Tag Archives: Ascot

Champions Day (G1)

Poets Word finishing 2nd to Decorated Knight in the Irish Champion Stakes

Long Distance Cup

The ground will be soft, hardly surprising given the time of year. It won’t bother the favourite in the first, Order Of St George. He relished the conditions in this years Irish St Ledger winning by a commanding 9 L from Torcedor who once again can chase him home.

RecommendationOrder Of St George, Torcedor (SFC)

Sprint Stakes

Harry Angel won the Haydock Sprint Cup on heavy ground after taking the July Cup on good to firm. He was very impressive both times however you would be concerned that his three defeats were here at Ascot. Caravaggio beat him here in the Commonwealth Cup but has flopped twice since. In The July Cup and in the Prix Maurice De Gheest he looked a shadow of the horse he was in June. Aidan O’Brien has given him a confidence booster since with a win at at the Curragh over Irish Champions Weekend where he handled the soft ground. The speed factor wasn’t quite there though what was there was the stamina to see it out in the difficult conditions.

Recommendation: Harry Angel, Caravaggio (RFC)

Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes

Alyssa won the Park Hill at Doncaster at a big price on similar ground and again she’s priced here to have little chance. She stepping down in trip and that along with the ground in her favour could see her poised to spring another surprise.

Recommendation: Alyssa 20/1 e/w 

Queen Elizebeth 11 Stakes 

Lancaster Bomber could be the one to break the record for Aidan O’Brien if Caravaggio equals it. He’s been second at G1 level on four occasions. At 80/1 in places he’s the forgotten one again.

Recommendation: Lancaster Bomber 80/1 e/w 

Champion Stakes 

Poets Word is on the up and put in a great performance in the Irish equivalent of this when running second to Decorated Knight. His win in the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood showed his liking for soft ground and he can go one better than he did in Ireland.

Recommendation: Poets Word 7/1 win


Champions Stakes (Group 1)

The Two Year Old Free Eagle (8th September 2013)

The Two Year Old Free Eagle (8th September 2013)


The Three Year Old Free Eagle on the way out to win the Enterprise Stakes on Irish Champions Day

Oh how the Newmarket and Ascot teams must envy their Leopardstown and Curragh counterparts.

The Irish Champions weekend sits pretty in the racing calander on the second weekend in September. Three weeks before Lonchamp. Perfect. Sunny, warm good ground as near as can be guaranteed. The Irish weekend can only be viewed as a massive success. Poor England, one Group 1 more than the Irish weekend and some of the best races of the season to boot but it looks like it’s all come too late.

Racing is all about risk. When you go deep into October there’s more than an even chance that the animals who lit up the summer may have well have been stood down, retired, or more likely won’t risked on what’s fast becoming winter ground. If you are still around and have one more chance of glory the Santa Anita sun must look very appealing compared to wet and windy Ascot.

It’s a bit of a bummer but England’s big climax comes wrapped in dark skies with a touch of damp squid. Today, Future Champions Day saw all three favourites turned over in the Group 1’s at Newmarket. No doubt come next year we’ll be told it was because they didn’t handle the wet dank conditions of late autumn. Bad ground the culprit.

As for tomorrow, Champions Day is alas without “the big name”. The two stars of the season Kingman and Australia have moved on for what for then will be more interesting pursuits leaving us the racing public hoping their prodigy will prove equally as exciting. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if …… let’s not go there.

The race and day can still provide a horse worthy of the title Champion.

There’s Cirrus Des Aigles. We forgotten how good he really is, familiarity breeding it own contempt.  If he’d been an entire he would be viewed as a superstar. Form says he’d have won the Arc a couple of weeks ago, he beat Treve in The Ganay in April (before any ailments) and accounted for Flintshire in the Coronation Cup in June sandwiching in the Prix D’Ispahan in May. His marvellous trainer Corine Barande-Barbe put him away for a crack at a fourth Prix Dollar which he won only to be denied in the Lonchamp stewards room. He’s an absolutely wonderful horse, a winner of this in 2011 from So You Think, he only went down to Frankel in 2012 and Farhh in 2013. Throw in the Meyden win over St Nicholas Abbey in the 2012 Sheema Classic and don’t forget the second to Gentledonna this year. What a horse. Wouldn’t you like to read his biography.

He’s opposed by Frankel’s brother Noble Mission. He’s become a man this year. A double Group I winner beating Magician in the Tattersall’s Gold Cup and benefiting from the disqualification of Spirit Jim in the Grand Prix De Saint Cloud  (he looked a winner 100 yards out only to tire in the final strides). We haven’t seen him since a trip to Munich in July where Lucky Lion (conqueror of Sea The Moon) got the better of him in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis.

Ruler Of The World, last years Derby winner looked back to his best in his Arc warm up, the Prix Foy where he displayed a sharp turn of foot to overcome Flintshire. In the Arc itself as the year before the cards didn’t fall right for him. Bumped at the start he was forced to race prominently only to fall away at the business end. He’s so much a better horse when he’s held up and can come from behind. He needs something to attack and coming off the pace is his strength.

Western Hymn is capable if not top drawer. Not seen since August at Deauville when behind Gailo Chop he was a winner of the Prix Eugene Adam over 10f at Maisions Laffitte on soft ground. No doubt John Gosden has targeted this as his chief aim.

The wonderfully named Sheikhzayedroad keeps stepping up for David Simcock. The York Stakes winner in July went to Woodbine coming home with the Northern Dancer Trophy on the plane. This will require another big leap up the ladder. Al Kazeem has already been up the ladder landing three top G’1 s last year. His return from stud duties to earn a crust on the racecourse is well worth the try and next year he may have forgotten about all those mares he was introduced to.

Roger Varian has had a magnificent season but even he won’t be dreaming tonight of victory for Ayrad. Pether’s Moon is proven on the soft having won in Veliefendi then keeping up the good work beating Parish Hall in the Cumberland Lodge here two weeks ago.

A somewhat unknown quantity here is Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle. Considered massively talented as a two year old he went to Leopardstown going off odds on to beat Australia having already been installed Derby favourite on the back of what looked like a cracking maiden win. He got beat 6L leaving his trainer head scratching though it’s clear he wasn’t right.  A setback in the spring ruled him out of the Derby picture and we had to wait a whole year to see him again. This time he was the 7L winner. Granted the opposition didn’t include Australia, Dermot wisely not throwing him straight back in the deep end instead allowing him find his feet in a more gentle reintroduction to back to the racecourse. He was mighty impressive.

What strikes you about the two pictures above is Pat Smullen’s expression. Caring and tender looking after a two year old turns to killer steel on the mature three year old. No longer raw you can see Pat means business and has complete confidence in this fella. His look will be no different if, and it’s still a big if, Dermot gives him the leg up tomorrow. The plan is to walk the course in the morning before the final decision is made.

Let’s hope for the thumbs up so we get the chance to see the next equine champion.

Recommendation : Free Eagle 3/1 win

If he doesn’t run Ruler Of The World coming from off the pace can chin Cirrus Des Aigles.

The King George And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Group 1)

Ground is a the major factor here.

Ascot got a dumping on the eve of this, the centrepiece of the British flat racing season. A race that some had thought had lost its lustre has been restored over the last few year’s. German thoroughbred’s have had a hand to play with Dandredream and Novelist playing no small part.

Today is about the excitement generated by the John Gosden filly, Taghrooda, set to be crowned the new The Fugue. If she win’s this she’ll wear the mantle lightly.

Her Oaks victory was a commanding performance, never in doubt she wrote class all over it yet the step up here is a brave move not only for her trainer but for owner too. Hamdan Al Maktoum silks have made a welcome return to the Group 1 circle lately but to put out want may be an absolutely talented but inexperienced filly into this company is some statement of intent.

You could argue there’s a hole on the incline in the road. The filly second at Epsom, Tarfasha, ran poorly at the Curragh last weekend although Volume threw in a tough and honest run to uphold the form when holding on to be third.

That’s the thing about throwing a three year old filly into the bear pit against the older males. She might get scared of them and let then dominate her through sheer inexperience or she might hold them like putty in her hand, a thing to play with till she decides to show them how it’s done.

These boy’s are no mugs, there led by Telescope the impressive winner of the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot over the same trip last month. If you had a horse like him with the potential he showed you would feel very comfortable that patience would be rewarded. His trainer Sir Michel Stoute can do master classes in how to turn near misses into block busters. His general level of form says nearly but his last run suggested superstar.

There’s another hot three year old in the hands of John Gosden. Eagle Top destroyed Adelaide in the King Edward VII over this trip. He’s unknown to us in reality when we’re talking this level and fit’s into the category of could be anything.

Magician hasn’t given us that Breeders Cup moment this year though that’s benchmarked against a 1 3/4 L downing to The Fugue at Ascot. Trading Leather this year is considered a bit last year in the fashion sense. That doesn’t mean he can’t still dress for the big occasion. Jim Bolger call’s it on himself and while the first run was trainer error the second was just beaten by a better horse.

Between the Oaks and this the meat in the sandwich is the Eclipse. Mukhadram is considered to have got the better of the field when the pilot’s were asleep at the back but that denies the truth of his authoritative performance. He took it on and burned a hole in all bar Trading Leather who battled to try to create a fight.

Romsdal brings the Derby form to the contest, (and a shiver to the spine if you thought of Australia being here). He was only beaten 4 1/2L at Epsom.

If Taghrooda is as good as she looked at Epsom then she’s the one to beat but back to where we started, the ground.

These are horses who so far have shown a preference for a quick surface to show their best and finger’s crossed that’s what we’ll get but if the thunderstorms appear and with the word soft appearing in the going description then a horse who can win a Curragh maiden in October by 6 L as a two year old on heavy ground shouldn’t be discounted.

Recommendation : Magician win 5/1 win



The Champion Stakes (Group 1)

Aidan will be in action at Ascot for Champions Day

Aidan will be in action at Ascot for Champions Day

Massive day’s racing at Ascot with the 3rd instalment of Champions Day.

There’s been some criticism of staging Britain’s richest days racing so late in the season but it does bring the show down in a massive crescendo. The downside is the ground is always more likely to have turned at this time of the year. Soft even heavy may be the description come post time tomorrow.

The feature is the Champions Stakes over 10f. We’ve also got the Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes over a mile, the Fillies and Mares Champion Stakes over 10f with all three carrying Group 1 status . The undercard features the G3 Champions Long Distance Cup and the G2 Champions Sprint Stakes.

All in all a day to rival Paris two weeks ago.

The Long Distance Cup

In the Cup The Queens Estimate will of course be all the rage. We haven’t seen her since the Gold Cup where she brought the house down with her emotional victory over Willie Mullins Melbourne Cup bound Simenon. She’ll have to go from G/F to handling soft to win this. There’s also a suspicion this is a better field than in June with the likes of Harris Tweed, Ahzeemah, Eye Of The Storm and Royal Diamond in the mix. It’s been won by the Irish the last two years and Dermot Weld who won with Rite Of Passage last year could surprise again with Pale Mimosa. His unexposed 4 year old last year won a maiden at Galway on heavy ground by 15L.

Recommendation : Pale Mimosa 16/1 EW

The Sprint

Another strong Irish challenge in the Sprint with Balmont Mast, Cape Of Approval, Slade Power, Viztoria and Maarek. The latter is defending the title and showed himself in rattling good form when slicing through the field to win the Abbaye in Paris two weeks ago. That was over 5f and should have him spot on for this 6f trip. However we’ll give Eddie Lynam’s Viztoria another chance stepping back from 7 f where she did well to be only 5 L behind Moonlight Cloud in Prix de La Floret.

Recommendation : Viztoria 13/2 win

The Fillies And Mares

The Fillies and Mares is an open contest. The market rates the nine runner field between 4/1 and 16/1. Again recent Paris form looks hot. Dalkala won the Prix De L’Opera getting her nose in front of Tasaday on the line. Talent the Oaks winner ran well in the St Leger while Oaks third The Lark won the Park Hill where Seal Of Approval clipped heels and fell at the Doncaster meeting. Belle De Crecy got the better of Hot Snap at the Curragh in the Blansford while Waila was a 10L winner of a Newmarket Listed race in July. Mike De Kock’s Igugu was a superstar at home in South Africa but hasn’t translated that at Meyden or Sha Tin at the beginning of the year. In prep for this she ran second in a listed race three weeks ago suggesting her form is there to come back. The German raider Nymphea is attractive. A Group 1 winner in the Preiss Von Berlin where she beat Temida 3 L who previously was a G1 winner herself in the Preis Von Bayern.

Recommendation : Nymphea 12/1 EW

The Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes

Dawn Approach has been given a rest since the Jacques Le Marois where he trailed in 8L behind Moonlight Cloud. He’d come out of a hard race with Toronado in the Sussex Stakes and can be forgiven the run. Maxios saw off Olympic Glory in the Prix Du Moulin by 5 L who’d run an absolute cracker to be a short head behind Moonlight Cloud in the Jacques Le Marois. Kingsbarns was one of the ante post favourites for the Guineas through the winter on the back of his Racing Post victory. He was pulled up in the Irish Champion Stakes but the fact that Aidan puts him in is significant. The Godolphin Mile winner Soft Falling Rain can’t be ruled out but he’s never encountered ground like this before.

Recommendation : Kingsbarns 16/1 EW

The Champion Stakes

The main dish sees a rejuvenated Cirrus Des Aigles come back to go one better than his second to Frankel last year to add to his win in 2011. We doubted him through a poor campaign but his trainer Corine Barande-Barbe kept telling us to be patient, that he was on the way back and in the Prix Dollar he put in a performance to vindicate her view. Farhh makes a welcome return from injury. Last seen when winning  the Lockinge in May it will be a wonderful training feat to bookend the season with two Group 1’s. His stable companion Hunter’s Light has some form on the ground having won in heavy in Italy last year as does Morandi who was also was winner at top level on a heavy surface as a two year old.  The Derby winner Ruler Of The World hit a pocket in the Arc and did well to finish seventh considering the run wasn’t clean. He looked sharp the previous run before that in the Prix Neil when the bob of a head separated him from Kizuna. Like Viztoria he’s worth another chance.

Recommendation : Ruler Of The World 8/1 EW