Champions Day: Britain’s richest raceday and punters can cash in too
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By Stuart Riley 6:30PM 14 OCT 2016
CHAMPIONS DAY is Britain’s richest raceday with four Group 1s and £4.2 million in prize-money, but it’s not just connections that can profit. Here’s our quick guide to finding winners on British Champions Day:
Identify vulnerable favourites
Given Champions Day comes with a season’s worth of evidence the obvious place to start would appear to be with the form horses.
The likes of Ascot Gold Cup winner and Arc third Order Of St George; Commonwealth Cup and Sprint Cup winner Quiet Reflection; Irish and Yorkshire Oaks winner Seventh Heaven; Guineas, Oaks, Pretty Polly and Nassau winner Minding; and Prix du Jockey Club and Irish Champion Stakes hero Almanzor, who perhaps looks the most bombproof of the lot, have earned their position at the head of their respective markets with a series of stellar performances throughout the season.
But some – for reasons varying from ground, to trip, to opposition, to a long hard season finally taking its toll – are more vulnerable than others.
In the meeting’s five year history, the five championship races have returned just eight winning favourites from 25 races. Take out the Sprint and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which have had three winning favourites apiece, and that number drops to two (from 15) – and one of those came courtesy of the mighty Frankel in the 2012 Champion Stakes! The Long Distance Cup is yet to have been won by the favourite.
Beware the long, hard season
Unlike top class jumps horses who are trained all season with Cheltenham in mind, many of those at the head of the market have been brought to the boil several times this season.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes favourite Minding is an obvious example. She has been on the go since winning the Guineas in May, six starts ago. All of those have come in Group 1 company, and mostly over further.
Minding: has been racing over further than a mile
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Most of her main rivals are in a similar position. Galileo Gold and Ribchester have five starts each to their name this season while Awtaad’s had six and Jet Setting seven. As Found proved in the Arc some horses thrive on their racing and this could come down to who handles the grind of yet another gruelling race the best.
Jet Setting has had a relatively easy time of it since a setback in June, and beat Minding fair and square over this distance in the Irish Guineas. But the biggest flop of her career came at Royal Ascot.
Look for autumn peakers
Favourites do have a good record in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and since Champions Day started it has not been won by a horse who returned an SP bigger than 11-2, but if there is going to be a major upset could it come from Minding’s stablemate Hit It A Bomb?
He peaks at this time of year, having won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf this time last year and unlike most of his rivals he has just two runs to his name this year. He has been trained to peak this autumn.
If this year’s Long Distance Cup even-money favourite Order Of St George left his race behind when a brilliant third in the Arc two weeks ago, then he faces several rivals campaigned specifically to peak for this day.
Dermot Weld: has had great success targetting this meeting
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Dermot Weld’s 2014 winner of this race Forgotten Rules had his first run since last year’s renewal last month, while last year’s St Leger and Fillies & Mares winner Simple Verse won last month’s Group 2 Park Stakes – her first start since June.
Others trained to peak for this day include last year’s Fillies & Mares runner-up Journey, who won her only start since May last month, and in the same race Zhukova – who has three wins from three starts this season for the already mentioned Weld who just loves to target this meeting.
Weld has also based the entire campaign of last year’s Champion Stakes winner Fascinating Rock around defending his title, while Gosden’s Jack Hobbs, sent off the even-money favourite in that race when third, is another trained with this day in mind having been off since April.
In the Sprint Diamond Jubilee winner Twilight Son has his first start since the July Cup in, you guessed it – July, while Gosden’s Shalaa had his first start of the season two weeks ago and The Tin Man has been lightly campaigned.
Right on track
Ascot is a track that sees horses perform well there time and again and that can bring several discounted runners into consideration.
Both Quiet Reflection and Twilight Son won Group 1 sprints at Royal Ascot, while handicap graduate Librisa Breeze has two course wins to his name from three visits.
Even Song may have disappointed on her last two starts but the time before that she was an impressive winner of the Ribblesdale, over the same course and distance as the Fillies & Mares.
My Dream Boat: beat Found by a neck over course and distance in June
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Queen Elizabeth II hope Galileo Gold won the St James’s Palace on the round course, while Ribchester was successful on the straight course in the Jersey Stakes.
The only pervious course winners in the Champion Stakes are last year’s winner Fascinating Rock and Prince of Wales’s winner My Dream Boat, who beat none other than Arc heroine Found that day over the same trip.
Look for the springer
There have been five winners at double-figure prices in the last five years with 20-1 shot Royal Diamond in the 2013 Long Distance Cup, 16-1 and 12-1 chances Seal Of Approval and Madame Chiang in the 2013 and 2014 Fillies and Mares and 12-1 and 10-1 hopes Cirrus Des Aigles and Fascinating Rock in the 2011 and 2015 Champion Stakes.
The fragile but talented Litigant gave weight and a beating to Order Of St George’s Irish St Leger conqueror Wicklow Brave in the 2015 Ebor and has run just twice since, finishing ninth in this last year when not having the clearest prep and then winning another handicap over 1m4f by four and a half lengths – off a mark of 106.
In the Sprint 5f queen Mecca’s Angel has been tempted into stepping up in trip. The way she disposed of Limato in the Nunthorpe would make her a menacing prospect if seeing out the extra furlong.
In the Champion Stakes one-time Derby favourite Midterm is bred to be an absolute superstar, being by the all-conquering Galileo out of wondermare Midday – who won twice as many Group 1s as the father. Racing History, who has been off the track since finishing fourth in this race last year, is a full brother to 2013 winner Farhh and both are open to improvement.
Don’t miss Saturday’s Racing Post for an unmissable package of previews, cards and tipping for British Champions Day – available on iPad from 8pm