Champions Day at Ascot is one of the highlights of the flat season with four Group 1’s on the six-race card. The ground was described as soft on Friday morning with no further rain forecast before or during racing.
In the Gp 1 sprint Dream Of Dreams (1.55) can cement his place as the champion sprinter by building on his impressive win at Haydock last time under similar conditions. The six-year-old has taken his form to a new level this year finishing runner up in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over today’s C&D before winning his next couple of starts including in Group 1 company last time.
The selection has good course form, but it is worth noting that he has finished down the field in the last couple of renewals of this particular contest finishing 16th of 17 and 13th of 20. That said he has won in November before so we cannot argue that his form simply tails off in the autumn. He is by far the most likely winner although that has not been lost by the layers given, he is a best price of 2/1.
The unbeaten Palace Pier has been one of the stars of the flat season and his narrow, but comprehensive, wins in the St James’s Palace Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois earmark him the one to beat in the QEII. The three -year-old is odds on – best price 4/6 – for this championship mile race and I feel French raider The Revenant (3.05) will give the Gosden three-year-old plenty to think about and is an each way alternative.
The selection – 9/2 with Boylesports – finished runner up in the corresponding race 12 months ago when he met trouble when starting his run and then found the winner King Of Change weaving in front of him as he went to make his challenge. The five-year-old was not seen on the track for 350 days prior to landing the odds in a Group 2 at Longchamp on Arc weekend and that should have put him spot on for today’s clash.
Mishriff (3.40) is unbeaten in three starts as a three-year-old including in the French Derby back in July and he is taken to land the feature Champion Stakes despite having to overcome a poor draw in stall nine. Frankie Dettori was in the saddle when the colt was beaten in a moderate Newbury maiden 12 months ago but pair were reunited for the first time at Deauville in August when the colt confirmed the French derby form in no uncertain manner. Connections bypassed the Arc – would have needed to be supplemented for the race – to wait for Ascot and after he should be fresher than most of his rivals.
Last year’s winner Magical has been a superstar for Aidan O’Brien and is a worthy favourite, but I think Pyledriver might be the biggest danger dropping back n trip having looked a non-stayer in the Leger last time. This is a terrific renewal of this famous and prestigious race.
My two against the field in the Balmorral Handicap are Tempus and King Ottakar (4.15) who regular readers will know is a cliff horse of mine. I vowed never to support the horse again after he pulled too hard at Windsor on his penultimate start, but he ran an eye-catching race at Doncaster last time dropped to a mile and this soft ground ought to suit. I hope high numbers hold sway – they did not last year on similar ground – and he gets the each way vote at 15/2 with William Hill who are betting five places.
At Market Rasen Copperless (2.46) bumped into a smart novice in the shape of Stoner’s Choice at Perth last month and he can go one better in the maiden hurdle for Olly Murphy. The selection was well held on his hurdles debut, but is entitled to come on for the experience and the winner followed up at Carlisle earlier in the week and is potentially smart if he can brush up his hurdling.
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