QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot tomorrow (Sat) has rightfully attracted some outstanding horses making punting a tricky affair, but following Aidan O’Brien might prove a wise move.
The Coolmore handler has the competition running scared and has raised the bar to new heights this year with his band of beautifully-bred sons and daughters of Gallileo.
He made history by saddling the first three home in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and swiftly followed up by dominating the big juvenile races at Newmarket.
Now, O’Brien is training his sights on Ascot’s £4.2 million showstopper. Final decisions on which horses run where are still under consideration, but he might just be able to tick a few boxes on the richest race day in the British calendar.
In the Qipco Champion Stakes, Arc winner Found is likely to take on the Jean-Claude Rouget’s raider Almanzour – who is the best middle distance colt in France – in the most eagerly awaited running since Frankel bade farewell four years ago.
Minding can pick up her seventh Group One victory if she drops down in trip to contest the Qipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. It seems to be the one the race connections are leaning towards and there’s little doubt she has the pace to handle a mile.
Order of St George looks the horse to beat in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup after running a great race to finish third in the Arc. This trio could make it another memorable day for O’Brien.
The Qipco British Champions Sprint is another cracking looking race and Karl Burke’s flagbearer Quiet Reflection will go to post as favourite, but the Commonwealth Cup and 32Red Sprint Cup winner finds herself in a race with tremendous depth.
There are five other Group One winners in the field, including Limato and Mecca’s Angel, but there has been some unwelcome coughing going around Burke’s Spigot Lodge yard in Middleham.
Burke has had a quiet spell so I can’t bring myself to stick Quiet Reflection, despite tipping her up to win the 32Red Sprint Cup, and will be siding with Librisa Breeze who I believe is capable of stepping up from handicaps to Group 1 company.
In September 16’s column I advised you to put Poet’s Vanity in your notebook after she was hugely impressive when winning at Salisbury second time out, and Andrew Balding’s filly took a significant step up in class in her stride last Saturday to land the visionsport.com Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket .
She momentarily looked in trouble under Oisin Murphy as eventual runner-up Glitter Girl challenged in the dip, and was briefly headed. However she found her stride again when meeting the rising ground and stayed on strongly to win by a length at a nice price of 13/2.
Murphy said: “It’s only the third run of her life so it’s very encouraging. She maybe didn’t handle the dip particularly well but she’s still learning.”
Balding hopes Poet’s Vanity can develop into a realistic contender for next year’s 1,000 Guineas.
He said: “She’s got a lot of physical scope, so she’s really one to look forward to next year.
“She showed she handles the track, so it’s exciting to think she might come back here in May.
“It looked like she was doing all her best work at the finish, which is really encouraging. I had to work her with a colt last week as she was demoralising the other fillies.
“We’ve got some nice two-year-olds going into next year and hopefully they’ll bring each other on. It’s nice that the horses are still running well at this time of year.”
AUGUR’S TIPS FOR THE WEEKEND: Librisa Breeze each way (generally 10-1) Ascot 2pm and Tylery Wonder Catterick Saturday 3.30pm.
AUGUR’S ONE TO WATCH: Eduard. With one eye on the forthcoming National Hunt season this is a seriously smart horse for Nicky Richards, who will be stepping up to three miles.