follow up that effort. 33/1 looks overly dismissive.
Danzeno was possibly unlucky in the July Cup but looked to be beaten fair and square in the Sprint Cup and proved nothing in winning a small field race at Musselburgh last time. 2012 winner Maarek has been at his best in his last two runs before the Abbaye although he would have wanted more rain for an even bigger bid. Fellow Irish raider Great Minds desperately needs cut to contend with the best of these. Gordon Lord Bryon was beaten behind Muhaarar in the Maurice De Gheest (with Coulsty eighth and since also well held at Group 2 level) and hasn’t run a race that would give him a winning chance here since and Adaay has been well beaten in his last two runs at 6 furlongs in group 1 races. Lighting Moon still retains potential after just the five runs although his run in the Park Stakes was a tad disappointing even if he has more ideal conditions today. His form with Danzeno leaves him with a lot to prove.
Jack Dexter has placed in 2012 and 2013 but has lost the thread of a succession of fine early season performances and will need a pace burnup. Nadirr has been gelded and recovered some earlier form with a good fourth in the Park Stakes and then a solid second behind Eastern Impact (Aelous then sixth) but he needs to improve to reverse that form based on that second. Since the Wokingham, Interception (who had Lancelot Du Lac in third) has not managed to prove herself truly pattern class and it may be the same problem for Heaven’s Guest who could possibly be better at seven furlongs to boot. Gathering Power hasn’t proven upto some of his namesakes this year.
Advice: 2 pts each/way Strath Burn (8/1 general)
Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo+) (1.55) – A corking renewal. The focus is on the three year olds at the top of the market but Tapestry’s form matches up to the best of them here and following a fine reappearance in the Blandford Stakes after nearly 10 months off when second to Group 1 performer Ribbons at the Curragh, her Arc effort (a second poor one in two years) can be easily forgiven and just last year she managed to get the better of Taghrooda in the Yorkshire Oaks when previously unlucky not to have won the Irish Oaks (saddle slipped).
Covert Love has been one of the standout performers of the Distaff season, winning the Irish Oaks when having the run of the race helped matters before being run down only close home in the Yorkshire Oaks and then bouncing back in the Prix L’Opera at Longchamp when showing exceptional tenacity to fight off a strong field. The one worry for her is that she’s running just two weeks after that race in what was surely an afterthought here.
Candarliya, whose only defeat in her last six starts was when second to Treve in the Vermille, merits respect having won the Royalieu in fine style on Arc weekend a day before Covert Love. Her progression and form merits huge respect but this too looks to have been hastily arranged which is a worry as she has been on the go from early in the season.
Francis Doumen’s Sea Calisi has finished behind both the aforementioned pair but little separates them on that basis and this has most likely been the target for the Yorkshire Oaks third, to whom all ground comes alike. Still progressive on all evidence, she is one of many in with a serious chance.
St Leger winner Simple Verse has taken giant steps in just a couple of months and has to be hugely respected here, but whether this drop back in trip is ideal is debateable despite the stiff course and likely strong gallop (two front runners at least in the field). She’s entitled to take a serious hand in the finish.
Journey’s eight length Newmarket listed romp was an astonishing performance from a horse that is clearly thriving late in the season, having previously run out an impressive winner of the Upavon Fillies’ Stakes. She’s got to be respected on the visual impression she left but she’s beaten very little on both occasions and is pitched in especially deep here. She may also fight with Covert Love for the lead which could compromise both their chances.
Beautiful Romance was a revelation stepped up in trip at Windsor when making a mockery of a good field in the August Stakes and leaving established group horses trailing in her wake, so it was disappointing that she was so well beaten in the Vermille when she found the lack of any sort of gallop well against her as she faded badly late. A bounce back is not out of the question for one so lightly races and she should settle better off today’s pace even in this more exalted company. Arabian Queen as already pulled off the shock of the season by beating Golden Horn but she pulled her chances away at Longchamp and one cannot sure this trip is the best spot for her.
Bocca Bacciata has had a good year but was behind Tapestry (Lancashire Oaks winner Lady Tiana) and would need to improve to reverse that form today whilst the ground is probably not soft enough for Madame Chiang, last year’s winner of this event. Speedy Boarding was well beaten in the Irish Oaks, when worryingly, her stamina looked to be stretched.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Tapestry (9/1 general)
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored By QIPCO (British Champions Mile) (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo+) (2.30) – The will he/won’t he saga of what happens with Gleneagles participation has dominated the run up but with the ground riding slower than connections would want ideally thanks to late autumn conditions and a heavy dew it has to be doubtful that he will run with ‘1 mm of rain’ enough to curtail his chances according to Aidan O’Brien.
Solow is a rightful favourite, having won four Group 1’s on the bounce this season in varying styles. His Meydan win in the Dubai Turf was a slick success that was sealed in second whilst he dismissed opposition in the d’Isphan with ease, but he showed tenacity and guts to land the Queen Anne and Sussex Stakes when prominent all the way before holding off his opposition. His defeat of Estoterique now looked even better and on that he sets an imposing standard here which will be hard to topple, and to boot, this has also been the target since Goodwood thanks to his gelding status ruling him out of many a major mile event.
Kodi Bear has been deeply impressive since coming back from injury, with a dominating pair of wins in the Soverign Stakes and Celebration Mile from the front, both times putting the race to bed with the minimum of fuss. The lack of sustained pace from the front is also a potentially big help for his chances.
The forgotten horse in this field may be Territories, who was second in the 2,000 Guineas behind Gleneagles before running out an impressive winner when much more superior than the winning margin suggested, before a very fair second to Estoterique – one of the standouts in this division – at Deauville when the ground was far softer than he would have cared for underfoot (missed the Moulin due to heavy conditions afterwards). Underfoot conditions today should be right up his street and he is capable of going very well.
Elm Park, absent since his Derby blowout, won easily at Sandown from Gabriel (third in the Sussex when running well above himself) in a three runner Listed event on his return. His Dante form is exceptional on a line through Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs, but that came over 10 furlongs when it looked sure that he’d improve for going further and this test today may not suit especially with a lack of confirmed early pace on. The lead is there, but outrunning this field will be a huge test.
Integral looked back to her best when second in the Sun Chariot behind Estoterique, form something like her best, and that gives her the look of being overpriced at 20/1 for each/way players, although this is far tougher.
Belardo needs the ground softer and has not gone on from his 2 year old campaign and whilst Top Notch Tonto has done very well for himself in the latter part of the campaign, but surely not well enough to be landing a race of this calibre (he was second to Custom Cut in Ireland two starts back, himself behind Arod in the Summer).
Advice: 1 pt each/way Territories (9/1 general)
QIPCO Champion Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo+) (3.05) – The record of 3yos (none have won since 2008) is not an inspiring one but in Jack Hobbs and Found the younger generation have a smashing chance today with John Gosden’s derby runner up a very worthy favourite. An all-weather maiden winner last December, his progress has been nothing short of astonishing since making a mockery of his handicap mark at Sandown to winning the Irish Derby, gearing up for this with a nice simple win in the September Stakes. Only Golden Horn – the Irish Champion Stakes and Arc winner – has beaten him this year and he has had either this or the Arc as his target since the summer. Some will be concerned about the wide draw, but for such a strong confirmed stayer shouldn’t be affected and the ground should be no issue either so it’s hard not to see him going close.
Found has had an trying season but proven herself worthy of open age company with a fine second (should have been third) in the Irish Champion Stakes before an unlucky but eyecatching ninth when getting absolutely no run, having tried to come from deep in an extremely slowly run race. She has had a long season, but a gap between June and April will have helped her greatly in that regard and she should be up to going very close.
Vadamos has won twice for Andre Fabre since moving to his yard and based on the style of his wins, and also the fact that his master trainer has chosen to send him here, he alone is entitled to serious respect. However a five length defeat of Merry Me – a runner later in the Balmoral Handicap – is listen form on the ratings on the book at best and whilst he obviously has so much more to give, he’s got a serious jump to make in those form terms and others.
The Corsican was unlucky not to finish close than fourth in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, having been held up in a what was a slowly run race before being forced wide in the straight after suffering consistent interference. Unlucky not to win at Glorious Goodwood, but he was impressive when winning the Newbury Arc Trial last time on ground that would not have suited him and a big run here is not out of the question for the still progressive four year old.
Racing History, a perfect three from three this season, has answered every question asked of him so far, but this askes a totally different one to the Winter Hill Stakes and the runner up that day, (Cannock Chase) was well beaten in the Prince of Wales’ Stakes. A slow ground 10 furlongs is the perfect situation for Fascinating Rock, who was a big disappointment when fifth in the Winter Hill, he was widely impressive on Irish Champions Weekend when his main rival went wrong but hi Tattersalls Gold Cup second stands up well for form comparisons and he hails from a yard that thrives on targeting this race.
Prix Jean Romanet winner Ribbons bounced back to her best form – which she had previously shown – to land the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh when holding on gamely from Tapestry but the runner up that day had not had the advantage of a run this season and improvement will be needed on all her form.
Qatar Racing would love to land their feature race but Sumbal’s form does not look good enough on a line through either New Bay or Highland Reel (whilst he was beaten by French Derby blowout Karakatar latest) whilst Lightning Spear’s latest effort ended his improvement, and this trip does not look to be an ideal change for him.
Tulius has won the York Stakes, but he was well beaten in the Eclipse when last behind Golden Horn and that suggests he’ll struggle. Air Port Lux ran a fine race in the Prix Dollar when third but that form is a level below what the major players will bring here and even a lightly raced
Maverick Wave’s Huxley Stakes win was a strong effort but he was last in the Arlington Million and may be a pacemaker for Jack Hobbs. Palace Prince’s form needs improving on based on his defeats in both German Group 1’s this year for all he ran creditably in both.
Advice: 1 pt each/way The Coriscian (11/1 Bet365), 1 pt Found to finish in the Top 3 (5/6 Paddy Power)
Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored By QIPCO) (Class 2) (3yo+) (3.45) – A large amount of these don’t make appeal. Balty Boys was extremely unlucky not to win the Hunt Cup given where he ended up and he was then a close second in the International Stakes to a class act over course and distance. Since a winner of a Haydock Group 3, he is only 4lbs higher in the handicap today, should be fine on the course and ground, and looks overpriced in general.
Buckstay’s fantastic season was made even better when he landed a major Heritage handicap here when travelling all over the winner before then edging out Gabriel’s Lad on the line and he must be entitled to respect, as are Cambrigeshire sixth and seventh GM Hopkins (the Hunt Cup winner) and Musaddas. The latter does have the 5lbs claim of Edward Geartrex although he does need to prove himself more tractable. Master the World was a close second that day and under the guidance of Ryan Moore, is a major threat although he wouldn’t want to hang left in the later stages. Bronze Angel was disappointing when trying for a third Cambridgeshire and may be too high following his win in this last year (and at Doncaster) whilst Merry Me’s mark has shot up following some runs in pattern company, including to Champion Stakes contender Vadamos, and it’s possible he’s not so well handicapped.
Sacrificial, clearly best of his side in the Britannia and then a winner at Galway since, was coming too late in a Listed event latest but that was another improved effort and he can surely go close.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Balty Boys (16/1 Paddy Power, Bet Victor), 1 pt each/way Sacrificial (7/1 Paddy Power)