All eyes are fixed on Ascot this weekend as they host British Champions Day on Saturday, the final stopping point for brilliant Baaeed before he retires.
All eyes are fixed on Ascot this weekend as they host British Champions Day on Saturday, the final stopping point for brilliant Baaeed before he retires. Baaeed is the star attraction on a day littered high-class racing and many will anticipate William Haggas' inmate emulating Frankel with a farewell win in the Champion Stakes (4.00).
Baaeed has at various times this season both confounded and amazed the racing public. For many, the dash to compare him with Frankel was over-zealous after he ended last term winning the QEII on this card.
He twice put away Real World in the Lockinge at Newbury and the Queen Anne here in June before winning the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood without blowing anyone's mind in defeating Modern Games.
So it was at York in August for the Juddmonte International that Baaeed raced beyond a mile for the first and was asked, by plenty, to 'prove himself' in making it 10 wins in 10 starts. He had the answers. William Haggas' son of Sea The Stars picked off Mishriff and powered clear to win by more than six-lengths, the statement performance of his career so far.
Thoughts of the Arc were entertained but this race was selected as his final stopping point. Like Frankel, he's expected to sign off the only way he knows how, by obliging at odds of in the Qipco Champion Stakes (4.00) for another win. It will be massive shock if anything else transpires.
Ascot's big day kicks off with the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (1.25) where Trueshan is 15/8 to repeat last year's win. His weight-carrying performance in then Northumberland Plate this summer was sublime but Alan King's charge has been out of luck since, last month's Doncaster Cup second behind re-opposing chance Coltrane a bitter disappointment for his connections.
He may rebound now but this is no easy assignment. Both Coltrane and Quickthorn are capable opponents while three-year-old's Waterville for Aidan O'Brien and Roger Varian's Eldar Eldarov are big dangers in receipt of 9lb. The Irish horse is 10/3 after his improbable Cesarewitch win at the Curragh but Doncaster's St Leger winner Eldar Eldarov could be the one with more to give at for David Egan.
Not since the 1950s has any horse managed multiple wins in the Champions Sprint Stakes (2.00) – a race run under many guises in that timespan. Charlie Appleby's Creative Force is 7/2 to buck that trend with back-to-back wins, while stablemate Naval Crown is closely matched with him on form and trades at 10/1.
It's a typically wide open event, with Art Power, Brad The Brief and Commonwealth Cup winner Perfect Power at 10/1 for Richard Fahey amongst the possible challengers. Castle Star was second to Perfect Power in the Middle Park Stakes last season at Newmarket and returns to this 6f trip for the first time since – Fozzy Stack's runner could be an interesting player at .
Classic generation seek Fillies & Mares win
The Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (2.40) has been won by three-year-old's in seven of the last eight years. Epsom Oaks runner-up Emily Upjohn is 4/1 to continue that trend now for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori, while the Appleby and Buick axis relies on rapidly improving chance Eternal Pearl.
Both have leading claims on form, even if Emily Upjohn has to leave behind midsummer disappointment here in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes when she was simply too keen. A hood is deployed now to help her settle. Temperament certainly isn't an issue for Sea La Rosa, the Haggas filly with four wins in five starts this season including at Glorious Goodwood, Deauville and, a fortnight ago, in a Longchamp Group 1.
That was over 1m6f and the Sea The Stars filly has to cope with a drop in trip now but Tom Marquand's partner is a strong traveller and Ascot's testing finish is going to be a big help.
Dettori looks for QEII redemption By his own admission Frankie Dettori didn't give Palace Pier the best ride when they were second to Baaeed at this meeting a year ago. That may prove to be the closest the latter ever came to a defeat. This time around, Dettori partners 11/10 Inspiral in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (3.20) and she should be a tough nut to crack in taking on the likes of 7/2 Modern Games for Appleby and French raider The Revenant, to win this contest for a second time in his fourth appearance in it.
Inspiral has only one career defeat so far, second in the Falmouth at Newmarket this summer on a day when Gosden regretted running and Dettori had the weight of the world on his shoulders it seemed. He's bounced back since and so, too, Inspiral as she won the Jacques le Marois in France the following month against the boys. Based on her Coronation Stakes win here this summer, she may be too strong for her QEII rivals and it wouldn't be Champions Day at Ascot if there isn't a Dettori flying dismount.
It's not all about the Flat this weekend. There are National Hunt meetings from Market Rasen, Newton Abbot and Stratford too. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls will be hoping Harry Cobden can bring Pic D'orhy home in front in the Aubrey Loze Memorial Intermediate Chase (4.05) at the Devon circuit and the pick of his form from last season certainly gives him a major hope.
It could be a good afternoon for the Nicholls/Cobden alliance, with Silent Revolution likely to prove popular in the Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (4.35) that follows Meanwhile on Sunday, the first day of Kempton's new jumps season takes place, with the feature being the Listed Novices' Hurdle (2.50) over two-miles where a father/son combo of Gary and Jamie Moore with Teddy Blue will be hoping to get the better of Boombawn for brothers Dan and Harry Skelton.