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Five big breeding stories to look out for on Champions Day

Martin Stevens looks at the talking points on a top-class card at Ascot

Cracksman: a possible first European Group 1 winner for Frankel
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Frankel could seal a superb start at stud

We are all agreed by now that Frankel is an exceptionally gifted young sire, aren't we? Even with the obligatory caveat that he has covered numerous high-class racemares and proven producers in his early years at Banstead Manor Stud, 20 black-type winners among his first two crops and 11 other stakes-placed runners besides have surely put the issue beyond doubt.

What would silence the naysayers once and for all – those few remaining voices not satisfied with that prodigious tally, which includes a Grade 1 winner in Japan in Soul Stirring – is that first top-level winner in Europe that has so far eluded him, despite the best efforts of Cracksman, Eminent and Lady Frankel.

And what better way to deliver that than on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot, where Frankel signed off his own unbeaten racing career with victory in the Champion Stakes five years ago, 12 months after having taken the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at the meeting.

Cracksman could be the one to do it, as the Derby third and Irish Derby second is a warm order for the Champion Stakes after posting impressive victories in the Great Voltigeur Stakes and Prix Niel on his last two starts.

A testy subject for stud managers

How's this for a Champions Day treble: Big Orange in the Long Distance Cup, The Tin Man in the Sprint and Beat The Bank in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes?

All three are geldings, and if they did manage to win it would surely have independent stallion masters rolling their eyes once again, in a season when the fillies Enable and Marsha have taken key stallion-making races, a glut of top-class colts have retired to stud in France and, as per usual, so many of the most alluring sire prospects belong to Coolmore or Godolphin.

Beat The Bank: a top-class performer but no good for stallion masters

Lanwades Stud expressed its exasperation at the good run for geldings at Glorious Goodwood this year, when Battaash, Beat The Bank, Breton Rock and Here Comes When (the last two also entered in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) all won big races, tweeting: “this does seem to negate the whole idea of black-type racing, no?”

At least in Cracksman the Champion Stakes has a favourite who, being owned by Anthony Oppenheimer, seemingly has his future as a stallion up for grabs.

Dubawi has a way with the ladies

The identities of the sires who have supplied the ten runners in the Fillies & Mares Stakes bear an uncanny resemblance to those who regularly provide the dearest yearlings at any elite sale in Europe.

There are four runners by Dubawi including the first three in the betting – Bateel, Journey and Coronet – and two are by Galileo, one of them the other leading fancy in the race, Hydrangea.

Those two sires were also, incidentally, responsible for six of the top ten lots at Book 1 of this month's Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, where Dubawi and Galileo both recorded an average price of around £850,000.

The four sires to break the Dubawi-Galileo hegemony in the Fillies & Mares are Sir Percy, whose daughter Alyssa is out of a mare by Galileo; Monsun, sire of The Juliet Rose; Iffraaj, represented by The Black Princess; and Iffraaj's close relative Cape Cross, who has Horseplay.

The Black Princess is out of a daughter of Cape Cross, so is inbred 3x3 to Cheveley Park Stakes winner Park Appeal: Iffraaj's dam Pastorale, a daughter of Park Appeal, is a half-sister to Cape Cross.

Champions don't have to cost the earth

The Champion Stakes might be one of the richest races of the year but half the field are by sires who stood at fees of £12,000 or less when they were conceived – unlike the Fillies & Mares, where the likes of Galileo and Dubawi dominate.

The two by Galileo, Cliffs Of Moher and Highland Reel, are Coolmore homebreds whose sire is advertised as private, with a fee believed to be well into six figures, while Cracksman's sire Frankel is listed at £125,000.

Outsider Maverick Wave, who will presumably set a strong pace as he did in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, is by Kentucky stalwart Elusive Quality, who was offered at a fee of $75,000 in 2010, the season in which he was bred.

Poet's Word: his sire Poet's Voice stood at just £8,000 this year

Barney Roy is from the first crop of Excelebration, covered at a cost of €22,500, although the sire has since fallen into the affordable bracket, standing at just €10,000 this year.

The rest of this year's Champion Stakes field, though, gives hope to all breeders operating on more restricted budgets.

Poet's Word hails from the first crop of Poet's Voice, who stood at £12,000 in his initial season and was down to £8,000 by 2017; Brametot is among the oldest runners by Rajsaman, who was available at a fee of €4,000 when they were conceived; and fellow three-year-old Recoletos is by Whipper, who stood at €8,000 in 2013.

The other two Champion Stakes runners are sons of late, lamented sires - Desert Encounter (by Halling, who stood at £10,000) and Success Days (Jeremy: €6,000).

Since the Champion Stakes was switched to Ascot in 2011, two of the six winners have been by sires who could be termed cheapies and they were, most likely by no coincidence at all, the French-trained pair Cirrus Des Aigles (by Even Top) and Almanzor (Wootton Bassett).

A case of brotherly love in the QEII

Showpiece races on Champions Day have been won by pairs of siblings twice since it was inaugurated in 2011: by Deacon Blues and The Tin Man in the Sprint (The Tin Man attempts to make it a treble for their dam Persario in this year's renewal) and by Frankel and Noble Mission in the Champion Stakes.

The feat could be achieved again, with Lancaster Bomber lining up in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes five years after his half-brother Excelebration landed the race.

Excelebration: a half-brother to Lancaster Bomber and sire of Barney Roy

It could be a big day for the pair's dam Sun Shower – once sold to India for just €10,000 before she proved to be an able producer and was repatriated by Coolmore – as Excelebration's first-crop son Barney Roy would appear to hold a leading chance in the Champion Stakes.

Excelebration's breeder John Tuthill may have discarded Sun Shower but he has a young broodmare at his Owenstown Stud who has given him a shot at breeding a second Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner. Choose Me is the dam of Persuasive, second in the Sun Chariot Stakes last time out and with the assistance of Frankie Dettori in the saddle at Ascot. Choose Me has produced two other runners with Racing Post Ratings of 100 or more, one of them this season's Listed scorer Tisbutadream.

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The Champion Stakes might be one of the richest races, but half the field are by sires who stood at fees of £12,000 or less when they were conceived
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