We are now a month away from Ascot’s QIPCO British Champions Day – with four Group 1’s on the card, it is one of the most sought-after meetings in the flat racing calendar. All six races will be covered in our ITV racing tips, along with all of the free-to-air action on the build-up to Champions Day.
Our man Joe Eccles has taken a look at the current markets for Champions Day, finding three ante-post selections that – at the time of writing – are priced up at 8/1, 33/1 and 50/1.
The staying star Stradivarius is currently the odds-on favourite for the Long Distance Cup, but connections have been keen to point out that he is far from confirmed to contest the race.
Stradivarius has also recorded modest RPR’s in the last two renewals, looking visually unimpressive when beating Thomas Hobson last year.
With all of this in mind, he has to be taken on for ante-post backers.
With Kew Gardens, Cross Counter, Southern France, Best Solution, Master Of Reality, Constantinople and Ispolini all likely to be sent over to Australia – this race has the potential to cut up dramatically.
With that in mind, KING’S ADVICE looks worth backing at around the 33/1 mark. Mark Johnston’s charge has proved a revelation since joining these connections, winning eight of his eleven starts – climbing forty pounds in the handicap in the process.
He was only narrowly beaten in the Northumberland Plate on his only previous run beyond 1m6f, and although he is yet to run on ground officially described as worse than good in Britain – he was a winner on soft/heavy in Germany.
His awkward knee action suggests that – were the ground to come up on the soft side – such conditions could even bring about further improvement, and although he was beaten at prohibitive odds in what turned out to be a match at Salisbury latest, this test will suit far better.
Sands Of Mali ran out a shock 28/1 winner of this race last season, and there is a reason to believe another surprise could be on the cards in this year’s renewal.
Reigning Commonwealth Cup winner Advertise heads the market, but if the ground went anywhere near soft, he would have some questions to answer.
MAJOR JUMBO is currently a best-priced 50/1, and that price seems nowhere near a true reflection of his chances.
To put those odds into respective, he is only a few points shorter than Aidan O’Brien’s Yale, who has had just the one start to date – finishing twelfth in a Curragh maiden last month.
Kevin Ryan’s charge recorded a career-best RPR when landing a Listed race at Chester on his penultimate outing, and although he could only finish seventh in the Haydock Sprint Cup afterwards, the aforementioned Sands Of Mali had an almost identical preparation prior to last year’s victory.
That Haydock form has already received a notable boost, with the sixth home Fairyland landing the Group 1 Flying Five at the Curragh last weekend.
Major Jumbo has had two previous starts at Ascot, finishing third in competitive handicaps on both occasions – looking unfortunate not to win the 2018 Wokingham. That appears to negate any track concerns, and notably, he won his last two starts of 2017 and 2018, so this could be the time of year to catch him.
He is declared to run in the Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday, and a big run in that contest could see his odds for the Champions Sprint Stakes tumble.
By far my strongest ante-post selection for Champions Day is LORD GLITTERS in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
David O’Meara’s gelding could only finish sixth in this race last year, but he was possibly feeling the effects of a long season, which had started in March and seen him travel over to Canada to contest the Woodbine Mile just over a month before running here.
His form figures at Ascot excluding that run read an impressive 21221 – with his victories coming in the Balmoral Handicap on his card in 2017, and in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal Meeting in June.
The form of that Queen Anne success has worked out very well since, and it is difficult to see how Romanised is a shorter price than Lord Glitters with some firms considering that he was just under two lengths behind him there.
Beaten just four lengths into sixth in what looked a competitive renewal of the Juddmonte International latest, Lord Glitters had Circus Maximus directly behind him there conceding seven pounds, yet he has to give just three-pound to that rival at Ascot next month – so looks good value to confirm the form.
Versatile in regards to ground conditions – and with this always likely to have been his autumn target – it is doubtful that Lord Glitters will be running off an each-way price on the day.
For punters partial to an accumulator, it is worth noting that the ante-post treble is currently a best-priced 11,933/1 with Coral – who have a sign-up offer available on our free bets page.