The Champion Stakes (Saturday 21 October, 3.50) is the highlight of Champions Day at Ascot. However, the race dates back to 1877 when the inaugural running was won by Springfield. It has since been won by greats like Sir Ivor, Brigadier Gerard, Triptych, Bosra Sham, Pilsudski, Frankel and Almanzor.
7 of the last 8 winners were aged 4 or 5
5 of the last 6 winners were drawn in stall 5 or lower
7 of the last 10 winners had won last time out
The last 10 winners’ SP’s have ranged from 6/5 to 14/1
Jean Claude Rouget has trained 2 of the last 10 winners
Ran his best race of the season when third behind Ulysses and Barney Roy in the Eclipse, but is ideally served by a bit further. Also worrying that his worst run of the season came here at Ascot, where he finished much further behind Ulysses than he had at Sandown.
Won his only course and distance start, and definitely has the class to win. However, he is much better on fast ground, and has flopped on far too many occasions of soft ground to make a case for him, despite Ryan Moore preferring him to Cliffs Of Moher.
Around 20lb to find with the best of these, and he’s probably here as a pacemaker for Barney Roy.
Looks another typical Sir Michael Stoute late-improver, and his second in the Irish Champion Stakes was by far the best performance of his career. The 4-year-olds are also 2lb better off with the 3-year-olds than they were in Ireland. He also handles soft and is a proven stayer.
Has 8-9lb to find with the best of these, but if the ground were to turn heavy he could easily outrun his odds in conditions that a few of these may not handle.
Enjoyed his finest hour at Ascot when winning the St James’s Palace Stakes, and his sire also liked Ascot, and won on soft ground. Decent chance, though 10-furlongs on soft ground may be pushing his stamina to the limits.
Won this season’s French 2,000 Guineas and French Derby, but that form looks below the form of some of his rivals. However, trainer has won the race twice this decade, and could easily hit the frame.
Cliffs Of Moher
Finished in front of Cracksman in the Epsom Derby, and it’s easy to make excuses for his 3 disappointing runs since. He was knocked sideways in the Eclipse, didn’t seem to like being asked to make the running in the Juddmonte, and was blocked twice when trying to creep up the rail in the Irish Champion Stakes.
Big talking horse but, whilst he’s certainly started to fulfil his potential with two Group 2 wins, the combination of dropping back in trip, and the fact that he’s yet to prove himself at Group 1 level, makes him look a little under-priced.
Won two group races at around this distance, and was third in the French Derby. Only seventh in a strongly run race after that though, and might find English racing tougher than French racing.
Three-year-olds Cracksman, Barney Roy and Brametot head the market, whilstCliffs of Moher could yet have his big day but, as older horses have by far the best record in the race, it may be worth taking them on with Poet’s Word. Sir Michael Stoute’s 4-year-old ran the best race of his life last time in Ireland, has won on soft ground over further, and is 2lb better off with the 3-year-old from last time. Meanwhile, Stoute could have run Ulysses here who would have an outstanding chance on form.