Horse Racing
Saturday’s British Champions Day expected to live right up to expectations at Ascot

15/10/2021 15:42

With near good ground expected on Saturday (16 October), Ascot’s end-of-season showcase has attracted a host of stars for the UK’s richest meeting – British Champions Day. The biggest winner’s prize for the four G1’s is the £714,546 (approx. HK$7.617 million) Champion Stakes (1993m) which gives the brilliant and versatile Mishriff a live opportunity of enhancing his G1 profile further following his runaway six length victory in August’s Juddmonte International Stakes (2051m) at York.

Saturday’s rider David Egan and trainers John & Thady Gosden were all smiles after the four-year-old money-spinner exercised on Newmarket’s Limekilns gallops on Tuesday (12 October), and their smiles won’t have diminished after the bulletins of drying ground.

Fierce opposition in the ten runner field will come from G1 Epsom Derby (2405m) and G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2392m) winner Adayar and Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby wouldn’t be sending him to Ascot unless judging him fresh enough to run after his fourth – when intermittingly pulling too hard – on the heavy ground in Longchamp’s G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) just 13 days before Saturday’s task.

Those looking in a different direction to this pair are not short of interesting options, including Arc fifth Sealiway who pairs with Mickael Barzalona. He is expected to be much happier over shorter, while French-trained raiders have won this contest 23 times since World War II and then there’s the menacing William Haggas-trained trio of Addeybb, Dubai Honour and Al Aasy.

One afternoon earlier this month, Haggas trained a phenomenal eight winners, probable highlight of another fantastic season for the Newmarket trainer. Of this race itself, Haggas enthuses: “It’s hugely competitive, a fantastic race. And Mishriff was awesome at York.”

Addeybb is not expected to get his favoured slow ground but his trainer is buzzing about the other two, especially Dubai Honour, winner of back-to-back French G2’s latterly when surging wide and fast from the rear to easily win the Prix Dollar (1950m) on Arc weekend. “He’s a transformed horse this year and James (Doyle) said he showed lovely acceleration to win at Longchamp, after which I suggested to his owner Mohamed Obaida that since there is no race for him until Hong Kong in December that we supplement him for Ascot. He was so keen to do that he nearly bit my hand off!”

And Haggas cautions against ignoring triple G3 winner Al Aasy: “He’s been called names because he doesn’t find as much as he should under pressure. But he’s a very good horse and the tactics must be to deliver him as late as possible.” Jim Crowley will have that responsibility on Saturday.

Haggas also has live chances of winning the ten runner G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over Ascot’s straight 1600m with the much-heralded Baaeed, a three-year-old son of Sea The Stars who is unbeaten in five starts. Ironically, the only criticism the colt has ever faced concerned his first G1 victory – in last month’s Prix du Moulin (1600m) at Longchamp – as it appeared more workmanlike than brilliant and, in addition, it has been widely observed that the form of those behind him has worked out poorly since.

Baaeed will face brilliant five-time G1 winner Palace Pier and Haggas knows that to be an enormous test against the older champion miler but says of Jim Crowley’s mount: “He had a hiccup before Longchamp and I’m pretty sure he was not at his best. I think you’ll see the best of him on Saturday.”