This Saturday brings to an end what has been a phenomenal season of flat racing, whilst welcoming what is sure to be an equally sublime jumps season.
There is no better day to be a punter, as Ascot welcomes ‘the best in the business’ to Qipco British Champions Day, whilst Cheltenham hosts a number of quality races to warm up for the season ahead.
The action at Ascot is due to get underway at 13.45 with the Champions Long Distance Cup. The Queen’s horse, Estimate, is currently leading the market and Paddy Power are offering the best price of 2/1.
She is 3 from 3 here following her Gold Cup win last time out and whilst the ground is likely to suit, another Royal win looks a strong possibility.
Eye Of The Storm and Ahzeemah are the likely challengers to the favourite, with A P O’Brien’s colt coming here on the back of two wins. This is sure to be harder, but with further progress expected, he cannot be ruled out.
And neither can Godolphin’s ultra-consistent 4-year-old who finished second in the Irish St.Leger last time out and has not finished outside the top two for over a year.
He had Saddler’s Rock, Royal Diamond and Pale Mimosa behind on that occasion.
The Sprint Stakes over 6f is the second race of the day, with 2012 winner Maarek the bookies’ favourite. Barry Lalor’s 6-year-old comes here fresh off the back of his Prix de l’Abbaye win and looks the one to beat.
The 6/1 shot Slade Power finished well behind last year, however he has form claims if improving his performance on this course. Jack Dexter finished third in the Ayr Gold Cup and should run well. He is 4/1 with most firms.
Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1)
Class act, Talent is 7/2 favourite to land the Fillies & Mares Stakes over the 1m4f. She has ran fantastically this season and the cut in the ground is sure to suit. A fantastic Oaks win was followed up by a triumphant second in the Leger and on that form, she is difficult to oppose.
Dalkala landed a career best when winning a Group 1 latest and she is likely to run another big race here. Hot Snap and The Lark are two more who can compete if at their best.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Sponsored By Qipco) (British Champions Mile) (Group 1)
Following that race is another Group 1 contest, the Champions Mile. Dawn Approach is the likely market leader, with Boylesports and
Paddy Power offering 5/2 for a return to form victory.
He can be excused for his latest defeat and most of these will find it very difficult to compete with the 2,000 Guineas winner.
Maxios should give a good account, whilst Olympic Glory is another who cannot be ruled out under jockey Richard Hughes.
Qipco Champion Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) (Group 1)
The Qipco Champion Stakes is the final Group 1 race of the day and the top class Cirrus Des Aigles is currently 11/8 market leader with BetVictor.
He was the highest rated horse in the world in early 2013 following the retirement of Frankel, before some bad races which resulted in a winless run of almost a year.
He has looked back to near his best in his last two runs and another similar performance will almost certainly result in another victory for the 7-year-old.
Godolphin’s Farhh never fails to run well and has been ultra-consistent for some time now. He won the Lockinge back in May, which puts him in very strong contention.
Derby winner, Ruler Of The World is another who cannot be ruled out at 8/1 with Coral , whilst Triple Threat has been kept especially for this shorter race, representing decent value at 15/1.
The final race of the meeting is the Qipco Future Stars Apprentice Handicap which is sure to be extremely competitive to say the least. It is a great value race, although punters will certainly find it a tricky one.
William Hill’s 10/1 favourite Breton Rock has won 3-6 and Sir Reginald and Balty Boys are two more who make appeal in an extraordinary race.
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