After a long old summer/autumn jaunt we wave off the British flat racing season in fine style with this, the British Champions meeting from Ascot on Saturday.
The planet’s finest sprinters, chasers and long-distance powerhouses will be on display for the final time this year, with each of the five main renewals looking ultra-competitive in their own right.
So who will have their moment in the autumnal sun and who will head home with darkness in their souls (a bit excessive, but we’ll run with it)? Let’s take a look at the pick of the British Champions Day betting tips.
QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (1:25pm)
Proceedings at Ascot commence with the Long Distance Cup, and this is a renewal of note because in the past six years no ante-post favourite has gone on to win the race – mind you seven of the last ten champions have been priced at 3/1 or less.
That’s good news for the bookies then, and even worse news for Order of St George: the 4/5 favourite.
If we’re smart we might just find some betting gold in amongst this sludge. The average age of the winning horses in the past ten years is 5.1, and we’re going to plump for Simple Verse as an each way shout at 5/1.
The four-year-old won at this meeting last year in the Fillies & Mares Stakes, and despite a drop-off in form of late she roared back to her best last time out at Doncaster with a win over 14f. She loves good going, which we’re expecting here, and as a former St Leger winner we have no concerns about hr staying the course.
QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes (2pm)
We’ve a real fancy for Quiet Reflection (11/4) in this one. She’s won six of her last seven starts, and her only defeat – third in the Darley July Cup – came on firm ground to the outstanding Limato.
Limato was supposed to be in the field here, but concerns over the softness of the track led to a late withdrawal and opened the door wide for Quiet Reflection to come home in first. Watch out for Twilight Son and The Tin Man, but for now we’re happy to invest in the Commonwealth and Sprint Cup champion.
QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (2:35pm)
This is another renewal for the bookmakers to savour, with no outright favourite winning this race in the past ten years! The last five have been priced at 6/1, 5/2, 16/1, 12/1 and 6/1, so clearly there is scope here for punters to widen their nets in the search for a winner.
We’re looking for a three or four-year-old (they have won 9/10 in this renewal), so let’s go with an each way punt on Pretty Perfect at 25/1.
She is woefully inconsistent, but three wins and two seconds in a nine race career is impressive, and second last time out in the Park Hill Stakes – nearly chasing down Simple Verse – highlights the quality she possesses on her day.
QIPCO British Champions Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (3:10pm)
Here’s the third of the day’s Group 1 concerns, and the outstanding Minding will lead the field out as a 2/1 favourite.
This is the race where favourites dominate – the likes of Rip Van Winkle, Frankel and Solow have all won this renewal in recent times, and the short price on Minding is very much justified. Nine of the last ten winners have been priced at 5/1 or less, so really this is a straight shootout between the favourite and Ribchester.
Minding, trained by three-time winner of this race Aidan O’Brien, a repeat winner over a mile and with four wins from six starts in 2016. She really comes to party on the softer ground expected here, and looks a fantastic investment as a result.
QIPCO Champion Stakes (3:45pm)
The last of the feature races is the Champion Stakes, and with £1.3 million in prize money up for grabs it’s no surprise to learn that some of the world’s very best are in town for this one.
Almanzor vs Found takes top billing – these are two stunning horses. The former is unbeaten in his last four starts, including a decent victory over Found and Minding in the Irish Champion Stakes in September, and so his price of 13/8 is justified.
The latter, with Aidan O’Brien on training duties and Ryan Moore in the saddle, has so much potential, but a run of just three wins in fifteen starts is not enough to whet the whistle.
Our each way punt is Fascinating Rock, who at 11/2 looks superb value given that he has beaten Found twice in his career to date (bookies are paying on three places too). The five-year-old has placed in each of his last five starts, and with the trainer-jockey combo of Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen – they of four wins in the last five Champions Day meetings -responsible for his affairs there is no reason why he can’t place at the very least.