Hot or not? Expert assessment of the Champions Day favourites
Ascot's British Champions Day brings the very best together for a season-ending crescendo of top quality racing. Here we run the rule over the key contenders for the five Group races.
Race: Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup
Over the last three years Stradivarius has won three Gold Cups at Ascot and proved the staying division's dominant force, so why is he an even-money shot? Well, he has been beaten twice in three attempts at this race – finishing third behind Order Of St George and Torcedor in 2017 and second to Kew Gardens last year – either side of a length and a half win.
He was an even-money chance the year he won, when beating the likes of Thomas Hobson, Sir Erec, Flag Of Honour, Desert Skyline and Cypress Creek – with just three lengths covering the field of six.
Here he is the same price against much stronger opposition, headlined by Irish St Leger one-two Search For A Song and Fujaira Prince, neither of whom he has met before, and for all defeats down in trip in slowly run races cannot really be counted against him, they have certainly dented his aura of invincibility.
Can he do it? Yes. Will he? It's hard to be sure.
Chance of winning: ***
Dream Of Dreams
Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes
For the previous two seasons Dream Of Dreams was something of a nearly horse, finishing second or third five times in 12 attempts in Group company. Then he was gelded.
It did not appear to have had the desired effect when he was second to Hello Youmzain in the Diamond Jubilee – the same place he filled behind Blue Point the previous year – but a first Group success in the Hungerford Stakes was followed swiftly by victory in the Sprint Cup and with the likes of Golden Horde, Hello Youmzain, Space Blues and Earthlight absent he has a fine chance to add another top level success.
He is a much bigger price than Stradivarius and faces weaker opposition comparatively, but like the superstar stayer his record on this day in particular can be questioned with two second-lasts to show for two efforts here.
Chance of winning: **
A seven-time Group 1 winner, she would likely have several more but for Enable as she was the wondermare's closest pursuer on a further three occasions.
She has a massive class edge on her rivals, won this in 2018 and landed the Champion Stakes on the same card last year, so clearly likes the time of year. The reason she is such a big price is she also holds an entry for the Champion Stakes, and for all this would be the easier race to win, the Champion Stakes carries more prize-money and prestige.
If she runs here she wins, if she runs in the Champion Stakes it could be the race of the day.
Chance of winning: ****
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Sponsored by Qipco)
They say the only thing more alluring than a Victoria's Secret model is an unbeaten miler and, having started the season a shade of odds against in handicaps off a mark of 98, Palace Pier has the profile to make any racing fan swoon.
Two Group 1 wins followed, by a length in the St James's Palace from Pinatubo and Wichita in what was arguably the finish of the season, and by three-quarters of a length from the talented – and weight-receiving – filly Alpine Star in the Prix Jacques le Marois.
He acts on the track, handles heavy ground and has accounted for his elders, both of which he proved at Deauville. He is as close to bombproof as a favourite can get, for all he faces quality opposition in the likes of Kameko, The Revenant, Circus Maximus, Nazeef and Europe's reigning champion miler Benbatl.
Chance of winning: *****
Qipco Champion Stakes
Mishriff's season started with defeat in the Saudi Derby in February, but once racing resumed in Europe he really took off, landing the Newmarket Stakes en route to victory in the Prix du Jockey Club and Prix Guillaume d'Ornano.
Those wins, over a mile and a quarter on good to soft and heavy ground, mark John Gosden's charge as the one to beat while the margins, a length and three-quarters and four and a half lengths – both over The Summit – suggest he is improving, better the softer it gets, or both.
If it is one or other the Ballydoyle camp may be tempted to take him on with Fillies & Mares favourite Magical – if they fear it is both she may well end up in the softer option. It is questionable what his form amounts to at this stage, so perhaps expect her to run.
Chance of winning: **
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