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18 Group 1 winners entered for £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes

9 Aug 2017

Star-studded cast set for Europe's richest mile-and-a-quarter contest

A thrilling and high-class clash looks assured for the QIPCO Champion Stakes, Europe’s richest mile-and-a-quarter contest, with the 49 horses entered having already accumulated 39 Group 1s between them.

Highlights amongst them include superstar filly, Enable, ranked third best in the world (126) following her barnstorming victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) when four-and-a-half-lengths clear of Ulysses, Idaho and Highland Reel, all of whom also hold entries.

Enable holds dual entries for the QIPCO Champion Stakes and QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes ahead of her next target of the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

“Obviously she has been entered in both Ascot races and there is a week longer between the Arc and Champions Day this year. That means from a trainer’s point of view, you’re not trying to back up in 13 days at Ascot this year – there are 20 this time – so all possibilities are open. A lot could still happen in the months ahead but it’s a great day and a meeting we’ve had some success at in the past. We hope to be supporting the whole day with runners.”

Could Enable clash with last year’s winner Almanzor? Jean-Claude Rouget has entered both him and three stablemates – Brametot, Taareef and Afandem.

“I have yet to make any decisions, and we will know more after Almanzor’s comeback race on 15th August in the Prix Gontaut-Biron,” the trainer said. “He satisfied me when working last Tuesday and although he won’t be 100% fit, I’m hopeful of a good performance.”

Alain de Royer-Dupre also has an eye on the QIPCO Champion Stakes for another possible French-trained raider, Zarak, who finished second to Almanzor in last year’s French Derby and took the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on his most recent start.

The trainer commented: “The QIPCO Champion Stakes comes as perfect timing for Zarak’s programme. We are looking forward to it and it is very much in his plans at the moment.”

Another top-class horse firmly on track for the meeting is Barney Roy, the winner of the St James’s Palace Stakes, whose trainer Richard Hannon has made QIPCO British Champions Day a target ever since his colt was beaten in a photo-finish by fellow QIPCO Champion Stakes entry, Ulysses, in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes.

“Barney Roy has been entered in both the QIPCO Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champions Day is a target for him,” Hannon said. “I’m not sure which race he goes for, it really depends how his next race goes.

“He had two relatively hard races within quite a short space of time, but he came out of the Eclipse jumping and kicking and he’s fresh and well. He’s obviously very effective over a mile, but a mile and a quarter obviously isn’t a problem either. Sandown was a stiff mile and a quarter, they went a fair clip, and he galloped all the way to the top of the hill, so he couldn’t have done much more to prove his stamina.

“So many people came up to me both at Sandown afterwards and said ‘What a great race’ and all I could think was ‘But he didn’t win’, but I know what they were saying. It was a hell of a performance from a three-year-old.”

Other eye-catching entries include French Oaks winner Senga, also entered for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, whose trainer Pascal Bary said, “She’s been in really good form since the Prix de Diane and the plan is to run her in the Group 2 Prix de la Nonette on August 18. We’ll see how she takes that, but the idea would then be to go for the Prix de l’Opera, and have a look at Ascot afterwards. She’s won a Group 1 over 2,000 metres, so that would be more likely to be the distance that we would go for should she run, but nothing is decided for the moment. We wanted to enter her in both so she has a range of options for her programme when the time comes.”

The line-up also includes a powerful roster from Ballydoyle including dual Guineas winner Churchill, Winter and Highland Reel.

Tickets are selling fast for Britain’s richest raceday, so be sure to secure your spot at Ascot on Saturday 21 October.

FULL LIST OF RUNNERS

Afandem (FR), Almanzor (FR), Al Wukair (IRE), Autocratic (GB), Barney Roy (GB), Benbatl (GB), Best of Days (GB), Best Solution (IRE), Brametot (IRE), Cape Byron (GB), Capri (IRE), Churchill (IRE), Cliffs of Moher (IRE), Cracksman (GB), Deauville (IRE), Decorated Knight (GB), Desert Encounter (IRE), Eminent (IRE), Enable (GB), Hathal (USA), Hawkbill (USA), Highland Reel (IRE), Hydrangea (IRE), Idaho (IRE), Jack Hobbs (GB), Lancaster Bomber (USA), Last Kingdom (USA), Maverick Wave (USA), My Dream Boat (IRE), Permian (IRE), Poet’s Word (IRE), Qatari Hunter (IRE), Racing History (IRE), Recoletos (FR), Rhododendron (IRE), Roly Poly (USA), Senga (USA), Shutter Speed (GB), Sir John Lavery (IRE), So Mi Dar (GB), Success Days (IRE), Taareef (USA), Taj Mahal (IRE), Thunder Snow (IRE), Ulysses (IRE), War Decree (USA), Winter (IRE), Yucatan (IRE), Zarak (FR).