ASCOT’S decision to switch three British Champions Day races from the waterlogged Round course to the inner Flat course has taken some of the gloss off the most valuable day’s racing in the history of the sport in Britain, with a staggering £4.2m in prize money on offer across the six-race card.
As anticipated following the deluges of the past week, their contingency plan was confirmed on Wednesday meaning tomorrow’s (Saturday) Qipco British Champion Stakes, Long Distance Cup and Fillies and Mares will take place on the track more regularly used for hurdle races.
Conditions on the inner Flat course are described as good to soft, soft in places – whereas on the straight course, which will still be used for two other championship races including the Qipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the ground is heavy.
The Round course is currently waterlogged in places, resulting in the decision to switch.
MABS CROSS is set to tackle six furlongs for the first time in well over two years in the Qipco British Champions Sprint, but Darlington-based trainer Michael Dods has admitted the prospect of extremely testing conditions is a concern as she steps up in trip for what could be her swansong.
The five-year-old has won seven of her 19 career starts – a tally that includes a Group One success in the 2018 Prix de l’Abbaye, a race in which she finished fifth on her latest appearance.
HELLO YOUMZAIN easily handled the testing conditions at Haydock last month in the Group 1 Sprint Cup and goes to Ascot relatively fresh with Kevin Ryan’s charge only having made four starts this season and seven overall. The Haydock form is right up there with the best in the line-up and he can follow up.
Ascot brings out the best in LORD GLITTERS, who had a racecourse gallop at York before their final meeting of the year last Saturday and he will be bidding to outshine his rivals in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at 3.20.
In his six starts at the Berkshire track he has won twice and only finished out of the frame once.
David O’Meara’s six-year-old landed the Queen Anne earlier this year and his two best speed ratings have been clocked over Saturday’s trip and track, but history suggests that he might be vulnerable to a couple less exposed.
Aiden O’Brien’s star miler CIRCUS MAXIMUS has a big race in him and shouldn’t have a problem with the ground having won the St James’s Palace on soft while heavy ground should also suit VERACIOUS, who has Jason Watson up top for Sir Michael Stoute and is available at double carpet 33’s with Carrigill’s.
There are five Group races on the star-studded Champions Day card but one of the big betting races of the day is the valuable Balmoral Handicap which brings the curtain down on the meeting.
LORD NORTH heads the betting following his impressive victory in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket.
John Gosden’s lightly-raced improver will no doubt prove popular with punters under Frankie Dettori, but he has a 12lb higher mark and different ground conditions to defy now.
KYNREN finally won his big pot when landing the Challenge Stakes over 7f here earlier this month following several near misses.
He carries a 6lb penalty but the return to a mile won’t be an issue for David Barron’s five-year-old. He was fifth in this last year off 8lb lower, but it’s mud-lover MITCHUM SWAGGER that will carry my each-way dollars at 25/1 after dropping to a good mark for the red-hot Beckett yard.
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top 4): VERACIOUS, Saturday, Ascot, 3.20.
Augur’s best bet: MITCHUM SWAGGER (e/w), Saturday, Ascot, 4.40.