Charlie McCann reckons 7-1 is great each-way value for John Gosden’s charge in the Long Distance Cup
Charlie gives his expert view on Champions Day at Ascot
Champions Day at Ascot is shapingup to rival both Irish Champions Weekend and Arc Day at Chantilly as one of the biggest and best cards of Flat racing, with Champions Series finale promising a blockbuster day of Group 1 racing. Both Group 1 highlights, the QE2 and the Champion Stakes, saw Europe’s two star 3yo confirmed as Champions with Minding winning a 7th Group One over Ascot’s straight mile and Almanzor winning the Champions Stakes to confirm his status as Europe’s premier middle-distance colt.
Neither will unfortunately be with us at Ascot, with the careers of both Minding and Almanzor, both kept in training as 4yos, curtailed due to injury giving an opportunity for others to claim their status as the very best. Minding beat the pair of Ribchester and Lightning Spear in the QE2 and her absence has seen Richard Fahey’s miler stamp his authority as the very best in his field.
Godolphin have historically disappointed with their runners at Champions Day thus far,but look set to make amends this year with Ribchester flanked by the likes of Harry Angel and Barney Roy elsewhere. Ribchester has won four times at the highest level this season, emulating his near misses last year with a track record in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and wins either side at first Newbury in the Lockinge and more recently by storming home to win the Prix Moulin in France. He is unopposable over Ascot’s straight mile and has absolutely no concerns about the ground.
The same can be said about Harry Angel, who blitzed a strong field in the Sprint Cup on heavy ground at Haydock,to better his July Cup success at Newmarket. Clive Cox’s 3yo has got better with every run this year and is likely to confirm the form with recent rivals The Tin Man, Limato and Tasleet.
The boys in blue are likely to be represented by Barney Roy in a wide-open renewal of the Champion Stakes – another who broke the track record at Royal Ascot. Godolphin pilot James Doyle got the fractions spot-on to win the St James’s Palace Stakes at the royal meeting and has been kept fresh after missing the Irish Champion Stakes last month. Churchill was backed into odds-on for that Group One contest and has plenty of questions to answer after a disappointing effort under Ryan Moore.
Moore was perhaps unlucky in failing to utilise a gap up the inside rail and I wouldn’t be quick to write-off a horse that was brilliant in both Guineas successes at Newmarket and the Curragh. At 6/1 with BetVictor he looks a fair price to bounce back,given his main market rivals are likely to head elsewhere. The likes of Ulysses, Highland Reel and Enable, all trading at single figure prices,are likely to head for the Arc and therefore miss the mile and a quarter Group One for Europe’s most prestigious middle distance contest.
Elsewhere, BetVictor are bottom price 5/4 for Order of St George to win the Long Distance Cup. However, I’m a big fan of Stradivarius and think he is a huge price at 7/1 for each-way backers. John Gosden’s 3yo showed a terrific attitude to battle back and finish third in last month’s St Leger at Doncaster and is proven over the 2m trip having lowered the colours of Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup.The classic generation receive 7lb from their elders and that could prove effect over the marathon trip.
Another 3yo expected to go well against her elders is Coronet,who failed to stay the Leger trip last month at Doncaster. John Gosden’s filly chased home Enable in the Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor meeting but prior to that showed a terrific attitude to win the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.She goes on any ground.
Champions Day at Ascot;
Champion Stakes – Churchill at 6/1 with BetVictor QE2 Stakes – Ribchester at 5/2 with BetVictor Champions Sprint – Harry Angel at Even Money with BetVictor Long Distance Cup – Stradivarius at 7/1 with BetVictor Champion Fillies’ and Mares – Coronet at 6/1 with BetVictor
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