British Champions Day takes centre stage at Ascot on Saturday and Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway returns with his best bets.
Kyprios and Trueshan head the market for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (1.15), but neither has shown their very best form this season and I’m keen to take both on.
Coltrane was beaten only a head by Trueshan in this race last year on good to soft ground and is definitely a better horse this season. He went off 5/4 favourite to beat Trueshan, giving him weight, in the Doncaster Cup last time but was undone by the muddling gallop in that contest.
Put a line through that run and Coltrane has the best form in the race this season. He has run to a Racing Post Rating of 119 on three separate occasions and that is better than anything that Trueshan has been able to muster, yet he is more than three times the price of that rival.
Coltrane loves Ascot - his form figures here read 1212 - and he could bounce back to his best.
Kinross will be hard to beat in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (1.50) if he reproduces last season’s best form, but he is six now and there are some quick horses taking him on. It’s worth opposing him at the prices with the improving three-year-old Mill Stream.
The Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained colt looked good on slow ground when easily landing back-to-back races at Deauville in August and ran well on faster going at Haydock last time.
Mill Stream ran two of the quickest furlongs in the middle part of the Group 1 Sprint Cup and probably did too much too soon. He was attempting to keep tabs on Shaquille and paid the price for going off too quickly in the closing stages, losing out by three and a quarter lengths.
He is better than he was able to show that day and might be capable of proving it now that he is fitted with a tonguestrap for the first time. William Buick is also a positive jockey booking.
The Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (2.25) is an open race and it’s worth giving Bluestocking another chance. She has been running well and can land a first Group 1.
Bluestocking finished second, third and fourth behind the top-class Warm Heart in the summer and produced her best effort when runner-up behind Savethelastdance in the Irish Oaks on soft ground at the Curragh in July. That proves she is suited by testing conditions.
The selection was unable to justify odds-on favouritism in a Listed race at Chester last time, but she swooped through and appeared to have won that race before being worried out of it by Al Qareem. That rival franked the form by winning the Cumberland Lodge here next time.
That is strong form and Bluestocking might be capable of better now she is fitted with first-time cheekpieces and returned to her favoured testing ground for in-form Ralph Beckett.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (3.05) comes up next and I’m keen to take on the hot favourite Paddington, who has had a long season. Back the French raider Big Rock to spring a surprise.
Big Rock beat everything bar Ace Impact when second in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly in the summer and lost out only behind the top-class Inspiral at Deauville next time.
Those are top-class efforts and Big Rock can be forgiven a disappointing odds-on defeat at Longchamp last time. The ground would have been quicker than he prefers that day and jockey Aurelien Lemaitre probably didn’t make the race a stern enough test from the front.
This stiff mile on testing ground at Ascot will be ideal for Big Rock and he might be capable of running the finish out of these rivals if Lemaitre goes a faster pace from the front this time.
The French have another big chance in the Qipco Champion Stakes (3.45) with Horizon Dore, but this one might stay at home with the progressive three-year-old Royal Rhyme.
The Karl Burke-trained colt has won his last three starts on ground with soft in the description and his last two wins have been remarkable. He hammered a top field of handicappers at Goodwood by six and a half lengths and won a Listed race at Ayr last time.
Royal Rhyme chased down Pride Of America, who had set a fierce gallop that day, and brushed him aside in impressive fashion. The front two pulled six lengths clear of the rest.
The selection needs to improve again in Group 1 company, but that last win had all the hallmarks of a top-class performance and I’m expecting Royal Rhyme to make a step up.
The Balmoral Handicap (4.25) brings the curtain down on the day and David O’Meara targets this race. He won in 2017 with Lord Glitters and last year with Shelir, so should be followed.
Both of those runners had a prep in the 7f handicap at the track two weeks before and this year he ran Blue For You in that race. That could be a pointer to the five-year-old’s chance.
Blue For You was a knockout eyecatcher in that contest too. He was settled out the back in last and got too far behind to be competitive, but went on to run the fastest last two furlongs in the field and finish three lengths behind the winner. He is better than that seventh suggests.
The selection is only 3lb higher than when landing a hot handicap at York last season on good to soft ground and he went off at only 7/1 for this race last year when racing off this rating. There is no way he should be three times that price now that he returns here 12 months later.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.