10 to follow ahead of QIPCO British Champions Day
9 Aug 2021
The countdown to QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on October 16 is on after last week’s initial entries for the five glittering pattern races on the card.
Winners of 90 Group 1s and 16 European Classics are among the entries for Britain’s richest race day at Ascot, which this year offers prize money of £4 million. Below are ten horses – some obvious, others not so obvious – who could make a big impact come the big day.
1 ART POWER
Age: 4. Trainer: Tim Easterby. Race: QIPCO British Champions Sprint
Art Power has run in four QIPCO British Champions Series races over 6f in the past year and finished 4434; never being beaten far on any occasion.
His connections must be growing a little concerned that he might never hit the jackpot but he clearly has a soft spot for Ascot and it would be folly to underestimate him on October 16.
An emphatic winner at Royal Ascot last year, he also ran a cracker at the meeting this year when third in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes despite racing solo at then head of affairs for much of the way. And in between, he contested last year’s Champions Sprint, being beaten just a length into fourth after racing a little too exuberantly.
Age: 3. Trainer: William Haggas. Race: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO)
Unraced as a two-year-old, Baaeed did not make his debut until June 7 of this year, but he is quickly making up for lost time.
The Sea The Stars colt has won his four races by an aggregate of about 20 lengths without being anything like fully extended. He breezed home by 6½ lengths in the Group 3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood last time, having previously landed the Listed Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes by four lengths at Newmarket.
He’s shown great acceleration, plus has proven himself on fast ground and softish going.
Age: 3. Trainer: Roger Varian. Race: QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes
Eshaada is a daughter of Muhaarar, the champion sprinter who helped light up Champions Day in 2015. She possesses far more stamina than her sire, though, and is unlucky not to be unbeaten in three starts at up to 1m4f.
She showed a good attitude to win her first two races – a mile maiden at Nottingham and a 1m2f Listed contest at Newbury. The ground was soft on each occasion.
On her most recent start, she lost her 100 per cent record when runner-up in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. She didn’t get the rub of the green and might have won with better fortune. Despite her inexperience, she’s already got an official rating of 108 and no winners of this race has been rated above 116.
4 MC MULDOON
Age: 6. Trainer: Willie Mullins. Race: QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup
The grey was a fluent winner over hurdles at the Galway Festival last month but do not discount him possibly switching back to the Flat, and going one better than the stable’s Thomas Hobson, who was runner-up in the 2018 Long Distance Cup.
Before his win at Galway, MC Muldoon had shown he has more to offer on the level when runner-up in the Ascot Stakes over 2½ miles at the Royal Meeting in June. He looked an unlucky loser, all but getting up after travelling strongly off the pace.
That was off a handicap mark of 96 and he will clearly need to raise his game, but it was his first run on the Flat for Mullins and he hinted he had a lot more to offer. He has shown his form on ground ranging between firm and heavy.
5 PALACE PIER
Age: 4. Trainer: John & Thady Gosden. Race: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) or QIPCO Champion Stakes
The highest-rated horse trained in Britain, who boasts an official rating of 125, has lost only one of his nine races and chalked up four Group 1 triumphs, all of them over a mile on going ranging between good to firm and heavy.
Last year, the Kingman colt won the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot plus the Jacques le Marois at Deauville. And this campaign he has enhanced his reputation with successive victories in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, at Newbury, and Queen Anne Stakes, back at Royal Ascot.
His one defeat came when third in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last year. His exploits over a mile speak for themselves but John Gosden has not discounted stepping him up to a mile and a quarter.
Age: 3. Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Race: QIPCO Champion Stakes or QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
There has been wind, rain and sunshine on Champions Day over the years but never snowfall. The executive at Ascot will be hoping it stays that way, although they would welcome the filly of the same name with open arms.
Snowfall has been a revelation this season, completing the English/Irish Oaks double in spectacular style. She won by a record16 lengths at Epsom and then followed up by 8½ at The Curragh.
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe now seems a likely target but Aidan O’Brien has often run horses at the Arc meeting and then at Ascot, including Found who was runner-up in the QIPCO Champion Stakes in 2016 only 13 days after winning the Arc itself.
7 ST MARK’S BASILICA
Age: 3. Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Race: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) or QIPCO Champion Stakes
He was crowned the champion two-year-old in Europe last season and after three successive Group 1 triumphs this year heads the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings with an official rating of 127.
St Mark’s Basilica has shone over a mile as well as a mile and a quarter this season. The Siyouni colt had the distinction of giving Aidan O’Brien his first French 2000 Guineas victory and then, for an encore, provided the master trainer with his first French Derby success. He followed those wins with a convincing defeat of Addeybb and Mishriff in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park.
All five of St Mark’s Basilica’s wins have been achieved with the word “soft” somewhere in the going description.
8 THE REVENANT
Age: 6. Trainer: Francis-Henri Graffard Race: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO)
French-trained runners have merited a second look in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes since the first Champions Day in 2011. From just nine runners, they have enjoyed three winners, a runner-up and a third placing.
The Revenant has played his part, chasing home King Of Change in the 2019 renewal before going one better last year. He again impressed with the way he travelled 12 months ago, when he was chalking up his tenth win from 13 starts.
This year, he has suffered successive defeats in his native France but on each occasion he was conceding weight to the opposition. He seems in his element when the mud is flying.
Age: 5. Trainer: Alan King. Race: QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup.
The longest race on QIPCO British Champions Day has provided some of the closest finishes, with Royal Diamond (2013) and Kew Gardens (2019) each prevailing by a nose. That was not the case last year, though, when Trueshan ran his rivals into submission under Hollie Doyle. The combination won by seven-and-a-half lengths – a record distance for any race on Champions Day.
Trueshan’s prospects of becoming the first two-time winner of the race look bright after his convincing success in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup last month, when he was strong at the finish and won by almost four lengths from Away He Goes. He is versatile regards the ground but seems well served by some give underfoot.
10 WONDERFUL TONIGHT
Age: 4. Trainer: David Menuisier. Race: QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes or QIPCO Champion Stakes
David Menuisier had never trained an Ascot winner before Wonderful Tonight’s superb success in the Fillies & Mares Stakes last year. What better way to break your duck than in one of the biggest Group 1 races of the year?
The Prix De L’Arc de Triomphe has been a long-term target but that need not preclude Wonderful Tonight from defending her crown on Champions Day, or even dropping in trip for the QIPCO Champion Stakes. She thrives on racing and her win last year came just a fortnight after a Group 1 success on testing going at the Arc meeting.
Wonderful Tonight picked up from where she left off by winning the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot before following up in the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood.