Great Britain Vs Europe at Champions Day

Champions Day

It’s getting closer, can you feel it? QIPCO British Champions Day – the ultimate raceday is taking place this Saturday!

Yet again this year the cream has well and truly risen too the top with a total of 19 Group One winners in each of the five British Champions Series races.

The best equine talent from across Europe will descend upon the sporting amphitheatre that is Ascot to do battle against the best of Britain for a share of a staggering £4.35 million in prize money.

QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup – 1:25pm

Great Britain: Stradivarius (10/11)

“It’s impossible” they said. “No horse could win four top level staying races in a row”. They were wrong, they were oh so wrong.

Stradivarius not only won four of the UK’s top staying races, he won them with authority and in doing so, secured his owners a cool £1million bonus.

The John Gosden-trained marathon expert has had a well-earned break since his last run and is said to be fresh for his final race this season.

However, this race won’t be a victory lap as Irish trainers Willie Mullins and Aidan O’Brien are sending their best over to take on the million pound horse.

Europe: Flag of Honour (9/4) and Thomas Hobson (10/1)

Taking on the much fancied Stradivarius are two of Ireland’s top trainers.

The Aidan O’Brien trained Flag of Honour leads Ireland’s hopes of landing the Long Distance Cup.

The three-year-old who looked just shy of top-class early on in the season has come alive over longer distances and has won his last three outings including last month’s Irish St Ledger.

Willie Mullins brings Thomas Hobson, a horse who has peformed with huge credit on both the Flat and over hurdles in his career.

The little chestnut gelding clearly has some decent flat speed and put it to good use when he won this year’s Doncaster Cup.

QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes – 2:00pm

Great Britain: The Tin Man (3/1)

The Tin Man is one of the most popular horses on the Flat and he finds himself at the head of the market in a wide open Champions Sprint Stakes, a race he won two years ago.

The James Fanshawe-trained six-year-old has finished inside the top three in over half of his career runs and looks a solid bet to give punters a good run for their money.

His performance in this year’s Haydock Sprint Cup raised some eyebrows as he put a quality field to the sword. If he can replicate that performance on Saturday he’ll be hard to beat.

Europe: Speak In Colours (25/1)

Aidan O’Brien’s son Joseph runs Speak In Colours in this contest and he will relish the testing six furlongs that Ascot has to offer.

He was outpaced in the Haydock Sprint Cup last time out but if you put a line through that run and acknowledge how open the sprint division is this year then Speak in Colours, could be one for an each way bet.

QIPCO Champions Fillies’ & Mares’ Stakes – 2:40pm

Great Britain: Lah Ti Dar (6/4) & Coronet (11/2)

Britain hold a strong hand in this contest with two of the top three in the market including the 6/4 favourite Lah Ti Dar.

The John Gosden-trained filly has been superb this season and was unfortunate to come out second best behind Kew Gardens in the St Leger.

Gosden was impressed with her performance and the three-year-old filly should be a key player in this contest.

The other main hope from Britain is gorgeous grey Coronet. Another in the care of John Gosden, Coronet was beaten by top-class rivals in Sea Of Class and Poet’s Word in her last two outings.

Europe: Kitesurf (5/1) & Hydrangea (9/1)

This is a truly European affair with French trainer Andre Fabre bringing his best filly Kitesurf to Ascot.

The Godolphin-owned four-year-old has won her last two starts in her native France and will be out to prove that she’s got what it takes to beat the British trained horses on their own turf.

Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien has sent over a whopping six horses for this contest with the best being last year’s winner Hydrangea.

The four-year-old filly got the better of Bateel to win the race last year but this year looks like it could be even more competitive.

QEII (sponsored by QIPCO) – 3:15pm

Great Britain: Roaring Lion (9/4), Laurens (7/1) & Lord Glitters (7/1)

The biggest news regarding this race is that Roaring Lion will run in this contest rather than the QIPCO Champion Stakes.

The lion has been a revelation this season, after finishing third in the Derby the John Gosden-trained colt has won three Group Ones in a row over the one mile, two furlong distance but steps down in distance here because of the soft ground.

Roaring Lion won’t have it all his own way though because if he is to win on Saturday he’ll have to beat the toughest filly in training, Laurens.

The three-year-old filly has been a model of consistency this year only finishing outside the top two in the Yorkshire Oaks.

This will be another tough test for her and she’ll have to be at the top of her game to get the better of a quality field, but one thing we know is if Laurens is in a battle in the final few strides Laurens will more than likely come out on top.

The British Challenge doesn’t end there though. A popular dashing grey named Lord Glitters, a winner of the Balmoral handicap on this day last year, returns to his favourite track in the hope of upsetting the established stars.

The five-year-old trained by David O’Meara has been extremely consistent this season and Ascot is seemingly a place that brings out the very best in him. He’ll certainly be in the mix coming to the line.

Europe: Recoletos (6/1)

Outside of Ascot Recoletos has a veryclassy record, the colt is up there with Europe’s best over a mile and he has also successfully stepped up to ten furlongs.

However, his record at Ascot isn’t the strongest and his trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias has sent him over with the aim to silence the doubters.

He’ll have a tough test on his hands when he faces a very strong British contingent in this race, but if he can convert his European form to Ascot he could spoil the party.

QIPCO Champions Stakes – 3:50pm

Great Britain: Cracksman (Evens) & Crystal Ocean (11/4)

A year is a long time in horse racing and in the eyes of Cracksman and his connection a year must feel like an eternity.  In last year’s Champion Stakes Cracksman, the son of Frankel, destroyed his rivals in one of the performances of the year.

However, this year he hasn’t quite sparkled in the same style. His trainer John Gosden says that he’s back to his best but his rivals will no doubt fancy their chances against the four-year-old.

One of those rivals is Crystal Ocean, the four-year-old trained by Sir Michael Stoute hasn’t finished outside the top two in all of his runs this season and he’s been unfortunate to run into both Poets Word and Enable in his recent starts. But this could be an ideal opportunity for the colt to earn his first Group One victory.

Europe: Capri (13/2)

Last year’s St Leger winner Capri has gone largely under the radar in the run up to this contest but the Aidan O’Brien trained grey should certainly be one to keep an eye on.

The four-year-old ran a great race in the Qatar Prix de L’Arc finishing fifth having been a pace setter for much of the race

He seems to be at his best during the autumn and he could come into the race at a tempting price.

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