Five Champions Series showdowns to savour in 2018
5 Apr 2018
30 days to go until the eighth running of the QIPCO British Champions Series
With just 30 days until Newmarket’s famous Rowley Mile course hosts the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, this year’s eighth running of the QIPCO British Champions Series looks set to deliver some thrilling contests once more.
The Series, which comprises five championship categories of Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Fillies & Mares accounted for four of the World’s top ten races last year and will once again culminate in Britain’s richest raceday, QIPCO British Champions Day on 20 October 2018.
With established stars set to return and fresh talent progressing onto the scene, QIPCO British Champions Series could be the stage for some sensational showdowns in each category this summer.
Saxon Warrior v Roaring Lion: QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket – Saturday 5th May
The pair had a great tussle in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October, when Saxon Warrior prevailed by a neck. It might have been a different story had Roaring Lion not made up ground from the rear quite so quickly, or edged left near the finish. Connections of the pair also have Investec Derby aspirations, so do not discount another clash at Epsom in June.
Best of British against best of the Aussies? It’s on the cards. The Diamond Jubilee is a target for Harry Angel, winner of the Darley July Cup and 32Red Sprint Cup last summer, while connections of Redkirk Warrior seem keen on him trying to emulate Black Caviar, the mighty Australian mare who won the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Redkirk Warrior has already won two Group 1 races this year and the pair could clash on the final day of Royal Ascot in June.
A mid-season showdown between the outstanding stablemates would be quite something. Enable was a runaway winner of the King George at Ascot last summer and went on to finish the campaign with five emphatic Group 1 wins to her name, including three Series’ contests.
Cracksman also shone at Ascot with a breathtaking seven-length win in the QIPCO Champion Stakes in October, emulating his super-sire Frankel and earning him an official rating as the third best horse in the World. The pair are yet to meet but plans could see their paths cross at Ascot later this year.
“Let’s meet him on level weights next year and see what happens,” said a rueful Michael Bell after his star stayer Big Orange had been denied a historic third successive Goodwood Cup last summer by the progressive three-year-old Stradivarius. Bell may well get his wish as the two-mile feature is high on the agenda of both horses. Stradivarius made the most of the 13lb that Big Orange had to concede last summer because of the weight-for-age scale, asserting late on under Andrea Atzeni and winning by a length and three quarters. The pair could also clash in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot as a prelude to their second battle on the Sussex Downs.
Aidan O’Brien has saddled the winner of the Nassau Stakes four times since 2007 and has won the past two with Minding and Winter. He is not adverse to having more than one runner in the biggest races and it cannot be long odds against these high-class fillies again locking horns, especially given they already have met five times. Rhododendron leads their battles by a 4-1 margin, beating her stablemate by a head in their latest clash when they dominated the finish of the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera at Chantilly in October. It was the same margin that Rhododendron prevailed by when they first met as two-year-olds in 2016.