Known as the ‘Ultimate Raceday,’ British Champions Day at Ascot has been the thrilling conclusion to the United Kingdom’s flat racing season for over a decade now, and it has quickly established itself as one of the best meetings on the calendar.
The richest race day in the UK, with £4 million up for grabs across the five-race card, it’s no surprise the top trainers, jockeys, and horses descend on the hallowed Ascot turf for one last hurrah, and there is no better venue to host such an occasion than the Berkshire course.
So, with Champions Day penciled in for October 15th, read on as we take a look ahead to the season finale.
Long Distance Cup (Group 2)
The Long Distance Cup opens proceedings at British Champions Day, and there is hope for Trueshan as he looks to end the season with a much-needed return to the winners’ enclosure. The Alan King-trained horse was third in the Goodwood Cup before being stunned by Coltrane last time out in the Doncaster Cup, so the six-year-old perhaps has a point to prove.
With the recent news that Stradivarius has retired to stud and Kyprios being sent to Paris for the Prix du Cadran, Trueshan will likely go off as the favorite in the horse racing bets. But he could face competition from the likes of St. Leger winner Eldar Eldarov (4/1) and the aforementioned Coltrane (8/1), who will be looking for a fourth successive victory and a third Group 2 on the trot.
Sprint Stakes (Group 1)
Blink, and you will miss the six-furlong Sprint Stakes. Charlie Appleby and William Buick had a fine Champions Day last year, and the Godolphin duo will be hoping to defend their Sprint Stakes title with defending champion Creative Force (3/1), who is without a win this season.
Joint-third favorite Kinross (6/1) is arguably the horse with the form though, winning back-to-back Group 2s at York and Doncaster with Frankie Dettori in the saddle. Back in Group 1 company for this race, it’ll be interesting to see if the Ralph Beckett-trained horse can finally win at the top level.
Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1)
The Fillies & Mares Stakes might just prove to be the most open contest of the day, with so little to separate the front runners — Emily Upjohn (5/1), Mimikyu (6/1), Sea La Rosa (6/1), and a whole host of 7/1 shots. Joseph’s O’Brien’s Above The Curve is one of those and has won three of her four races this season, most recently landing the Group 2 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh.
There’s a sense, however, that John and Thady Gosden’s Emily Upjohn has a point to prove on Champions Day. One of the highest-regarded fillies going into this season, the Gosdens’ entry has been disappointing in her last two outings, and her 5/1 odds are perhaps low. The father/son duo’s second entry, Mimikyu, returned to winning ways last time out, winning the Group 2 Park Hill at Doncaster, and could put in a decent claim at 6/1.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1)
The third Group 1 of the day and the race with the second-biggest prize purse, standing at £623,810-to-the-winner, it could be a good day at Ascot for the Gosden clan if Inspiral (11/10) can add another major win to her glowing CV. It hasn’t been the season many pictured for the three-year-old as she missed much of the early part through injury, but she has impressed with Group 1 wins at Royal Ascot and Deauville and should make it a hattrick in the one-mile Queen Elizabeth II.
France’s Erevann has been installed as the second favorite after returning to winning ways with a Group 2 victory in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp on October 1st, but will likely have a new jockey in the saddle following Christophe Soumillon’s dismissal by Aga Khan after his in-race incident with Rossa Ryan made the headlines.
Champion Stakes (Group 1)
All eyes will be on Ascot for the £1.2 million Champion Stakes, where the aforementioned Baaeed (1/3) will be hoping to replicate Frankel’s race record from over a decade ago. The four-year-old has already won the Lockinge, Queen Anne, Sussex Stakes, and Juddmonte International this season and needs just the Champion Stakes to replicate the legendary horse’s great feat.
2021 Epsom Derby winner Adayar appears to be Baaeed’s biggest threat in the racing predictions. Appleby has opted to send the four-year-old to Ascot over the Arc, and 7/2 says the Godolphin star turns over the number one-ranked horse in the world in the 1m2f contest.
Dubai Mirage is the 10/1 favorite for Saeed bin Suroor in the concluding Balmoral Handicap.