SDS Saturday: CHAMPIONS DAY blog

The flat season reaches its finale at Ascot on Saturday with QIPCO British Champions Day run on very different ground than we are used to for this meeting. It’s normally heavy or soft at best, but this year conditions will be nearer good to soft which means we have some really quality racing to look forward to.

There is also the small matter of the Jockeys Championship which is set to go down to the wire.

William (Buick) has worked so hard in recent weeks and done extraordinarily well to close the gap right down.

As for Oisin (Murphy), he just keeps riding those winners and there genuinely doesn’t deserve to be a loser between the pair.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog this season and I look forward to continuing when the season returns next Spring – obviously I’ll keep you posted in the meantime with any news.

Looking ahead to Saturday and I’ve got three nice rides to look forward to including Art Power in the Champions Sprint.

Here are my thoughts on all six races…

SATURDAY

ASCOT – QIPCO CHAMPIONS DAY

MORANDO – 1.25pm (Long Distance Cup) NON RUNNER

One horse who would have liked conditions to be worse than usual rather than better is Morando (pictured below) who I ride for King Power in the Long Distance Cup. I finished fourth on him in this 12 months ago when he’d have liked the ground heavier. He handles this sort of ground but is just a lot more effective on the bad stuff as he copes with it so much better than the majority of horses. He’ll stay well and run his usual solid race, it’s just whether he’s up to mixing it with the likes of Trueshan and Stradivarius. Of the two I slightly prefer Stradivarius at a track he loves. There is every chance he could be retired after the race and it would be great to see him go out on a high.

ART POWER – 2.00pm (Champions Sprint)

My best chance of a winner on the afternoon has to be Art Power (pictured below) in the Champions Sprint. The ground should be perfect for him and he was a nice winner at the Curragh last month in his prep for this. He was a good fourth in this 12 months ago and ran even better when third here at the Royal meeting in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Tim (Easterby) says he is in great nick and I was pleased to be drawn in 20 away from the speedy Glen Shiel. I’d just like to settle my fella into a rhythm and not get racing too early. He’s been finishing off his races better this season and I think he can go very close. Looking at the opposition and I probably fear Archie Watson’s pair of Glen Shiel and Dragon Symbol the most.

2.35pm (Fillies & Mares Stakes)

No ride for me in the Fillies & Mares Stakes which now looks to be at the mercy of Snowfall (pictured below). I guess a lot will depend on whether she has got over her exertions in the Arc, but even so she should be hard to beat. The likes of Invite and Albaflora will be there to pick up the pieces if she underperforms, but I guess that is unlikely.

3.10pm (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes)

The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes promises to be one of the races of the year, let alone the day. Palace Pier hasn’t put a foot wrong all season and meets the unbeaten Baaeed (pictured below).  I honestly don’t know which one will come out on top and it promises to be a titanic battle. When you consider the likes of Alcohol Free, The Revenant and Master Of The Seas are in there too, it will be one to savour.

FOXES TALES – 3.50pm (Champion Stakes)

The feature race of the day is the Champion Stakes where I partner Foxes Tales (pictured below) for Andrew Balding and King Power. He’s been really consistent this season and deserves a crack at a pot like this. We have put blinkers on him for the first time to sharpen him up a little although he’s going to have to step up a fair bit to mix it with the likes of Adayar and Mishriff. The pair set the bar really high and of the two I’d side with Adayar as long as he is over his run in the Arc.

4.30pm Ascot (Balmoral Handicap)

No ride for me in the closing Balmoral Handicap where John and Thady Gosden look to hold a serious hand with both Sunray Major and King Leonidas. Both could easily be well ahead of the handicapper and will be tough to beat. That said, one horse who could go well at a big price is Rhoscolyn. I won on him at Goodwood earlier in the season and he has improved dramatically since.

Good luck,
SDS


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