The ninth running of QIPCO British Champions Day will once again feature some of the stars of the 2019 Flat season. Four Group One races and £4.3m worth of prize money make this not only the richest raceday in Britain but also one of the highest quality meetings in the world.
It will be the first time at Ascot that Flat racing has taken place on the Inner Flat Track with the races scheduled for the Round Course moved owing to waterlogged ground and more rain forecast. This means slightly amended race distances for the Long Distance Cup, Fillies & Mares Stakes and Champion Stakes to accommodate the start positions. The three races on the Straight Course are unaffected where the ground is set to be testing.
The day gets underway with the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes over six furlongs where Royal Ascot winner Advertise heads the field under Frankie Dettori. He has enjoyed an excellent season winning the Commonwealth Cup as well as the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest in France. Hello Youmzain and One Master are challenging him for favouritism in the market and both have Group One victories on soft ground while The Tin Man, winner of this race in 2016, looked back to his best when second to Hello Youmzain in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.
Perhaps the most intriguing runner though is Make A Challenge who was supplemented for the race after bolting up in a Listed race at the Curragh on Sunday. He has had a remarkable season, winning six of his last eight starts and rising from a rating of just 66 to 111.
The QIPCO Long Distance Cup is once again graced by the star stayer Stradivarius, a dual Gold Cup winner, unbeaten in his last 10 starts and one of the most popular horses in training. He is bidding to win this race for the second year in a row and will be a short price to do so for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. He does face a larger field than normal though with 10 runners set to go to post and also a fresh challenge in the shape of Kew Gardens, winner of the St Leger last year.
The QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes features two of the Classic generation’s best fillies in the shape of Anapurna, winner of the Oaks and Star Catcher, winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Irish Oaks. They look likely to be the ones to beat but the Irish challenge is strong with Fleeting and Pink Dogwood from the Ballydoyle team and Tarnawa for Dermot Weld who is an improving filly having landed a Group Three and then a Group Two in her last two starts.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes is the premier mile championship race and the richest race over that distance in Europe, with a roll of honour including Brigadier Gerard, Dubai Millennium and Frankel.
The longtime favourite is The Revenant who has been a revelation since moving to France, winning seven times from eight starts and he steps up to Group One company for the first time. The 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia returns to the track after four months off while Benbatl is another we have not seen much of this year but he showed his well-being when easily winning a Group Two at Newmarket in September. Queen Anne Stakes winner Lord Glitters can’t be ruled out while unexposed three-year-olds Mohaather and King Of Change could also be involved.
The £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes is headed by Magical and the Aidan O’Brien filly is the stand out horse in the race having won two Group Ones this season and finished second in another three. Aidan O’Brien has never won the Champion Stakes though and Japanese trained Deirdre doesn’t have a huge amount to find based on her unlucky run in the Irish Champion Stakes. Addeybb will appreciate any cut in the ground and Regal Reality could enter the picture if re-finding the form of his Eclipse third.
A typically competitive looking Balmoral Handicap rounds out the card where Frankie Dettori and Lord North will be popular with punters having landed the Cambridgeshire Handicap in impressive style last time out. Kynren, Clon Coulis and Escobar all seem to raise their game at Ascot while Biometric, winner of the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot, could have more to give back on soft ground.