British Champions Day 2016 Review

Alman Soars to Victory and Magnificent Seven For Minding

The British flat season was given a fitting send off on Saturday as Ascot’s British Champions Day once again provided a thrilling afternoon of racing excellence. The day began with something of a shock as Sheikhzayedroad took the opening Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.

Hot favourite Order Of St George didn’t really get going until all too late as the Davd Simcock star stayed on resolutely to land a sixth career Group success. Having been on the go since March, this seven year old has proved a credit to connections and if retaining his form will be a real threat in next seasons major staying contests once again.

Sprinters Step Up

The sprinters were up next in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes with the field more than living up to its Group 1 status. Big guns Mecca’s Angel, Twilight Son, Shalaa and Quiet Reflection all failed to fire, possibly feeling the effects of a long season. Conversely James Fanshawe’s The Tin Man reportedly hasn’t been quite right all year but certainly showed what he can do when on his A’ game here. Once looming up alongside the furlong pole there only looked likely to be one outcome and the gelding duly delivered, pulling away for a classy one length success.

Fillies Impress

Our next two contests belonged to the fillies with John Gosden’s, Journey, putting up perhaps the most visually impressive display of the day in the Fillies and Mares race, showing a blistering turn of foot to emphatically go one better than her runners up finish in the race last year.

Labelled as British Champions Day it was only fitting that the season’s top filly should shine once again on the big stage. Aidan O’Brien’s Minding has been spectacular at times in 2016 and showed all her speed and class to put the colts to the sword in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Now a seven time Group 1 winner at the age of just three, and at trips ranging from 7f to 1m4f, racing fans will be hoping she stays in training, although the lure of retiring her to the breeding ranks may prove too great.

Almanzor Dominates

Having finished only third in a Group 3 on his seasonal debut, few could have predicted that Jean-Claude-Rouget’s Almanzor would go on to dominate the 1m2f division in such emphatic fashion. The winner of the Prix du Jockey Club was seriously impressive in the Irish Champion Stakes last time out and was even better here in the British Version. The Arc winner, Found was made to look pedestrian in the closing stages once Almanzor turned on the turbo to firmly establish himself as the top three year old colt in training. Having missed the Arc this year, comments from connections seem to suggest that will be his major target for next season and he may well take some stopping. Bet365 make him the 4/1 favourite for that race.

Looking Ahead

With the stars of the flat for the current season already firmly established, the big race of this coming weekend features a field of potential future classic stars. Doncaster’s Racing Post Trophy for the two year olds has historically been one of the most informative late season contests. Winners since the year 2000 include the Derby winners High Chaparral, Motivator, Authorized and Camelot, St Leger heroes Brian Boru ad Kingston Hill as well as the globetrotting star, St Nicholas Abbey.

Connections of this year’s hopefuls will be hoping their charges can take this as a first step towards following in those illustrious hoof prints. As would be expected may of the top yards will be represented here, with Aidan O’Brien holding no fewer than twelve entries at the time of writing. Of these the grey Galileo colt, Capri is possibly top of the pecking order and may well start favourite.