Inside Track

Ken Pitterson reports from the climax of the UK Flat racing season, British Champions Day at Ascot.

  • Tuesday 20 October
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Ascot, Saturday 17th October

The ground according to the jockeys for Champions day at Ascot was soft and heavy and deep in places. 

Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2), 2m
 
TRUESHAN announced himself as a major player in Cup races by demolishing his field by seven and a half lengths. He looked in good order before the race and took a good hold in the first part of the contest, but once in a rhythm he travelled powerfully. When approaching the 2 furlong marker he shot clear to an impressive victory. Alan king looks to have a major contender for Cup races next year. 

Search For A Song, who was last seen winning the Irish St Leger looked very fit and was held up near the back. This chestnut filly made good headway coming around the final bend, but she could not live with the winner with well over a furlong to run. This was still a commendable effort. 

Fujaira Prince looked fine/well and proved that he can mix it at this level. Racing behind the leaders he tried to assert up the home straight, but all he could see was the winner galloping in to the distance. This lightly raced grey has still not reached the ceiling of his ability just yet. 

Morando who loves soft ground ran well on his first try at the distance. 

Sovereign got a little bit warm beforehand and I thought he ran a fair race. 

Horses that looked well were Spanish Mission, Mildenberger and Broome, who never got out of last place. 

Stradivarius looked in fantastic order figuring that he ran in the Arc 13 days ago, but this race has not been kind to him in the past and he was unable to put his best foot forward under these conditions. It will be interesting to see at the age of seven if he still has the appetite for the job next year. 
 

Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1), 6f
 

This was a breakthrough success for Archie Watson and Hollie Doyle thanks to GLEN SHIEL. This chestnut gelding looked in good nick and was quickly out of the stalls. Hollie didn’t go a break neck pace, but was able to control the race from the front. When the pack came to close her mount found extra and it was enough to hold on by a nose. The admirable Brando ran a cracking race in second and was just denied. 

One Master who looked tremendous paddock side ran her heart out in third and it looks like this is her final swan song as she heads off to the paddock. She has been a great advert for her trainer’s skills and this was a great finale.

The three-year-old Art Power looked a little dwarfed by these older rivals, but I thought he ran a superb race to finish fourth. For one that is so inexperienced at this level I thought this would do him the world of good going forward. 

Oxted looked fine after his 98 day absence and was a touch keen in the early stages. To his credit he hit the front with a furlong to go, but the ground looked as if it caught him out in the closing stages. 

Dream Of Dreams who started favourite looked the part, but I thought he travelled a little too strongly in the contest. He was the last one on the bridle approaching the 2 furlong marker, but his final effort petered out. 

Other horses that looked well given the time of year were Chiefofchiefs, Lope Y Fernandez and Onassis
 

Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1), 1m 4f
 

A lot of the contenders looked as if they had had enough of the season, but the winner, WONDERFUL TONIGHT, looked bright and well and produced a taking performance. Well to the fore from the start she seemed to take everything in her stride and when she was ridden to hit the front this daughter of Le Havre was not for catching. The trainer has big aspirations for this filly next year and hopefully she can contest the Arc. 

The gigantic Dame Malliot looked in good shape and was a little keen over the first 2 furlongs. She moved powerfully, but when she was asked to go with the winner she lacked the turn of foot necessarily needed to challenge. 

Passion looked fine and well and did well to come from almost last to fill bronze position. Mehdaayih looked well, but things did not go her way because she had to make a big move on the wide outside coming to the final bend and as she was closing in her final effort petered out. 

Even So, who is a grand type ran on through beaten horses in the end.  Frankly Darling, Gold Wand both looked as if they had had enough for the season.  Antonia De Vega looked well, but raced on the wide outside which completely hindered her chances. 


Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1), 1m
 

THE REVENANT went a place better than last year by recording his first Group 1 success. Considering this is only his second start since Ascot last year I thought this was a great training performance and this gelding by Dubawi turned up in tip top shape. Always well positioned he took the lead just with a furlong to go and had enough to overhaul the front running Roseman. On soft ground this horse is dynamite so it will be interesting if he can get the right conditions to maintain this form. 

Roseman who looked in good nick almost created a surprise. Out in front he was not really challenged and I like the way he found for pressure. I wonder if he can run this sort of race again because I feel he was just advantaged by the way the race panned out.

Palace Pier who looked the real deal over a mile came up short for the first time this season. He moved up with purpose on the outside, but he found very little off the bridle. I know he lost a front shoe but I don’t think that was the total reason for his downfall. 

Sir Busker ran a lifetime best in fourth. He did not look out of place in the paddock and produced a fine effort up the stand side rail. Other horses that looked the part were Dark Vision, Royal Dornoch and Molatham who was too keen for his own good.  I thought Nazeef and Century Dream looked past their best. 


Qipco Champion Stakes (Group 1), 1m 2f

ADDEYBB capped a wonderful 2020 by winning this Group 1 race. This chestnut gelding was glowing with health and it paid to sit closer to the leader. As he struck for home he showed a turn of foot which proved decisive and he left a decent field in his wake. The trainer has suggested that he may be on his travels in the winter months. 

Skalleti did not do it for me paddock side, but this grey gelding who loved the conditions tried to make a race of it from two out, but he was soon brushed aside. 

Magical who looked in rude health did not get the breaks in the closing stages, but I don’t think it made much of a difference with the result. She has been a top class performer in all the Group 1s for the last 5 years. 

Serpentine, who won the Derby this year, is a big lengthy unit and he led the field at a solid pace. He was simply outpaced as he galloped towards the line. He shaped like a stayer. 

Mishriff looked the part, but did too much in the early stages which saw him pay the penalty when it mattered. 

Lord North looked the part, but clearly misfired. 


Star performance of the day

This goes to Hollie Doyle, Tom Marquand and David Menuisier who all graced the top table by winning Group 1s at this prestigious event. Hopefully it will be the start of many throughout their careers.

Eyecatcher to note

Ocean Road, this daughter of Australia looked very green on her racecourse debut and was a handful getting in to the stalls, but she showed that she has plenty of talent by finishing second to the impressive Noon Star at Nottingham on Wednesday.

Inside Track
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