With three Group One races, including Britain’s richest race, two Group Two’s and the inaugural Balmoral Handicap, British Champions Day on Saturday 18th October promises to be a fitting finale to the Flat season at Ascot Racecourse.
We take a look at the six-race card that makes up Britain’s richest raceday after Monday’s confirmation stage.
13:45 - QIPCO Long Distance Cup (Group 2)
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Leading Light and The Queen’s Estimate are arguably the star acts among the 13 entries for the opening race – the QIPCO Long Distance Cup – having finished first and second respectively in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June.
Big Orange, a gutsy winner at Ascot on his latest start, is also set to return to the track with connections having paid the required £18,000 to add him to the line-up for the two-mile contest that kicks off proceedings.
Sunday's Irish Cesarewitch winner El Salvador and Kingfisher - also engaged in the Champion Stakes - could line up for O'Brien too alongside Dermot Weld's Forgotten Rules, who in just two starts to date has won a Punchestown bumper and a Flat race at the Galway Festival.
Andrew Balding could run Rawaki and Whiplash Willie, while Biographer, Harris Tweed, Pallasator and the John Gosden duo of Flying Officer and Marzocco complete the potential line-up.
14:20 – QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 2)
G Force has been supplemented for the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes, one of 18 horses confirmed for the Group Two over six furlongs. Trainer David O'Meara and owners Middleham Park Racing have added the Haydock Sprint Cup winner to the field at a cost of £20,000.
Gordon Lord Byron was a disappointing eighth in the race last year but is likely to try again for trainer Tom Hogan following a fine second in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp earlier this month.
A strong Irish contingent is backed up by Maarek, An Saighdiur and the Eddie Lynam-trained duo of Gathering Power and Viztoria, a good winner at the Curragh on Sunday.
Lightning Moon, Jack Dexter, Tropics, Baccarat and Gregorian could feature for the home team, but the likes of Aljamaaheer, Take Cover and Hot Streak have been taken out.
14:55 – Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1)
Roger Varian's Hadaatha could bid to improve on her recent third place in the Prix de l'Opera in the QIPCO Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
The Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned three-year-old ran a race full of promise on her first start in Group One company at Longchamp, finishing with a flourish to register a close third under Paul Hanagan.
That was just her fourth career start and came hot on the heels of a Listed success at Yarmouth.
Luca Cumani's Silk Sari will be having her first crack at the highest level following a fantastic Group Two win at Doncaster last time and she is one of two supplementary entries, the other being Godolphin's Albasharah who hacked up in the Pride Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
Saeed bin Suroor, who trains Albasharah, could also run Tasaday.
Aidan O'Brien could also be double-handed with Chicquita and Beyond Brilliance, while the Irish challenge is strengthened by Dermot Weld's Vote Often, Joseph Murphy's Euphrasia and Johnny Murtagh's We'll Go Walking.
Ralph Beckett's Cubanita, John Hammond's Pollyanna, James Fanshawe's Seal Of Approval and David Simcock's Madame Chiang complete the entries.
15:30 - Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored By Qipco (Group 1) (British Champions Mile)
No more than 13 runners will go to post in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, with market leaders Charm Spirit and Night Of Thunder both remaining in the field.
The latter's trainer Richard Hannon has also left Toronado, who won the Queen Anne Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot, and Toormore in the line-up, while last year's second Top Notch Tonto and third Kingsbarns are among the contenders too.
Custom Cut and Captain Cat have also been supplemented, while Graphic, owned by the Royal Ascot Racing Club, Andrew Balding's mudlover Tullius, Integral, the Sun Chariot winner earlier this month, and possible Irish raider Mustajeeb are others among the line-up.
16:05 - Qipco Champion Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Middle Distance)
Free Eagle and Cirrus Des Aigles top 12 six-day acceptors for the QIPCO Champion Stakes.
Free Eagle made a deep impression when winning the Group Three KPMG Enterprise Stakes at Leopardstown last month on his belated reappearance, while the remarkable Cirrus Des Aigles, winner of this race in 2011 before finishing second in the last two renewals, remains a potent force at the top level.
In the absence of the retired Australia, O'Brien is set to rely on last year's Investec Derby hero Ruler Of The World, Kingsbarns - who is also among the QEII acceptors - and Kingfisher.
Noble Mission, a full-brother to Frankel, is firmly on course for the contest, while Al Kazeem, Pether's Moon, Sheikhzayeroad, Aurad and Western Hymn complete the field.
16:45 - Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored By Qipco)
Brian Ellison's hat-trick seeking Baraweez heads 37 entries for the QIPCO Balmoral Handicap, run over a mile at Ascot on Saturday.
The four-year-old has won at Galway and Leopardstown on his last two starts and is disputing the position of market leader along with recent Cambridgeshire winner Bronze Angel.
American Hope, Cornrow, Niceofyoutotellme, Velox, Buckstay, Chatez, First Flight, Russian Realm and Short Squeeze are other fancied contenders to stand their ground.
A total of 30 horses, made up of qualifiers from nominated handicaps throughout the season, will line up over the straight mile in a race that closes QIPCO British Champions Day.
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