Champions Day to start with Honour for O’Brien?
Champions Day is seen by many as the pinnacle of the flat season.
6 races take place at Ascot racecourse. 4 of these are Group 1. The highest amount of prize money ever at a British racecourse will be available for this the 8th running of Champions Day.
The total amount of prize money this year will top £4.3 million.
Champions Day gets under way at 1.25 with the Long Distance Cup. This race is over 2m 2f.
Currently favourite is the John Gosden trained STRADIVARIUS. He ran in this race last year and came 3rd. Since then he has won 4 races on the spin. For me a big question mark is whether he can go on the going. His 2 most recent defeats have come when there is a mention of soft in the going. With the rain in and around Ascot this week I think there is better value elsewhere in the race than taking the likely odds on about this horse.
The horse I think that has the best chance of beating him is FLAG OF HONOUR.
Aiden O’Brien currently has 5 runners in the race and this to me is his best chance. He won the Irish St Leger with this colt and as long as he gets the trip, which I think he will as he seemed to find plenty in the final furlong I think he will repeat the success of Order of St George and get Champions Day off to a successful start for the Ballydoyle machine.
I would certainly rather be looking at taking the 9/4 that is currently available on this horse who seems to love ground with a bit of give in it.
O’Brien is looking to win his 3rd Long Distance Cup since Champions Day was inaugurated after Fame and Glory in 2011 and Order of St George in 2017.
Champions Day Sprint a Sure Tin?
Whilst there are 17 runners for the 1st Group 1 of the day at 2.00pm Champions Sprint Stakes, I personally think that the TIN MAN will take all the beating.
He has excellent form figures here with 3 wins from 7 appearances. He also won this race in 2016. His last race and victory came on heavy going at Haydock but he also has victories on Good to Firm and Good recently.
Another factor for me is that he has Oisin Murphy on board. Currently in great form his presence is another factor to take on board.
LIBRISA BREEZE last year’s winners looks one of the selections likeliest rivals. I just feel that he is not in the same form coming into this race as last year.
HARRY ANGEL for me does not suit Ascot and I will be very surprised if he were to come out and win this race. 4 times this sensation from last season has appeared at Ascot and has for me disappointed on every occasion.
The Fillies and Mares is the next Group 1 which takes place at 2.40pm.
Likely to go off at a short price is LAH TI DAR. Again it is the tried and trusted combination of John Gosden & Frankie Dettori. This filly had swept all before until the St Leger where she failed to overcome Kew Gardens.
With Aiden O’Brien having 8 of the current 14 declared runners you wonder if again he has a plan to derail her?
Champions Day and the Lion to Roar!!
3.15pm is the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Currently 22 runners go to post for this. The market will be dictated to as to whether ROARING LION runs in this race or the next one.
All of his recent wins have come on firmer ground than he is likely to get here. However his earlier form did include a win on Good to Soft.
LAURENS has been supplemented this week for this race. Having won 4 Group 1 races this season he deserves his chance to appears at Champions Day.
Karl Burke’s filly is another who has won on a variety of going and should certainly be there in the shake up at the end.
RECOLETOS comes over from France. However he has appeared twice before at Ascot and has been sent packing on both occasions. I expect him to make it a hat-trick of defeats here.
Champions Day success for Cracksman again?
3.50pm sees the last of the Group 1 races. The Champion Stakes sees Cracksman attempting to replicate his success of last year.
According to the bookmakers this looks to be a 2 horse race. Cracksman is currently odds on and this looks pretty poor value considering he has had only 1 run this season and that looked pretty laboured.
However if he were to return to the form of last year then he would be much shorter and the 5/6 currently available would be like finding money in the street!!
His main market rival is CRYSTAL OCEAN. Sir Michael Stoute’s colt looks great value but has been backed all week. Earlier this week he was available was at 9/2 but is now trading at 9/4. He loves the track and the going will suit him.
The big question on everyone’s lips is does the real Cracksman turn up?
The finale of Champions day is the Balmoral Handicap.
This for me is the most competitive and open race of Champions Day 2018.
If I were to take a punt then I would look at Jamie Osbourne and his gelding RAISING SAND. He has form at the track and is competitively weighted.
Champions Day Tip of the Day
MY TIP OF THE DAY FOR CHAMPIONS DAY 2018 IS ROARING LION TO CONTINUE ON AN UPWARD CURVE IN THE QEII STAKES (3.15PM).
CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT 3/1