Saturday 16th October 2021
Author: Jordan Yates
Champions Day 2021
A big welcome to my preview for this year’s Champions Day at Ascot, I’ll be kicking off with the opener at 1:25 which is the Long Distance Cup, a Group 2 contest over a mile and seven furlongs. Trueshan will be obviously tough to beat here and is the most likely winner, however, I’m going with more heart than head here and siding with Stradivarius for Dettori and the Gosdens. He’s one of my all-time favourite horses and I can’t desert him now, and he’s certainly not without a chance. He got firmly put in his place the last day by the market leader in France, however, he’s still won three times this season and a return back to this track where he has had some of his best days could well light the fire once more. It will certainly be the most popular winner on the day.
Moving onto the second race on the card which comes up at 2:00 and this is the Champion Sprint Stakes over six-furlongs. The first Group 1 of the afternoon and there’s actual two of them I fancy here. The first is another favourite of mine and that’s the Tim Easterby trained Art Power who’s the mount of Silvestre De Sousa. Now, SDS is known for not having the best of records at Ascot, which is something to bear in mind if you are following here, however, that isn’t the case for his mount who’s a course and distance winner. He’d been set some tough assignments over the last twelve months and had run creditably in them without getting his head in-front, he bounced back though with an ease in grade on his most recent outing when he dismantled a Group 3 field at the Curragh by five lengths. The other one I’ve taken alliance with here is Minzaal for Owen Burrows and Jim Crowley, this three-year-old son of Mehmas was a smart two-year-old having won the Gimcrack before finishing third in the Middle Park. He’s clearly had some issues which kept him off track until he reappeared in a listed race here earlier in the month where he finished second to course specialist Tis Marvellous. I think that was an ideal prep for this assignment and if he doesn’t bounce as a result of the absence I think he’s got every chance of making his presence felt here.
Next up at 2:35 is more Group 1 action in the form of the Fillies & Mares Stakes which is contested over a mile and four furlongs. Snowfall is currently the odds-on favourite here and the one they all have to beat on the current ratings. I’m actually going to try and take her on though and I’m doing that with Albaflora who represents Ralph Beckett and Rossa Ryan. Whilst the market leader arrives here off the back of a grueling race in the Arc a few weeks back, Beckett’s charge has had a break since finishing four lengths second to Snowfall at York in August in the Yorkshire Oaks. She obviously has a bit of work to do to reduce the margin of those four lengths, however, I think there could still be a bit of progression in here where as maybe Snowfall had reached her peak earlier in the year.
It’s the QEII stakes at 3:15, a Group 1 race that’s contested over a mile and this is a race that has an illustrious list of previous winners. In this year’s renewal it’s all about Palace Pier for me who represents the all-conquering combination of Frankie Dettori and the Gosdens. He was beaten in this race last year when things didn’t go to plan and he lost a shoe early on, however, since then he’s won all four of his outings which included the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes here at the Royal meetings. He’s probably got his toughest assignment to date today to see off the exciting Baeed who could still prove to be a superstar, but the Gosden charge is a proven top-level miler and I think he’ll be more than up to the task. If you looking for one at a bigger price I think The Revenant could be the each-way play in the race, he won the race last year and despite not being at his best so far this season he was unlucky not to win the last day and will have no problem with the surface.
The race that many will look forward to the most on Champions Day is the Champion Stakes and that takes centre-stage at 3:50. Derby and King George winner Adayar has been supplemented by connections and will be a massive player once again here, but I’m going to be siding with Mishriff to gain revenge for his defeat to the Godolphin runner in the King George here earlier in the season. Since then the Gosden four-year-old put in what I and many others believe was the performance of the season when he won the Juddmonte International at York by six lengths, and it’s hard to say how much the hard race that Adayar had in France in a testing Arc will have taken out of him. It’s all set up for a classic clash of which I think Mishriff can certify himself as one of the best racehorses of his generation.
Concluding the meeting is the Balmoral Handicap at 4:30 which is a Class 2 affair over the straight mile. I think this can also go to the Gosden’s with Sunray Major who sneaks into the race here at the bottom of the weights. He’s been mightily impressive in his last two outings which included a comfortable success over course and distance earlier this month. He fits the bill of the old saying of a “group horse in a handicap” and if he proves himself to be just that he could take some stopping here.