IT’s time for a much needed party!
Racing fans really should sit back and purr over today’s unprecedented 10th Anniversary Champions Day Ascot card, which is packed with top-class goodies and might well throw up the best horse on planet earth.
With all six races shown live on the main ITV network, there’s no excuse to miss what is arguably the best single day’s racing ever broadcast in the United Kingdom.
And after nearly two years of Covid mucking up the lives of most, this really is a time to just be taken away to a world of pure sporting theatre. Escapism at its best.
The star cast includes Group 1 stayers like Trueshan and Stradivarius, star milers in Palace Pier and the unbeaten Baeed, monster middle distance performers in Mishriff, Adayar and Snowfall as well as speedsters in the shape of Dragon Symbol and Creative Force.
Where to begin?!
The clash of the day is surely either Palace Pier v Baeed in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Or is it? Many of you might say Mishriff v Adayar in the Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes.
I would opt for the former, with Palace Pier and Baeed offering a career record between them of fourteen wins from fifteen runs.
Palace Pier runs for John and Thady Gosden, and the son of Kingman has never been given the credit his talent deserves. Like his sire he’s a Jacques le Marois and St James’s Palace Stakes winner, and this season he has been supreme in four starts. I’m surprised his rating of 125 is not higher.
Baeed is the young pretender for William Haggas, and as such gets 3lb although he’s rated 4lb inferior. At the weights there is little between them.
Jim Crowley’s mount was scintillating in a Group 3 at Goodwood before landing the Group 1 Prix du Moulin at Longchamp in reasonable style.
Mix in among the ten runners the likes of Coronation Stakes heroine Alcohol Free for the champion Oisin Murphy and the magnificent Lady Bowthorpe for music mogul Emma Banks and we have a race to savour.
I believe Palace Pier will be too good.
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I’m also all over Mishriff in the Champion for the Gosden’s, although the Derby hero and Arc fourth Adayar will be fascinating back in trip for Charlie Appleby and William Buick.
Mishriff was brilliant in the Juddmonte International at York, and this is his trip and ground. I’ll be backing David Egan’s mount but also having a few quid each-way at long odds on Al Aasy.
He either hasn’t been getting home or been ridden too close to the pace in recent times, but Haggas is convinced he’s ultra talented and I suspect he’ll be ridden cold here and could easily pick up some place pieces.
The meeting gets under way with the Group 2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup, and I’ll be taking Stradivarius to reverse recent Longchamp form with mudlark Trueshan. I just suspect the ‘Strad’ will have too much pace.
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I’m hoping the Sprint will be huge for Murphy and trainer Archie Watson who team up with Dragon Symbol. No horse deserves a big success more than this boy, and conditions today are absolutely ideal.
His big three runs came over 6f and include a Commonwealth Cup success (subsequently demoted) and second in the July Cup at Newmarket. It’s the end of a long season, but Dragon Symbol has the class to score if anywhere near right.
In many ways the most obvious winner of the card is Snowfall, who on early season form would be a good thing in the Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes. But Aidan O’Brien’s raider is one I have to take on at short odds.
In her last two starts there have been clear signs at Snowfall is not a dominant force anymore and for that reason I’ll back Albaflora each-way for Ralph Beckett and Rossa Ryan.
The horses on show today really do match up against any other racing nation. If one of the big guns hacks up they may well be the best horse in the world. Truly, this is a day for champions.
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