Gosden saddles 10 for Champions Day spectacular
The headline names, including Stradivarius, the Classic winners Anapurna, Phoenix of Spain and Magna Grecia and star Japanese filly Deirdre, have all been declared for the ninth Qipco Champions Day at Ascot tomorrow, despite fears heavy ground would mean some staying at home or opting to wait for the Breeders’ Cup in a fortnight.
Last year, John Gosden won the QEII with Roaring Lion, the Champion Stakes with Cracksman and the Long Distance Cup with Stradivarius. This time, he will saddle 10 runners in his attempt to regain the trainers’ championship – he leads reigning champion Aidan O’brien by approximately £730,000.
Three of them, Stradivarius, (Long Distance), Star Catcher (Fillies and Mares) and Lord North (Balmoral Handicap) are likely to be sent off favourites. “Have a treble on Champions Day and imagine you are going to do it again?” Gosden said. “You might be smoking your socks if you think that! We’ll be thrilled with one winner.”
Gosden stressed that, as he did last year, he would walk the course – essentially, the hurdles track – for Stradivarius tomorrow morning to make sure it was not too soft. “I did it last year and then discussed it with Bjorn Nielsen [the owner],” he said. “We decided to run and I hope we make the same decision.”
Frankie Dettori has chosen Star
Catcher over Anapurna, the Oaks winner, in the Fillies and Mares. “I think it was a difficult decision for him,” Gosden said. “He’s gone with the one with the longest gap between their races.”
The going at Brighton caused problems yesterday when a patch of false ground near the six-furlong mark meant only races of six and five furlongs could take place. Four races over further were abandoned.
As forecast on The Daily Telegraph business pages last month, it was announced yesterday that the UK Tote Group, formerly known as Alizeti, had completed its acquisition of the Tote, the UK’S pool betting operator for racing since 1928.
Winner: Stradivarius takes the Long Distance Cup for John Gosden last year