SILVESTRE DE SOUSA: Champions Day, Ascot Saturday

The flat season comes to its finale on Saturday with British Champions Day at Ascot. It’s usually a party-like atmosphere full of colour and noise, so it will be particularly strange behind closed doors this year. I suppose we just have to keep reminding ourselves how lucky we are to actually be racing and, with COVID cases on the rise, we have to be more careful than ever. I’ve got two nice rides to look forward to on the day and are my thoughts on them and the other four races are below.

Don’t forget to check out another edition of the Zoom Room with Bill and Luke below which I enjoyed recording as I was passing Stansted Airport in the car !!

🙂 AS A BONUS THIS WEEK: I have a signed pair of breeches to give away to one lucky reader. All you need to do is to head to the new Star Sports facebook page.

SATURDAY

ASCOT – CHAMPIONS DAY

MORANDO (1.20pm – Long Distance Cup)

The opening contest on the card where I ride Morando for King Power racing and Andrew Balding. I suppose it’s a case of the more rain the better for him and, in an ideal world, I’d like the word ‘heavy’ to remain in the going description. He’s reportedly in good form and has plenty in his favour including his love of Ascot. He shapes like this trip should be no bother and must have a solid chance. On paper Stradivarius should be very hard to beat, while Fujaira Prince is an improving horse.

ART POWER (1.55pm – Champions Sprint)

A race I won 12 months ago for King Power aboard Donjuan Triumphant and hopefully we have a good shout again this year. It was difficult to choose between Art Power and Happy Power, as they both have chances. I guess I chose Art Power because he is a little fresher having not raced last week. He won well at the Royal meeting and despite not firing in the Nunthorpe, ran better in the Sprint Cup last time. He won’t mind the recent rain and I may just hold onto him a little longer here. Sir Michael Stoute’s Dream Of Dreams, who finished ahead of us when winning at Haydock, looks the one to beat. As for Happy Power, he comes here in great form having won his last three. His stamina will be a big asset.

Fillies & Mares Stakes 2.30pm

No ride for me in what looks a wide-open renewal. I thought Ralph Beckett’s Manuela De Vega maybe somewhat the forgotten one in this. If she came here straight from her two successes at Haydock in the summer, she’d be nearly favourite. There is every chance she could get a soft lead here and, if that’s the case, she may take some passing.

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes 3.05pm

Another cracking renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with the obvious one looking to be Palace Pier for John Gosden. He has won all five of his starts to date on all ground, so will be very hard to beat. However, I just have a feeling that French raider The Revenant will go very close. He has had a light campaign, handles bad ground and ran well to finish second in the race 12 months ago. It promises to be a really good race and I’m looking forward to watching it.

Champion Stakes 3.40pm

The feature race of the day and it looks to be a cracker on paper. There is quality throughout the field starting from the very top to the bottom. I’ve always been a fan of the top horse Addeybb who finished second in this last year. He handles soft ground really well and seems to be a better horse this time around. That said, he will need to be as this year’s race looks a better one. I suppose the two to concentrate on are last year’s winner Magical and John Gosden’s exciting Mishriff. The latter seems to be improving with every race and handles the ground well. Whether he can beat a mare like Magical remains to be seen. If she turns up in the same form she was in at Leopardstown last time, she will be very hard to beat.

Balmoral Handicap 4.15pm

Finally, I had hoped to be riding in the closing Balmoral Handicap but my intended mount Revich was only second reserve. It looks as wide open as you would expect, but if I had to pick one it would be William Buick’s mount Blue Mist. Connections also have the well-fancied Tempus, but International Handicap winner Blue Mist looks the forgotten horse. Of the others, obviously Raaeq looks a really exciting prospect and deserves to be favourite.

THE ZOOM ROOM

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