Donnacha O’Brien enjoyed a QIPCO British Champions Day to remember as he and Kew Gardens ended the long distance reign of Ascot favourite Stradivarius before the Irish jockey captured the feature Champion Stakes on board Magical.
On a day when the sunshine finally came out on the rain-sodden Berkshire course and the curtain fell on the 2019 Flat season, Frankie Dettori made amends for his disappointment on board Stradivarius by guiding Star Catcher to victory.
The richest day on the British calendar opened with a surprise as Donjuan Triumphant burst from the pack to claim a one length victory under Silvestre de Souza in the Champion Sprint Stakes at an eye-catching 33-1.
There was a buzz of anticipation as Stradivarius, winner of the last two Golds Cups at the Royal Meeting, went down to post for the defence of his Champions Long Distance Cup crown.
It looked like Dettori and trainer John Gosden were set for another Group One victory as he surged to the front with half a furlong to go but O’Brien roused Kew Gardens for one final push and the St Leger winner from 2018 got up by a whisker on the line.
The defeat was a body blow for Dettori but he bounced back in the next, steering Star Victory, the 7-4 favourite, to a short head win in the Champion Fillies and Mares stakes for the 250th Group One winner of his stellar career.
Richard Hannon’s King of Change sprang a 12-1 surprise in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, edging out The Revenant by a length and a quarter. Her Majesty was on hand to present owner, trainer and jockey Sean Levey’s trophies in the presentation.
So often the bridesmaid behind Enable in her career, Magical stormed to a supreme victory in the showpiece Champion Stakes to give the O’Brien family and Coolmore their second big winner of the day.
Magical fended off a late challenge from Addeyb with Japanese challenger Deirdre in a creditable third on the soft ground.
A memorable day was wrapped up in the Balmoral Handicap when 16-1 shot Escobar put in a scintillating final furlong to clinch victory for jockey Adam Kirby and trainer David O’Meara.
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