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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Four of the best ready to light up Ascot on Saturday

The popular Big Orange will be ready to take on Order Of St George once more on Saturday
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Big Orange
Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup
Best odds: 5-1

The opening Long Distance Cup may be a Group 2 in status, but it is likely to be the best staying contest run in Europe all year.

Big Orange and Order Of St George are back for more after fighting out a truly memorable finish to the Gold Cup, and onlookers will be in for a treat if they serve up anything like they did at the royal meeting, a short-head all that separated them at the end of two and a half miles.

The teak-tough Big Orange, who has attracted an army of followers on the back of some heroic displays, finished second to Stradivarius at Goodwood last time, and John Gosden's three-year-old is another fascinating contender in what looks sure to be an explosive start to Champions Day.

Harry Angel: will be bidding to cement his position as the season's top sprinter

Harry Angel
Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes
Best odds: 11-10

Caravaggio, Harry Angel and Blue Point served up a right royal treat in the Commonwealth Cup, fighting out a thrilling finish to what was one of the most eagerly-awaited contests of the season.

Caravaggio came out on top that day but it is runner-up Harry Angel who is favourite to triumph on this occasion having since won the July Cup and Sprint Cup, with his most recent victory at Haydock –where he demolished his rivals by four lengths – the performance of a top-class sprinter.

Harry Angel was widely regarded as the best sprinter in Europe following his Sprint Cup triumph – and still is by many – but Battaash's explosive effort in the Prix de l'Abbaye has introduced an element of doubt to that debate.

Can Harry Angel, who still looks to be improving, respond with another effort right out of the top-drawer?

Ribchester: the leading older miler is one to beat in the QEII

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes 
Best odds: 9-4

Champions Day is all about the very best and when it come to milers, Ribchester has proved himself top dog time and again. His last eight runs have all been at the highest level, with four of those ending in success.

This season in Britain he has really come of age, with three wins from four runs, his only defeat coming on saturated ground in the Sussex Stakes. The four-year-old is without doubt the one to beat in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes; a race he has unfinished business with.

Last year Ribchester failed by just half a length to peg back star filly Minding, losing little in defeat, and the stage looks set for him to go one better at a track he won the Queen Anne Stakes at in June.

Cracksman: the son of Frankel has impressed on his last two starts

Qipco Champion Stakes

Best odds: 10-3

He may have come up short in two Classics but few horses have prompted as much debate as Cracksman has this season.

The will-he-won’t-he-run saga that surrounded the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was one of the big talking points of the season but with connections choosing to sidestep that challenge, he finally gets another shot at Group 1 company in the Champion Stakes.

Beaten a length in the Derby at Epsom and going down by just a neck in the Irish Derby a month later, Cracksman looked a more polished performer when bolting up in the Great Voltigeur and Prix Niel since.

The visual impression of those wins was that the boy had become a man but he will need to live up to expectation to take a down a field that could feature Ulysses, Barney Roy and Brametot among others.

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Can Harry Angel, who still looks to be improving, respond with another effort right out of the top-drawer?
E.W. Terms
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