Daily Mail racing tipster Sam Turner has the best bets from Champions Day at Ascot.
The durability and resolve of Aidan O’Brien’s horses will again be severely tested today and perhaps no examination will be stiffer than that of ORDER OF ST GEORGE (Best price Evens) who strives to build on a superb effort in the Arc just two weeks ago. The Ascot Gold Cup winner boasts a potent turn of speed for a stayer, as he displayed at the Royal meeting in June, but there will be a few looking to take him on after a bruising trip to Chantilly. However, a mid-summer break may leave the selection with more in the tank than some realise and he is taken to hold off 2014 winner Forgotten Rules who looks the best each-way alternative.
The classy Quiet Reflection arguably holds the key to this race as she has only been beaten by Limato and Suedois this year (in the July Cup) and arrives on the back of an emphatic defeat of The Tin Man in the Sprint Cup at Haydock. However her yard are a little subdued at the moment and there could be merit in siding with LIBRISA BREEZE (Best price 9-1) who takes a marked step up in class but is unlucky not to be unbeaten in three starts at Ascot. The selection was hugely impressive in winning a top-level handicap last time when he appeared to be in a hopeless position at the distance and a strong gallop at six furlongs could see him progress again.
Ireland looks to have a great chance of landing this prize with two strong contenders in SEVENTH HEAVEN (Best price 2-1) and Zhukova. Both contenders have their respective merits with preference narrowly for the former who suffered a sole defeat this season in the Oaks when the soft ground look to find her out. Aidan O’Brien’s filly was mightily impressive when obliging in the Yorkshire Oaks from stablemate Found and holds good claims here if stall 13 isn’t too awkward. Zhukova looked to pull herself up in front at Leopardstown after shooting clear of her rivals in a Group Three. The cheekpieces may help concentrate her mind and she is feared from a yard that won this in 2012 with Sapphire.
MINDING (Best price 5-2) had a choice of engagements today but connections decide on the mile and this is her first run at this distance since suffering a narrow defeat at the hands of Jet Setting in the Irish Guineas. An incident exiting the stalls that day when she banged her head probably contributed to her narrow defeat and she is better judged on her ruthlessly efficient victory in the English version. A recent warm up in the Irish Champion Stakes should have put her spot on and a straight mile appears to suit Minding perfectly so she is preferred to Jersey Stakes winner Ribchester who himself was an emphatic winner of a French Group One last time and looks a major adversary. Lightning Spear bounced back to form at Goodwood and holds each-way claims judged on his creditable third to Tepin at the Royal meeting in June.
The move to bypass the Arc for a tilt at the British Champion Stakes by connections of ALMANZOR (Best price 13-8) caused consternation across The Channel, but France’s loss is Britain’s gain with the presence of the French Derby winner adding further lustre to a smashing renewal. The selection found a blistering change of gear to circle his field at Leopardstown, with only Found capable of going with him in the straight and the margin of victory arguably didn’t represent the snug manner of the success. The race has already thrown up the first two home in the Arc and Almanzor will be tough to beat providing he gets a clear passage from stall one. Jack Hobbs could be a joker in the pack as he was third 12 months ago and reports of his homework have been very encouraging.
The draw is likely to have a major say on the destination of this valuable handicap but, in the hope those drawn stands’ side aren’t inconvenienced, FIRMAMENT (Best price 8-1) is taken to gain compensation for an agonising defeat over seven furlongs here recently. The selection looked to have a valuable handicap wrapped up that day until Librisa Breeze found daylight late on to finish with an extraordinary burst of speed to wrestle the prize. Hopefully, David O’Meara’s charge can gain compensation.
GM HOPKINS (Best price 11-1) is another to consider as he gave away all chance in the Cambridgeshire by rearing at the start and, in the circumstances, his finishing position was still creditable. That was the first time in three starts that Ryan Moore has suffered defeat aboard the gelding and it is worth acknowledging that his mount’s Ascot form reads 1210.
Read Sam Turner's tips in the Daily Mail every day or at www.dailymail.co.uk/racing