Get this Guardian Angel Harry on side for Champions Day
20 Oct 2017
It’s been a long, but very enjoyable Champions Series this year. And as ever the season finale of Champions Day will close the show in spectacular fashion with the best of the best lining up against each other to compete for £4.3 Million in prize money. Let’s take a look at a fantastic card to finish off the year.
As I said, the prize money on Champions Day is a huge draw for all the top owners and trainers, and no race is a better example of that then the £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes which looks a really strong race. When you look at the likes of Brametot who has all that good form to his name- who is likely to go off 4th or 5th in betting, you know it’s a good cast. Poet’s Word is interesting, he was 2nd in an Irish Champion Stakes which is a very highly rated race.
The favourite Cracksman deserves his place at the head of the market, he’s improved huge amounts and comes off the back of a couple of good looking victories. However, I wouldn’t swap anything in the race for Richard Hannon‘s Barney Roy. He is the standout horse who has been at this level, proven himself and the fact that he’s won at this track is another big bonus to his chances tomorrow. Some may have concerns about the ground for him having not raced on proper soft ground before. However, he did run well at York when it was a bit slower, and he’s by Excelebration, and out of a Galileo mare so he should be more than able to handle it. He’d be my pick for the Champion.
Arguably the best race on a brilliant card is the QIPCO Sprint Stakes which has been a very exciting category throughout the Series. Obviously this revolves around the fantastic Harry Angel who has blown away the opposition, most recently in the Haydock Sprint Cup. His main rival in the market, Caravaggio, has reportedly been working very well at home, but he’ll need to be at a career best if he’s going to beat Harry Angel who has just got better and better as the year has gone on.
Too much has been made of the ‘Ascot Factor’ for Harry Angel. He ran to a very high speed figure when beaten in the Royal meeting, and things perhaps didn’t go right for him that day. He’s a horse I really like and is probably still improving with each run. He’ll be very hard to beat in this. Of the others Quiet Reflection did it well in Ireland the other day, she gets 2lbs off the colts here which I don’t think will be enough. The Tin Man always saves his best for Ascot but he needs Harry Angel, and Caravaggio for that matter, to under perform if he is going to win this again- though you can only sit back and admire how James Fanshawe has handled this horse.
My only ride on Champions Day will be on Lightning Spear for David Simcock. I couldn’t be more pleased with how the draw has turned out for this. Ribchester is drawn 13, Beat The Bank 12 and my guy is in 14- so realistically I’m going to be following the right ones. I’d be very surprised if Ribchester didn’t go forward early on, that’s where he runs his best races and I think William Buick will use his stride early. Obviously Lightning Spear has a bit to find to win this, but he ran a career best in this race last year and of the horses at a bigger price then the market principles he looks to have a good each way chance. The ground isn’t too much of a factor for those at the top of the market, they all have form on softer going so that won’t be an excuse-may the best horse win!
Yet another strong race on the card is the QIPCO Long Distance Cup. It’s unbelievable that this race isn’t a Group 1, to be honest. When you look at the card there’s a lot of Group 1 horses, with the likes of Order Of St George, Big Orange, Stradivarius and Desert Skyline all recent winners at the top level. Dartmouth is 12/1 in the market and he’s a Yorkshire Cup winner! One man who would certainly love this to be a Group 1 is Aidan O’Brien, who will look to break Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group 1 wins in a season on Champions Day.
That’s because Order Of St George really should win this. He’s got the best form in the book and is a very tough horse. Fourth in this race last year , he’s had an extra week’s break from the Arc compared to 2016. He’ll be very tough to beat. Big Orange‘s main concern will be the going, his connections clearly feel that he’s best on fast ground. He is by Duke Of Marmalade and has winning form on soft ground so isn’t without a chance if it does turn.
Stradivarius is a highly rated horse who is still on the up. I followed his run in the St Leger and it looked as if he could do with more distance. I wish I was riding Duretto for Andrew Balding, he’s in good form at home and is a horse on the up.
The girls take centre stage in the QIPCO Fillies & Mares Stakes. With the downpour of rain, there looks to have been a downpour of money for the French raider Bateel, who is now heading the market at around 5/2. I’m not convinced however that she has the strongest form in the book here. I feel that there’s a few in this race who are being overlooked slightly.
Hydrangea might have had a very busy season in 2017, but she’s bred to get the trip and she’s a very tough horse and I expect her trainer to have a right for this. Journey comes here as the defending champion, but she has a difficult task to retain her crown here having not quite found her best level of form this season and may be vulnerable. Coronet would be another who has put some good form together, and also has an Ascot win to her name.
Last on the card is the Balmoral Handicap. It’s an intriguing race as ever which attracts horses that are on the up, as well as some of the seasoned handicappers competing for a very big prize pot. Looking at the more unexposed types and you have Accidental Agent. He’s been very admirably campaigned by his trainer and could go close at a good price.
Zabeel Prince is a worthy favourite for Roger Varian. He ran to a very high figure last time and will relish the cut in the ground. Lord Glitters is a very expensive recruit for David O’Meara and he could recoup some of the money paid for him in this.