Five more runners who could light up Champions Day
Long Distance Cup
Already a Group 1 winner after he toppled Big Orange at Goodwood, Stradivarius is an up-and-coming contender in the staying division and his ascent has hardly been stopped by defeat last time, given he was beaten just half a length in the St Leger.
Neither the trip nor track hold any fears for the John Gosden-trained three-year-old, who won the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot, and while Big Orange and Order Of St George have the track record, he remains the one with the most scope to improve.
Filles And Mares Stakes
Last in this race 12 months ago on what would be her final run for David Simcock, Bateel has developed into a true Group 1 mare this season for Chantilly trainer Francis-Henri Graffard. In her last three starts she has rattled off the progressive racehorse's equivalent of the perfect hat-trick: Group 3, Group 2 and finally the Group 1 Prix Vermeille.
At Chantilly, Bateel beat Journey and several others who could reoppose at Ascot. If she can confirm the form, it would be an affirming victory for the five-year-old and an irresistible statement from her emerging trainer, known mostly for his exploits with Erupt.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
The undoubted champion older miler has been nursing something of a bruised reputation since his defeat at Goodwood, but these are conditions under which he is comfortable and he is well placed to put right his defeat by Minding in this race 12 months ago.
Though the ground probably had a hand in the Goodwood debacle, Ribchester handles anything the right side of desperate, so Ascot in autumn should be a perfect platform for him to deliver a valedictory success.
Beat The Bank
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Any complaint levelled at Ribchester tends to begin with him confirming form all the time, rather than proving himself afresh. Which is unfair on the horse and his connections, who cannot magic up new opponents.
Beat The Bank arrives as a new foe, from the same source that brought Here Comes When to Goodwood. Beat The Bank could go one better than Bateel should he win, as he has gone from Listed races to the top level in three emphatic starts, running out a five-length winner of the Group 2 Joel Stakes last time. He, too, has shown himself adept on softer ground so should have no excuses.
It is October and we still have not seen the best of Barney Roy. Excuses can be made for each of his runs, and even his wins have offered promise of more still.
Explosive at his best, which was amply demonstrated when he overcame a poor position to win the St James's Palace at Royal Ascot, Barney Roy is the sort of horse who will seize any opportunity should the Champion Stakes turn muddling. Maybe then we will finally know his true worth.
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