The 2019 Flat season draws to an enthralling finale this weekend as the end of season gongs are handed out to the best performers on the day to decide the Qipco British Champions at Ascot.
The customary six race card is jam packed with household names including the irresistible Stradivarius hoping to complete a memorable season for the John Gosden team. It’s a fairly open card with no obvious pointers for this season’s renewals and this is certainly the case right from the opening race on the card, The Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes.
THE QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS SPRINT STAKES, 1335 ASCOT
The opening sprint championship looks a three way tussle between Advertise, Hello Youmzain and Make A Challenge. Advertise gets the nod on recent form with his Royal Ascot Commonwealth Cup victories and close second to Ten Sovereigns in the Darley July Cup. He looked to have a successful season after his 2 year old form put him only a few pounds behind Too Darn Hot.
Hello Youmzain comes into the reckoning after his Haydock Sprint Cup victory after a long break. However, the quality of the field in that race was questionable with many entries not running to their best.
THE QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS FILLIES & MARES STAKES, 1410 ASCOT
Enable originally held an entry for this race but now looks booked for a Breeders Cup trip after his heart-breaking second in the recent Arc hat trick attempt. This leaves a fairly open field although the current favourite Star Catcher looks a worthy market leader based on a run of three wins including Grade One victories in the Irish Oaks and Qatar Prix Vermeille at Longchamp.
The trip is his optimum distance and has a previous Group 2 win at Ascot. Stablemate Anapurna could be the biggest danger, Magical also expected to improve.
CHOICE: STAR CATCHER 2/1 with Coral
THE QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS LONG DISTANCE CUP, 1445 ASCOT
Stradivarius has pulverised this division into near submission this season and it’s difficult to see anything else getting near the John Gosden staying superstar.
Dee Ex Bee might be worth considering for an each way but the ground has gone against him, with the Mark Johnson 4 year old preferring a much livelier surface. Kew Gardens steps up to 2miles for the first time for Aiden O’Brien and may be an interesting danger.
CHOICE: STRADIVARIUS 4/5 with William Hill
THE QIPCO QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES, 1520 ASCOT
The main feature of the day is a tricky one to call. The French raider, The Revenant, holds favouritism and looks the one to beat after a devastating turn of foot landed The Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp recently.
He will absolutely relish the ground but faces stiff opposition from Benbatl who ran impressively last time out at Newmarket in a Group 2 over the distance. He will surely improve to set up this intriguing contest. The Revenant gets the narrow vote on the basis of his ability to handle the soft going.
CHOICE: THE REVENANT 11/4 with William Hill
THE QIPCO CHAMPIONS STAKES, 1600 ASCOT
The middle distance championship race has three joint favourites and a feast of Ballydoyle entries of which two, Magical and Japan, are at the head of the market. The latter looks strong after his King Edward VII Stakes victory at Royal Ascot and beating Crystal Ocean at York afterwards exemplifies the dominant form of this Aiden O’Brien three year old.
However, I’m tempted to ignore the big players and find some value with Hermosa, the Irish 1000 Guineas winner. He ran poorly last time out at Newmarket but at 25/1, he deserves another crack with a modest each way punt.
CHOICE: HERMOSA 25/1 each way with Coral and Betfred.
THE QIPCO BALMORAL HANDICAP, 1640 ASCOT
The recent Cambridgeshire winner, Lord North, holds favouritism but has gone up considerably at the weights so better value should be sought elsewhere although there’s no doubt that the Gosden trained market leader has bags of ability to land this.
Mordin, who finished a good 5 lengths 4th in the Cambridgeshire, looks far more favourably treated and gets the vote at a tempting 16/1. Has been the subject of some hefty recent market activity having seen his price chipped from 20’s into 14’s.
THE QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS FILLIES & MARES STAKES, 1410 ASCOT:
Star Catcher, 2/1 with Coral
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (18:00 15th October 2019) and are subject to change