Emily Shields from TVG joins us to preview the Group 1 racing across the sea at Ascot's British Champions Day. No doubt a few contenders for the Breeders' Cup in November will be having their final preparations for Santa Anita..
Hailed as an English version of the Breeders’ Cup, British Champions Day will be held for the 9th time on Saturday, October 19. The stellar program features six races, including four group 1 events topped by the rich Qipco Champion Stakes (G1) over 1 ¼ miles.
Magical is the horse to beat. Second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) behind Enable last year, the daughter of Galileo has won four times this year, including the group 1 Irish Champion Stakes and the group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, both over male rivals. Aidan O’Brien trains the classy mare, who will battle with another mare in Japan’s Deirdre. Oisin Murphy will ride the mare, who has spent much of the year in the United Kingdom and won the Qatar Nassau Stakes (G1) in August. Other contenders include Addeybb and Coronet.
The first race on the card is the six-furlong Qipco British Champions Sprint (G1). Frankie Dettori rides Advertise, a group 1 winner over this track in June during Royal Ascot in the Commonwealth Cup. He is coming off a French group 1 victory in August. Hello Youmzain is the main challenger; Kevin Ryan trains the group 1 winning colt who was third behind Advertise in June. Popular challengers who regularly run well include The Tin Man, Sands of Mali, and Librisa Breeze.
All eyes will be on Stradivarius and Dettori as they go for their 11th straight win in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2). Stradivarius won this race last year after being third in 2017. That was the last time this grand campaigner lost.
The Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mare Stakes (G1) features well-matched rivals Star Catcher, Anapurna, and Fleeting. Star Catcher has won three in a row and four of her last five, including two group 1 races in a row. She was a group 2 winner here during the Royal Ascot meet. Anapurna was a French group 1 winner on October 5; the daughter of Frankel wheels back off short rest here for trainer John Gosden. Fleeting was second at Longchamp last out at a shorter distance last out. Multiple group 1 placed Pink Dogwood is worth a look at a higher price.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) rounds out the top action. The one-mile contest features O’Brien’s Magna Grecia facing Godolphin’s Benbatl and The Revenant. Benbatl was a smashing winner of the Shadwell Joel Stakes (G2) at Newmarket in September and was a group 1 winner in Australia last year before an 11-month layoff. Group 1 winner Lord Glitters was sixth in this race last year.
It is possible that some of the horses here will be pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup, and some will set their sights on Keeneland for next year. Bet on British Champions Day this Saturday over at TVG.