Sky Sports Racing’s Alex Hammond highlights his fantasies on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot, including French raider Sweet Lady.
Another flat season peaks on Saturday on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot. The day was first staged in its current form in 2011 and the new concept was rewarded with antics from Frankel in its first year and the following year when he took his final recall in the Champion Stakes in 2012.
I was lucky enough to be there 10 years ago as a guest, and it was a real treat to go racing just as a fan. I had the perfect date because I brought my mom, but our real date was with Frankel, and he pulled out all the stops.
The concept of Champions Day is to celebrate champions and we can do the same a decade later because Baaeed uses the same breed, the Qipco Champions Stakeslike his swan song.
Frankel will be difficult, if not impossible, to bring down his high perch, but Baaid did everything that was asked of him and we ask him once again for maximum efforts so that he can take with him an unblemished record in his next career.
Support Trueshan to get back in shape
Speaking of careers at stud, the small but mighty Stradivarius will join him in the breeding shed next season and I hope the charismatic eight-year-old will be well supported with quality mares. We’ll have another chance to show him our appreciation when he parades one last time at Ascot after the British Champion Sprint Stakes on Saturday.
The Cup division won’t be the same without him, and it’s a shame he couldn’t win that record-breaking Gold Cup at Ascot, but there are some exciting horses to come, with Kyprios leading the way.
There is no Kyprios on Champions Day but the Long distance cut is still high quality with Trueshan bidding to make history with a third win in this race. If he lands the treble, he will be the first horse to claim three victories in this match.
He takes on St Leger winner Eldar Eldarov and in Kyprios’ absence Aidan O’Brien sends a three-year-old called Waterville who looks to be an exciting horse for the remaining division next season.
trueshan was disappointing at Doncaster last time, but that may ensure it is priced more attractively than it would otherwise have been. He is Sky Bet’s 7/4 favourite.
Ascot specialist Rohaan can start again
The British Champions Sprint drew the second biggest field of the day with 18 declared. Stalls will be placed on the other side which means low draws are favored. This makes life difficult for a number of protagonists. Last year’s winner Creative Force, Kinross and Naval Crown are all drawn.
I think the stars could be aligned for Rohaan, who loves Ascot. He’s four out of five on the track, comes here in great shape and will come out of stall six.
He was a real achievement for trainer Dave Evans who scooped him up for just 20,000 guineas a few years ago and he has now won nine races and nearly £400,000 since joining the Welsh assistant . It is now 9/2 with Sky Bet to win again.
Elsewhere on the map, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes market is led by Inspired (same money preferred with Sky Bet). I thought she would be shorter than that, and for a filly who has done very little harm in her career, I thought she looked hard to pit against.
If she won, it would bring John Gosden’s Champions Day winners to nine, one ahead of Aidan O’Brien at the top of the standings. Similarly, a win from O’Brien would put him on top, but he doesn’t seem to have as strong a hand as Team Gosden.
Lady de Graffard looks sweet in fillies and mares
French coach Francis Graffard sends three runners across the Channel to Ascot. The Wight is always to be considered in the IEQ and it would be wonderful to see Australian sensation Verry Elleegant show European racing fans what she is made of in the Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes.
However, their traveling companion, cute girl, should not be discounted in the one and a half mile group. Sweet Lady beat Lilac Road in the Prix Vermeille last month and this form puts both fillies with a shout against Emily Upjohn in an open contest. Sweet Lady is 10/1 and Lilac Road 14s and either could be worth either way.
In the last race on the map, the Balmoral Handicap, we will celebrate another new champion. Benoit de la Sayette is the first apprentice this season after a good fight with Harry Davies. Both riders are real talents who will undoubtedly have many more face to face in the years to come.
It might be worth giving Benoit de la Sayette’s mount a chance as a last resort. Magic Morning finished third in this race last year with a whopping 66/1. It is now 1 pound lighter in weights and will be fitted with cheek pads for the first time. He has a high draw to overcome and is 20/1 to do so.
So a great day ahead and if you’re watching from home or lucky enough to come to Ascot hopefully Baaeed can make the day as memorable for you as Frankel did for me and my mum ago all these years. This may be his last dance, but I promise you if he does something special, you’ll be hooked.
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