British Champions Day 2016

QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo+) (1.25): It’s a bit simplistic to put the race in these terms but if Order Of St George is none the worse for his Arc third then he is going to be very hard to beat. However, he’s only had a couple of weeks to get over it and the time before he was lacklustre and awkward when he couldn’t get past Wicklow Brave. That was his first dull effort in months but at evens one can avoid finding out how well he is at evens.

The same questions apply to Quest For More, but Roger Charlton’s stayer is 10 times the price and won the Cadran with a fine late rattle (when Nearly Caught was a well held third) building on a fantastic summer that he’s had which also includes a wide maegin win in the Lonsdale Cup and a close second in the Doncaster Cup. He can go from the front or come late and if George Baker opts for the first choice he is going to be very hard to pass.

Sheikhzayedroad got the better of him by just a nose at Doncaster (having previously done so in the Goodwood Cup, as seen in picture), capping of a fine series of runs from this time last year, including when he was third in the Ascot Gold Cup. Having presumably had this race as the target it is a surprise that he’s as big in the market given that he’s shown form which entitled him to be a lot short than he currently is.

Simple Verse was a fine winner on this card last year after taking the St Leger and after coming back to form with a fine win in the Park Stakes when she got Oision Murphy out of a hole (or the other way round depending on which way you see it) with a powerful late surge. 2 miles ought to see her improve once again and she is one of the main players, albeit not the each/way price she once was.

This race was one of a few disappointment for Forgotten Rules last year but he made a lovely comeback in the shape of his runner up effort at the Curragh behind a solid stayer in the shape of Twilight Shape. If back to his best then he’s a major player.

Litigant was brilliantly trained to take the Ebor and then the November handicap either side of a below part effort when seventh in this last year. He’s been trained for the race this time around so has to be respected, although he has to improve still to make his mark. Sandro Botticello didn’t back up his Sandown listed win on quicker ground in the Goodwood Cup and he wants more rain here still. Gold Prince looks to be ought of his depth based on his recent handicap efforts.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Quest For More (10/1 general), 1 pt each/way Sheikhzayedroad (16/1 general)

QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo+) (2.00): One of the races of the day, if not the sprints of the year. Quiet Reflection’s connections will be delighted that Limato goes elsewhere as the July Cup form has her down as the one to beat in no uncertain terms and she ought to go close; 11/4 is one of the fairest prices on the card through pretty much any line of form and she ought to go very close.

The highest rated filly here is Mecca’s Angel, the two time Nunthorpe winner who trashed Limato in almost setting a course record at York this year. On that form she’s the best horse here but she didn’t run upto that level when third in the Abbaye when the inner and second ended the race stronger and over 6 furlongs off the back of the turnaround this is a different ask. She has had a fantastic career, however, and goes to the breeding shed with best wishes.

The Tin Man, fourth last year, is a little shorter than he was when recommended as an ante post bet on Twitter but one gets the sense that he is still on the improve following his fine second in the Sprint Cup to Quiet Reflection. He hasn’t run a bad race bar his disappointment when well behind in the Diamond Jubilee but it didn’t pay to try and make ground up that day and he ought to be involved in the finish here.

Second that day (last year’s renewal), Twilight Son was a disappointment in the July Cup – it may well have been the very fast ground that did for him – and one would presume that he’s been geared for this all along which would make him a great danger with the ground likely to be sound but not as jarring.

Shalaa is another major player. Off all year thanks to a pelvic injury, last year’s champion sprinting juvenile returned at Ascot in fine style, travelling so well that he managed to burn off most of his opposition in the Bengough Stake, including Mobsta and Don’t Touch, before finding an impressive amount considering the job that John Gosden did to get him to that point. If one was to pick a flaw, it may be that none of his performances on the formbook rival those of the market or ratings leaders but one would be foolish to doubt further improvement.

Librisa Breeze ran his final furlong in 12 second when wining the International, a performance that has to be seen to be believed given that he came literally from last to first. That he turned such a competitive handicap into what was an essentially a piece of work was a phenomenal performance and he should have the pace for the drop back to 6 furlongs, and once again he should beat Growl and Jack Dexeter

It’s a sign of how good this race is that Signs of Blessing, a gutsy winner of the Maurice De Gheest, is 16/1, a price that’s probably taken too literally on form through the runner up Dounjan Triumphant. Any ease in the ground is likely to be a bonus for his chance and he ought to run better than his odds suggest.

Brando was an impressive winner of the Ayr Gold Cup, merely confirming his position as a group class horse rather than announcing himself as one. He was unable to land a blow in the Nunthrope or when three lengths second in the Sapphire Stakes, however, to Mecca’s, although he does have plenty of form over course and distance.

Ante Post: 1 pt each/way The Tin Man, 3RD October (8/1 Bet Victor)

British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo+) (2.35): Aidan O’Brien is very close to at least matching the record of Bobby Frankel for Grade 1’s in a year and he has a big chance with Seventh Heaven (seen below, winning Yorkshire Oaks) here. His daughter of Galileo has done nothing but improve this year and but for hating the track and maybe the ground at Epsom when clearly below form, she would be unbeaten here. An impressive winner of the Irish Oaks, she was deeply impressive when given a good to firm surface in the Yorkshire Oaks, when she was one off the first off the bridle but by far the strongest towards the end of the race, beating her illustrious stablemate Found in fine style. That form isn’t to be taken as gospel as Found was not at her peak but Queen’s Trust was still well held in third and there were long gaps to the rest including Even Son. She can beat Architecture once again and should take the beating here.

 

Zukhova gives Ireland a powerful double hand, having trashed Pretty Perfect in the Blue Wind before winning the Enterprise Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend. She appears to get better and better and she showed a useful turn of pace on that weekend to get the better of the Derby runner up to boot. That form gives her a strong chance.

Journey, second in this last year, will probably have to improve on that effort if she’s to perform as well this time around, although she was just as impressive in retaining her Listed event at Newmarket. She is a prime each/way player who’s had this race as her aim for a good while.

Speedy Boarding was tenacious in winning the L’Opera and if she’s over that then she ought to be involved. One assumes she’s improved since last year when she was ninth as a 25/1 shot in this race and also when she was behind Journey at York over 10 furlongs in May, her preferred distance. She was well ahead of Bateel and Bocca Bacciata, and it may be that Bateel is happier at this distance whilst

Ballydoyle also send Pretty Perfect, who was just caught in the Park Hill after her fourth in the Yorkshire Oaks, and Even Son, a disappointment the last twice after winning the Ribblesdale. Pretty Perfect is of more interest but would need Pretty Perfect is of more interest but she may be run down in the same fashion as she was at Doncaster and California, who was third there, is in deeper here too. Promising Run and Maleficent Queen need to improve dramatically.

Advice: 4 pts win Seventh Heaven (9/4 general)

Already Advised: 1 pt each/way Journey, 3rd October (15/2 general)

QIPCO Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo+) (3.10): This looks set to be dominated by the classic generation according to the betting. Minding may have been beaten in the Irish Champion Stakes but given the form of that contest it may have been her best ever effort and the drop down to a mile shouldn’t trouble a speedy and classy filly. There was no shame in being beaten by France’s top 3-year-old colt and the eventual winner of the Arc and it’s worth remembering that she’s a Guineas winner too. On faster ground today then when shocked by the Irish 1,000 winner Jet Setting, she can take the beating. Ribchester (below), unlucky not to take the Sussex Stakes when Galileo Gold got the superior ride, and he reversed that form in empathetic terms when he stuck it out best to win the Marois from the subsequent Moulin winner Vadamos. Galileo Gold himself was clearly well below par then and ought to be seriously involved here if back to his best after 63 days off.

Awtaad was ahead of Hit it A Bomb when he was back to form In taking the Clipper Logistics Mile on Irish Champions Weekend and should confirmed that form, although his best form has come with some cut and it’s notable that his big disappointment of the season has come on the fastest ground he’s run over.

Lightning Spear clocked the fastest closing sectional in the Queen Anne and was given too much to do there and also in the Sussex but he was well behind the three year olds there and the Moulin before taking the Goodwood Mile. Hathal’s return when beating Mitchium Swagger at Haydock was impressive and he can improve from that, although one could suggest that he needs more time still.

Stormy Antarctic was a solid second in the Prix Jean Prat but didn’t land a blow in the Marois and he appears to be another one who wants rain to come.  Breton Rock’s Park Stakes win has been boosted since and he does have some decent form on good ground but the more rain the better for

Advice: 1 pt win Minding (2/1 general)

QIPCO Champion Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo+) (3.45): A fantastic renewal. Having finished first and second in the Irish equivalent, Alamanzour and Found (below) are deservedly first and second favorites especially given that Found went and won the Arc, the big victory she’d been threatening for so long. A strict re-reading of the form would suggest that Almanzour, for whom this has been the target since then, can come out on top but Found has been improving as the year goes on and confirming that form is no guarantee.

This is without even getting to last year’s winner, Fascinating Rock, who didn’t go to either the Irish Champion Stakes or the Arc, and who got the better of Found when taking this race last year. There was far more cut in the ground then and Found had the worse run through of the two, but he appeared to be the winner fair and square and he warmed up for this in fine style when second in the Royal Whip, a preparation broadly similar to the one that he took last year.

 

Jack Hobbs was third as favourite last year (when he had Maverick Wave pacemaking) and presumably had this as his target for a long time following his reappearance when he went wrong in the Jockey Club Stakes. This is a difficult return for him and he may have to be watched despite the magic of John Gosden. Racing History, fourth that day, is nearly as exciting and has a big future – indeed it’s notable that he’s bought back here again. That said, this is a stronger renewal and it’s a huge task. My Dream Boat won the Prince of Wales’s at Royal Ascot over C&D but was well behind the leading pair in the Irish Champion and there’s no obvious reason for him to turn around the form.

 

There are two unexposed 3 year old colts here in the shape of US Army Ranger and Midterm here, both of whom have promising futures, although both need to improve drastically. US Army Ranger has looked like a through stayer in his last two starts, one of them when well behind Fascinating Rock at the Curragh, and the Derby second’s form has taken some knocks since to boot. Midterm ran a fine race when second in the Niel, having set his own pace in front, but the form of that took a beating when Makahiki was a no-show in the big event. Both are likely to be 12 furlong horses.

 

The Grey Gatsby has become regressive and Gabriel is capable of running big races but hasn’t won since a Listed contest in June over a mile at Windsor.

 

Advice: 1 pt each/way Fascinating Rock (15/2 Paddy Power)

Already Advised: 2 pts each/way Fascinating Rock, 3rd October (13/2 general)

Balmoral Handicap (Class 2) (3yo+) (4.25): That the bottom rated horse has a mark of 98 tells you about the class of this race with several classy horses not able to get in. Firmament travelled wonderfully and was only collared by a group horse in the shape of Librisa Breeze. He was ahead of London Mile winner Afjaan, Jersey Stakes fifth Remarkable, and Goodwood Mile third Donnacha that day and a mile is not bother to him as he showed when winning the Clipper Logistics Stakes at York in the summer (Third Time Lucky behind). Up just 2lbs from his latest effort he has every right to go well.

 

A return to form for Mutararkez would see him as a major player but he has been a disappointment the last twice and now has something to prove. Third Time Lucky, fourth in the Cambridgeshire, should be on the premises again with Zhui Feng (5th), Bonze Angel (15th), Chil The Kite (22nd) and Master The World (32nd) well behind.

 

GM Hopkins was second to well handicapped horse last year in this and he’s now 4lbs lower than when winning a listed race. The secret is out with his price since he was flagged on Betfair earlier this week and he ought to go very well. The step up in trip ought to see Yuften involved at the finish here, whilst Morando, coming here having completed a hat-trick with a fine win at Ayr, is the most unexposed horse in the field and to be feared on that basis. He had the recent York winner Highland Colori well behind when he won at Ayr recently. Dinkum Diamond was third there, a second solid effort in succession. Instant Attraction was well beaten in the Irish Cambridgeshire having previously been seventh in the Hunt Cup beforehand.

 

Irish raider Sea Wolf, winner of the Irish Cambridgeshire, is another to be thrown into the mix. He was ahead of Dream Walker, who may want further than Silent Attack, who suffered a 1/20 defeat in Turkey last time, was second to the progressive Von Bulcher at Newmarket the time before and on that form he has to be given a chance. The last time Emell ran in a handicap he was a solid second over C&D and has to be respect but this a very different task indeed. He’s dropped a couple of pounds since however. Here Comes When appeals as being well handicapped based on his ground form and the same can also be said of Tullius too, for all that he’d want more cut in the ground.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Firmament (8/1 general)