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What will be the fate of favourites on Champions Day?

10 Oct 2018

We put the six ante-post market leaders for the glittering finale at Ascot on Saturday week under the microscope

Oisin Murphy and The Tin Man combined to win the 32Red Sprint Cup last month. Photo: Andy Watts /

How solid are the ante-post favourites for the six races on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday week? We have a look at the credentials of the horses that the bookmakers believe are in pole position to triumph.

1.25pm: QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2)

Favourite: STRADIVARIUS General odds: 10/11

Few will look beyond this year’s outstanding stayer, who has already won four Champions Series races this year – the  Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Qatar Goodwood Cup and Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.

He has been sent off 4/6, 7/4, 4/5 and 4/11 for those triumphs and will have gained the trust of those prepared to take cramped odds. Hard to find any flaws in him.

2.00pm – The QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1)

Favourite: THE TIN MAN General odds: 100/30

The Tin Man is set to run in the Champions Sprint for the fourth time, having finished fourth, first and fifth in the past three renewals.

He has never gone off shorter than 13/2 in the past, but his growing fan club will have to settle for shorter odds this time after his fluent success in the 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock last time. Fine record at Ascot, versatile regards the ground and obvious form claims but there is plenty of depth to the opposition.

2.40pm – The QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1)

Favourite: LAH TI DAR General odds: 6/4

Lah Ti Dar lost her unbeaten record when runner-up to Kew Gardens in the William Hill St Leger last month but that was still a top-notch effort and, with more improvement on the cards, a bold bid looks on the cards.

However, her present odds look on the skinny side given the depth of the opposition. The first three home in last year’s running – Hydrangea, Bateel and Coronet – are on course to meet again, plus the first three home in last month’s Park Hill Stakes. Kitesurf, the Prix Vermeille winner, is another possible.

3.15pm – The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by QIPCO (Group 1)

Favourite: RECOLETOS General odds: 3/1

Recoletos started at 14-1 for the QIPCO Champion Stakes last year, when fourth to Cracksman, but he has shone back in distance this term and scooped two Group 1 prizes in his native France.

He looks a worthy favourite but nine other Group 1 winners remain entered and the mile division has proved difficult to predict this year. It looks like being a highly competitive renewal.

3.50pm – The QIPCO Champion Stakes (Group 1)

Favourites: ROARING LION/CRACKSMAN General odds: 2/1

The John Gosden-trained pair are on course to clash for the first time and the bookmakers are struggling to split them.

Cracksman went off the well-backed 13/8 favourite when he romped home by seven lengths in last year’s running – the only time in his past six races that he has not started odds-on.

His year younger stablemate, Roaring Lion, has won the Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International Stakes and QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes on his past three starts.

Each looking outstanding candidates, although they will not have it all their own way with such as Crystal Ocean, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes runner-up, among other intended runners.

4.30pm – The Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored by QIPCO)

Favourite: RAISING SAND General odds: 8/1

Lord Glitters obliged for favourite backers last year but at this stage it is difficult to predict who will head the market for the £250,000 mile handicap, which seems certain to attract a maximum field.

Raising Sand jumped to the head of the market with his decisive win at Ascot last Saturday. The 6lb penalty he picked up will guarantee him a place in the line-up, although he will have to overcome a career-high mark and stiff competition.