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A decade of Champions: 10 Top Series performances

28 Apr 2021

This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of QIPCO British Champions Series, which begins with the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket Racecourse this Saturday.

QIPCO British Champions Series showcases 35 of the UK’s finest Flat races, including three of the world’s top 10 and last year’s world’s best in the Juddmonte International at York.

Below we have picked out some of the finest performances from a decade of QIPCO British Champions Series.

Frankel – 2011 QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket

10 years of the QIPCO British Champion Series could hardly have got off to a more exhilarating start, could it? Just listen to Newmarket commentator Ian Bartlett’s rising sense of incredulity as one of the most spectacular Classic victories any of us is ever likely to witness unfolded before him. “At halfway Frankel is almost ten lengths clear…. At the bushes Frankel is 15 lengths clear….. Inside the last furlong a horse who is pure class, Frankel has destroyed them from halfway. An amazing performance.”

Camelot – 2012 Investec Derby at Epsom

Camelot had earlier been brave over an inadequate distance in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas. Nobody was at all surprised when he justified cramped odds in the Investec Derby with complete authority in the hands of young Joseph O’Brien, winning eased down by five lengths from Main Edition.

Toronado – 2013 Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood

Richard Hannon Sr. had three top-class three-year-old milers in his final season with a licence. Sky Lantern won the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes and Olympic Glory ended the year with a deserved Group 1 win in the QEII Stakes, but pride of place went to Toronado for that memorable defeat of 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero Dawn Approach in Goodwood’s Qatar Sussex Stakes.

It was the pair’s third meeting of the year and it well and truly lived up to its inevitable billing as the ‘Duel on the Downs’, Toronado being delivered late and wide by Goodwood’s master tactician Richard Hughes after Dawn Approach had been committed first. Toronado had to work hard to get upsides, but he edged ahead well inside the final furlong and was firmly on top at the line.

Kingman – 2014 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot

There was unfinished business to settle when Kingman met Night Of Thunder in the St James’s Palace Stakes. It had been a tactically unsatisfactory QIPCO 2000 Guineas in which the Richard Hannon colt, who had been trounced by Kingman in the Greenham, had caused a 40-1 upset by beating him half a length, and while Night Of Thunder was plainly a high-class miler Kingman’s subsequent easy win in the Irish equivalent had underlined the sense of injustice some had felt after Newmarket.

The rematch on Ascot’s round mile settled matters once and for all, for Kingman showed a devastating change of gear to win as he pleased. Subsequent wins in the Qatar Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques Le Marois confirmed him a miler of the very highest class.

Golden Horn – 2015 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park

Frankie Dettori faced a different tactical challenge when the Investec Derby winner went on to Sandown Park, and in the absence of an obvious pacemaker he felt obliged to make the running himself.

It was clear he had a battle on his hands when Jamie Spencer moved The Grey Gatsby upsides him starting up the straight, seemingly going every bit as well, and for the best part of three furlongs there was very little in it. However, Golden Horn began to assert at last approaching the furlong marker, and he ultimately drew clear.

Minding – 2016 Investec Oaks at Epsom

Superstar filly Minding lit up the 2016 Series with wins bookending the season in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO), however it was her win in the Investec Oaks that will go down as one of her most memorable. It wasn’t the distance of the win, but more the nature of the win that was most impressive.

Travelling in midfield, Minding encountered numerous traffic problems after rounding Tattenham Corner and found herself shuffled back to the rear of the field. Remaining cool, jockey Ryan Moore found a gap and asked the three-year-old filly to pick up. Pick up she did, eating into the ground she had lost, eventually overhauling runaway leader, Architecture by 1 ¾ lengths at the line.

Harry Angel – 2017 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock Park

The weather leading up to the 2017 32Red Sprint Cup was so wet that the Haydock authorities took the unusual step of bringing the race forward on the card to ensure that it wasn’t run on the very worst of the ground.

The Darley July Cup winner’s participation remained in some doubt nevertheless, as he had broken the track record at Haydock earlier in the year and clearly relished fast ground, but his connections’ decision to let him take his chance was gloriously rewarded with a stunning four-length defeat of Tasleet, after making all. It was rated the best sprint performance in the world that year.

Roaring Lion – 2018 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) at QIPCO British Champions Day

A fitting end to what had been a fantastic 2018 for Qatar Racing’s leading light. Roaring Lion had been a not-far-beaten fifth in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, before an even bigger run to finish third in the Investec Derby, but truly never looked back from there.

Victories in the Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International and Irish Champion Stakes before a gutsy performance in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) rounded off a truly golden summer for both the horse and his young pilot Oisin Murphy. On ground not to his liking, the son of Kitten’s Joy gamely fought his way to the front late on to secure a thoroughly deserved victory.

Enable – 2019 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes at Ascot

Enable might have failed in her bid to become the first three-time winner of the Arc, but she stands alone as the only horse to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes three times. She was impressive when following her Investec Oaks and Irish Oaks wins by storming home four and a half lengths clear of the older Ulysses as a three-year-old, and she won by an even wider margin from Sovereign in a three-runner renewal as a six-year-old, but it’s her neck defeat of Crystal Ocean in 2019 that is likely to linger longest in the memory.

Both horses arrived at Ascot following recent defeats of Magical and a classic head-to-head between two outstanding middle-distance horses was a mouth-watering proposition. We weren’t disappointed either, as they had a tremendous duel before Enable just got the better of the argument in the last 100 yards.

Ghaiyyath – 2020 Juddmonte International Stakes at York

Ghaiyyath’s Coral-Eclipse defeat of Enable was among the highlights of 2020, but he looked even better at York the following month in the Juddmonte International. In what was a small but highly select field, he made every yard in his usual free-going style and came home in style up the middle of the track to score by three lengths and more from rivals as distinguished as Magical, Lord North and Kameko, none of whom ever quite threatened to get on terms.

It was a fabulous performance and one that saw him recognised as the clear number one in the Longines World’s Best Racehorses Rankings, rated 130.