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Qipco British Champions Day: read latest plans for the big names

Wed 3 Aug 2022

A number of Champion Stakes possibles have upcoming engagements which will go a long way to determining the cast for the showpiece event on Qipco British Champions day.

Vadeni, Adayar, Mishriff, Luxembourg and Baaeed will all be in action before the big race at Ascot on October 15, after which further plans will become clearer.

The next port of call for the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Vadeni after his Eclipse victory is the Irish Champion Stakes on September 10.

Georges Rimaud, racing manager to the Aga Khan, said: “Vadeni is entered in the Qipco Champion Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes. The Arc has not been on his calendar. Jean-Claude thinks he is more of a 10-furlong horse.

“He has been very well since the Eclipse and has now started his serious work in preparation for September 10. We are taking things one race at a time. How he performs in the Irish Champion Stakes will help us decide what is the next step.”

Baaeed and Mishriff are set to meet in the Juddmonte International at York on August 17.

Depending on how he goes on the Knavesmire, the unbeaten Baaeed could line up in the Champion Stakes or the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile.

Talk of whether he is the next Frankel continues unabated, but none of that fazes trainer William Haggas.

Asked how close he might be rated to Sir Henry Cecil’s giant when the time comes to retire, he said: “It doesn’t bother me.

“I don’t think you can compare the two horses. For me, Sea The Stars was just as good as Frankel but he did it in a different way. He won them all from the Guineas to the Arc and if he’d stayed in training he’d have won them all again, apart from the three-year-olds only races.

“Like Sea The Stars, Baaeed is not flash but he gets the job done. He doesn’t pull, doesn’t have to get a lead, just travels away and comes there cantering when the others are all off the bridle. He just keeps winning and he’s got gears. He takes it all in his stride and that makes it easy for us. He’s fantastic.”

Mishriff looked unlucky in the Eclipse and his chance in the King George was not helped when he was slowly away from the stalls. He ran in both races in 2021 before producing a brilliant display at York.

Joint-trainer Thady Gosden said: “Mishriff will run in the Juddmonte again first, but he’s run in the Qipco Champion Stakes the last two years. There are a lot of variables and we’ll see how he is after York and what the ground is like.

Lord North likes the track and also ran in the Qipco Champion Stakes last year. He had a busy enough start to the year, running in Dubai, so he’s having a bit of a break, but it’s definitely an option.

“With Nashwa it’s just a case of leaving our options open. She’s done really well obviously and she’s kept on improving, winning the Diane and the Nassau since not quite getting home in the Oaks. The intention is to keep her against fillies this year, but it’s good to have the Qipco Champion Stakes option.”

Aidan O’Brien is looking towards the Irish Champion for Luxembourg, who has been on the sidelines since finishing third in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The Ballydoyle handler said: “The plan is for Luxembourg to start back in the Royal Whip here in a few weeks. The next plan after that is that he will go for the Irish Champion Stakes.”

Winner of last year’s Derby and King George, Adayar has not run since finishing fifth in the Champion Stakes 12 months ago.

“I was delighted with Adayar last week when he had his first easy piece of work. He’ll probably run in the September Stakes (at Kempton) first, hopefully as a prep for Qipco British Champions Day,” said his trainer Charlie Appleby.

“We can make a call after the September Stakes about the Arc, but the Qipco Champion Stakes interests me. The Arc will most likely be run in soft ground, which is not to his liking, but the gamble will be on what the ground will be like come Champions Day. We’ll see.”

He added: “I’ve been wanting all year to drop him back to a mile and a quarter and I think it’s well within his compass to do it at that level. It will be good for him. Personally I’d love to see him at a mile and a quarter, but that’s me talking, not the horse.

“The most important thing is that we are now seeing the Adayar again that we were seeing in March. He’s back in good order and it’s exciting.”

Appleby also has Native Trail in the race, and added: “With Coroebus missing the Sussex Stakes the plan is for him to go to the Jacques le Marois, which was going to be Native Trail’s race. We’ll make a decision nearer the time – the team might want to run them both – but I see no reason why Native Trail couldn’t run in the Juddmonte.

“Native Trail didn’t not stay in the Eclipse. He was outstayed by good horses who will probably go on and do well at a mile and a half. He is in great order – he’s walking around on two legs! He’s entered in both the QEII and the Qipco Champion Stakes.”

Here's a look at the contenders for every race.

QIPCO Champion Stakes (£1.3 million) Group 1

 Baaeed wins the Queen Anne (focusonracing.com)
Baaeed wins the Queen Anne (focusonracing.com)

On the tenth anniversary of Frankel’s emotional swansong in the 2012 QIPCO Champion Stakes, racegoers can look forward to seeing Baaeed finish his own extraordinary career in similarly fitting fashion - provided his first attempt at further than a mile in York’s Juddmonte International Stakes in just over two weeks’ time passes as smoothly as his first nine races.

The world number one has understandably been given an entry in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) too in case he is found to be lacking in stamina. However William Haggas, who has always resisted comparisons with Frankel, is hoping that the four-year-old will sign off in the QIPCO Champion Stakes before starting a new career at stud.

Last week’s Qatar Sussex Stakes winner will not have things easy however, for competition is stiffer still over middle distances than at a mile and the QIPCO Champion Stakes has attracted a formidable entry of 42, which also includes last year’s Cazoo Derby winner Adayar, the Prix Du Jockey Club and Coral-Eclipse winner Vadeni, last year’s winner Sealiway, and three top-class entries from the Gosden stable in Nashwa, Mishriff and Lord North.

Haggas, who has also entered his 2020 winner Addeybb, Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Alenquer, last year’s runner-up Dubai Honour, recent Listed winner Grocer Jack and three-year-olds Maljoom and My Prospero, said: “We’ve got Baaeed for two more races, as he’s very likely to go to stud at the end of the year, so we want to enjoy him. He will hopefully go a mile and a quarter for the first time in the Juddmonte, and then we’ll see after that whether it’s the QIPCO Champion Stakes or the QEII, and then that’s the end.”

Asked if he thinks about how close Baaeed might get to Frankel, ratings wise, by the end of his career, he replied: “It doesn’t bother me. I don’t think you can compare the two horses. For me, Sea The Stars was just as good as Frankel but he did it in a different way. He won them all from the Guineas to the Arc and if he’d stayed in training he’d have won them all again, apart from the three-year-olds only races.

“Like Sea The Stars, Baaeed is not flash but he gets the job done. He doesn’t pull, doesn’t have to get a lead, just travels away and comes there cantering when the others are all off the bridle. He just keeps winning and he’s got gears. He takes it all in his stride and that makes it easy for us. He’s fantastic.”

Baaeed has yet to meet an opponent of Adayar’s calibre, and Charlie Appleby is itching to see what last year’s Epsom hero can do at a mile and a quarter when he finally returns to the racecourse following a respiratory issue.

Appleby, whose three-year-old Native Trail is also in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO), said: “I was delighted with Adayar last week when he had his first easy piece of work. He’ll probably run in the September Stakes first, hopefully as a prep for QIPCO British Champions Day.

“We can make a call after the September Stakes about the Arc, but the QIPCO Champion Stakes interests me. The Arc will most likely be run in soft ground, which is not to his liking, but the gamble will be on what the ground will be like come Champions Day. We’ll see.”

He added: “I’ve been wanting all year to drop him back to a mile and a quarter and I think it’s well within his compass to do it at that level. It will be good for him. Personally I’d love to see him at a mile and a quarter, but that’s me talking, not the horse. The most important thing is that we are now seeing the Adayar again that we were seeing in March. He’s back in good order and it’s exciting.”

Outlining plans for the Clarehaven entries, Thady Gosden, who holds the licence jointly with his father John, said: “Mishriff will run in the Juddmonte again first, but he’s run in the QIPCO Champion Stakes the last two years. There are a lot of variables and we’ll see how he is after York and what the ground is like.

“Lord North likes the track and also ran in the QIPCO Champion Stakes last year. He had a busy enough start to the year, running in Dubai, so he’s having a bit of a break, but it’s definitely an option.

“With Nashwa it’s just a case of leaving our options open. She’s done really well obviously and she’s kept on improving, winning the Diane and the Nassau since not quite getting home in the Oaks. The intention is to keep her against fillies this year, but it’s good to have the QIPCO Champion Stakes option.”

The stable’s Cazoo Oaks second Emily Upjohn is also entered here, as well as in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Francis Graffard has been training Sealiway less than a year, but he loves this meeting and has had one eye on the QIPCO Champion Stakes throughout. He confirmed: “We are looking at the QIPCO Champion Stakes for Sealiway again. He’ll probably run first in the Irish Champion Stakes or else stay in France for the Prix Foy, and he’ll then run in the Arc again, but we’ll be looking at Ascot again too.”

Vadeni, whose trainer Jean-Claude Rouget won the 2016 QIPCO Champion Stakes with Almanzor and has also entered Al Hakeem and Erevann, looks set to stick to a mile and a quarter.

Georges Rimaud, racing manager to the Aga Khan, said: “Vadeni is entered in the QIPCO Champion Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes. The Arc has not been on his calendar. Jean-Claude thinks he is more of a ten-furlong horse.

“He has been very well since the Eclipse and has now started his serious work in preparation for September 10. We are taking things one race at a time. How he performs in the Irish Champion Stakes will help us decide what is the next step.”

The QIPCO 2000 Guineas third Luxembourg, a long-time Derby favourite, is an interesting entry from Aidan O’Brien, who won with Magical in 2019 and also has High Definition, Broome, Tuesday and Stone Age, another one-time Cazoo Derby favourite, among a typically strong entry.

O’Brien said: “The plan is for Luxembourg to start back in the Royal Whip here in a few weeks. The next plan after that is that he will go for the Irish Champion Stakes.”

Joseph O’Brien has entered the much travelled State Of Rest (also in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes), whose Prince Of Wales’s Stakes win was his fourth at Group 1 level. Sir Michael Stoute’s Bay Bridge, odds on when second there and below form since in the Coral-Eclipse, is also engaged.

Jim Bolger’s 2021 third Mac Swiney is entered once again, while Eydon, not seen since his eye-catching fourth in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, would be an interesting candidate from the Roger Varian stable.

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) (£1.1 million): Group 1

 Coroebus beats Native Trail in the 2000 Guineas (focusonracing.com)
Coroebus beats Native Trail in the 2000 Guineas (focusonracing.com)

Coroebus and Native Trail head a strong entry for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Sponsored by QIPCO), in which last year’s winner Baaeed would only be likely to return if he failed to stay the extended mile and a quarter of the Juddmonte International.

The race has attracted a strong international field which also includes the runaway Irish 1000 Guineas winner Homeless Songs, impressive Coronation Stakes winner Inspiral, and high-class entries from France and Germany. Saffron Beach, who landed her second Group 1 this afternoon in the Prix de Rothschild at Deauville by beating among others Tenebrism, also receives an entry.

However, either Coroebus, who followed an impressive win in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas by landing the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, or last year’s top juvenile Native Trail, who won the Irish 2000 Guineas before finishing third in the Coral-Eclipse, would have to be high on anyone’s shortlist.

Immediate plans for the pair were upset when Coroebus missed last week’s Qatar Sussex Stakes with an abscess, but QIPCO British Champions Day, at which Native Trail also holds a QIPCO Champion Stakes engagement, was always on their agenda. Plans for Appleby’s Qatar Sussex Stakes runner-up Modern Games are focussed on the Breeders’ Cup, although he has an entry too.

Appleby said: “With Coroebus missing the Sussex Stakes the plan is for him to go to the Jacques Le Marois, which was going to be Native Trail’s race. We’ll make a decision nearer the time - the team might want to run them both - but I see no reason why Native Trail couldn’t run in the Juddmonte.

“Native Trail didn’t not stay in the Eclipse. He was outstayed by good horses who will probably go on and do well at a mile and a half. He is in great order - he’s walking around on two legs! He’s entered in both the Mile and the QIPCO Champion Stakes.”

Last year’s top two-year-old filly Inspiral ran below form when beaten by Prosperous Voyage, who is also entered here, in last month’s Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket. However, her near five-length defeat of previously unbeaten American filly Spendarella at Royal Ascot would put her right in the mix for a stable which has won two of the last five runnings, with Persuasive and Roaring Lion.

Thady Gosden said: “Inspiral is our main one for the QEII. Newmarket just came too soon for her after Ascot, which was her first run in a year, but she’s been very well in herself since and she’s obviously a filly with plenty of talent and worth her place in any of the top mile races. She’ll go in one of the other top mile races first probably, and that’s to be discussed still with Cheveley Park.”

Saeed Bin Suroor has entered the classy Real World. The five-year-old’s only turf defeats have been at the hands of Baaeed, when second in the Lockinge and the Queen Anne Stakes, but he is also being considered for an Australian campaign.

Francis Graffard’s autumn specialist The Revenant, who won the race two years ago and was in the frame in both 2019 and 2021, is among four entries from France, while last week’s Goodwood Group 3 winner Rocchigiani is a possible German runner.

QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (£500,000): Group 1

 Eshaada beats Albarova in last year's renewal (Focusonracing)
Eshaada beats Albarova in last year's renewal (Focusonracing)

Verry Elleegant could sprinkle some global stardust on QIPCO British Champions Day with the 2021 Melbourne Cup winner being strongly considered for the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

After capturing 11 Group 1 races down under, Australia’s Horse of the Year in 2020/21 has been transferred to the stable of Francis Graffard in France to be tested against some of Europe’s best horses.

Among her possible opponents could be the Cazoo Oaks one-two Tuesday and Emily Upjohn and also Magical Lagoon, winner of the Juddmonte Irish Oaks, plus the filly she beat at the Curragh, Toy.

Joining Verry Elleegant among the older contingent are Alpinista, the Sir Mark Prescott-trained winner of four consecutive Group 1 races, last year’s race winner Eshaada, and La Petite Coco, who gave trainer Paddy Twomey his first top level success in the Pretty Polly Stakes in June. They are among 56 entries for the 1m4f Group 1, a new record number of first-stage entries for the race.

Having arrived in Europe in May, Verry Elleegant has yet to have her first start, with her trainer pushing back her debut to later this month when she is due to contest the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville on 21st August.

“Verry Elleegant is a very well known filly down under but I need to see her running in Europe against European horses,” said Graffard.

“She travelled very well and she’s been amazing at home - very professional. She loves attention and is a smart mare who knows her job very well. I was expecting her to be more keen but so far she’s been very relaxed and everything has been very straightforward with her.

“It’s a lot of pressure but I’ll try my best and we’ll see. It will be very good for racing internationally if she can perform in Europe.”

Graffard, who has also entered Group 2 winner Sweet Lady and Baiykara, a Group 3 winner, added: “The Fillies & Mares at Ascot is a race I really like, and I was second in it with Bateel in 2017. The race is a definite possibilily for Verry Elleegant. It would suit her as she’s a staying filly and wouldn’t mind if it was soft ground.”

Tuesday defeated Emily Upjohn by a short head at Epsom, where the runner-up was considered an unlucky loser, but then finished well adrift of Westover after being supplemented for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

O’Brien suggested that race did not unfold to plan, saying: “The Irish Derby ended up being a race of two halves.”

O’Brien, who has entered eight in the race, added: “Tuesday was fine afterwards. We are thinking she will go to York for the Yorkshire Oaks next. She will be our main one in the Fillies & Mares, as well as Toy, who was second in the Irish Oaks.”

On her only start since the Oaks Emily Upjohn took on colts and older horses for the first time in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes but finished last of six, having pulled hard early in the race.

She could be joined by Free Wind who beat subsequent Lillie Langtry Stakes winner Sea La Rosa and Eshaada, when landing the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks.

Thady Gosden said: “We want to win a Group 1 with Emily Upjohn who has improved all year and was obviously unlucky in the Oaks. It was unfortunate that she over-raced through the early stages of the King George and didn’t get home, but she came straight back to herself. There’s the Yorkshire Oaks and good races in France before Champions Day, but the Fillies & Mares is definitely an option.

“Free Wind did well to win the Lancashire Oaks, where you might say that she met a bit of trouble in running, and she showed there that she had the speed to drop back to a mile and a half, so Champions Day is definitely an option for her.”

Eshaada, who could meet last year’s runner-up Albaflora in the 1m4f race, was caught up in the Lancashire Oaks melee, in which she eventually finished third.

Trainer Roger Varian said: “The race is one of her primary goals. We didn’t contemplate running in the Lillie Langtry. We know she is at her very best on soft ground and has very good course and distance form, finishing second in the Ribblesdale and winning the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares last year.

“It is likely she will have a run before somewhere in something like the Prix Royallieu or Prix Vermeille, but the race at Ascot would have to be her big autumn objective.”

Seven entries from the William Haggas stable include his Qatar Nassau Stakes third Lilac Road and Saturday’s Lillie Langtry Stakes winner Sea La Rosa.

QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes (£500,000): Group 1

 Creative Force is set to defend his title (Focusonracing)
Creative Force is set to defend his title (Focusonracing)

Creative Force will bid to repeat last year’s win in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint, in which an entry of 49 includes his stable-mate Naval Crown and the Darley July Cup winner Alcohol Free.

Outlining his plans for his two star sprinters, who occupied the first two places in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot as well as in last year’s Jersey Stakes, trainer Charlie Appleby said: “Both are entered. The logical one to work back with from QIPCO British Champions Day is Creative Force, who will have his prep run in the Bengough Stakes there two weeks beforehand. He’s simple because we know he goes on both quick ground and soft ground.

“With Naval Crown he’s a quick ground specialist, so we’ll look at the Maurice de Gheest and the Haydock Sprint and then see where we are.”

All options are open for Alcohol Free, who had the Appleby sprinters behind her in second and fourth when winning a fourth Group 1 at Newmarket. She confirmed herself equally effective at a mile in last week’s Qatar Sussex Stakes, finishing in third.

Trainer Andrew Balding, who has also entered last week’s Lennox Stakes winner Sandrine, said: “She’ll tell us where to go to a certain extent, but she’ll be entered in everything at Group 1 level from six furlongs to a mile, so that includes both the Sprint and the QEII (eighth of ten last year) on QIPCO British Champions Day.

“She’s thriving at the moment, so we’ll keep going. All things are possible, and with a filly who has already won four Group 1s we’ve got nothing to lose, but we wouldn’t want to milk it.”

Three-time Group 1 winner Perfect Power is supremely qualified for the contest having recorded two of his biggest successes over the course and distance. The Richard Fahey-trained colt won the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes last year and at this year’s royal meeting captured the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup.

He wasn’t seen at his best when at Newmarket last month where he could finish only seventh as the 9-4 favourite for the July Cup. He will try to atone in Sunday’s Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, with the QIPCO British Champions Sprint on the horizon afterwards.

“The QIPCO British Champions Sprint is definitely an option for Perfect Power,” said Fahey. “He never raised a gallop in the July Cup. He likes to come from off the pace but he got behind and those in front never stopped.

“Ascot seems to suit him better whereas at Newmarket I worked out they run 12 lengths quicker than they do at Ascot. His style is to drop in and come home and he can’t do that at Newmarket. He runs on Sunday in Deauville. He goes on any ground and although I think he is more a seven-furlong horse, he has won three Group 1s over six furlongs.”

Unbeaten filly Royal Aclaim heads the market for this month’s five-furlong Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York but a step up to six could beckon if she continues her upward trajectory.

Trainer James Tate said: “On pedigree you would say Royal Aclaim would get six furlongs, it’s just that at the moment she appears to have more speed than everything else which is why we have stuck her at five furlongs.

“When we come to the end of the season we will need options like the Champions Sprint. People tend to try something new at that point of the season so she will definitely be put in the race but we won’t be making any running plans until after she has run at York.”

Archie Watson’s 2020 winner Glen Shiel, beaten only a length into second by Creative Force when bidding for a repeat last year, is also among the entries, as is the David Evans-trained Rohaan, who is another Ascot specialist.

QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (£500,000): Group 2

 Trueshan will seek to complete a famous hat-trick (Pic: Focusonracing)
Trueshan will seek to complete a famous hat-trick (Pic: Focusonracing)

Trueshan has come out of last week’s Qatar Goodwood Cup third in good shape and trainer Alan King now has his eyes on a historic third successive win in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, which has attracted a high-class entry of 36.

The six-year-old was hugely impressive here in 2020 when gaining a career-first win in Group company and went on to win last year’s Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup and Prix Du Cadran before gaining his second QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup last October.

Soft going has been in short supply this year, and while Trueshan did well to finish on the heels of Kyprios and Stradivarius on quicker ground last Tuesday at Goodwood, it was some way below the level of his win 12 months previously.

King said: “The Long Distance Cup is a Group 1 in all but name and the two occasions Trueshan has won it already have been very special days, so it’s his main autumn target again. You would hope he’d get the softer conditions he enjoys best, and I’d relish the chance of meeting Kyprios again on our preferred ground, as Goodwood showed there’s not that much between them. For any horse to go back and win a race for a third time is terrific, so to do it in a race as good as this would be extra special.

“Before that there’s hopefully either York or Doncaster, and then the Cadran again, but he won’t go anywhere now until he gets some soft ground. We got away with it in the Goodwood Cup and he’s been fine since, but he’s not quite as good on that ground and you can’t keep running him on it.”

Kyprios, who had first announced himself on the Cup scene in emphatic fashion in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot six weeks earlier, is also a probable runner, but the 2018 QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup winner Stradivarius is not certain to take part.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has multiple entries, said: “Kyprios will go to the Irish St Leger first and then we will look at the Long Distance Cup at Ascot. He has form on soft ground so that wouldn’t bother him too much.”

The Long Distance Cup is not ruled out for Stradivarius, who has been a regular in the race, but retirement is looming and he is ground dependent.

Joint trainer Thady Gosden said: “The decision will be up to Bjorn Nielsen and Stradivarius himself, but he ran a big race at Goodwood and he’s still enjoying his training and his racing. He’s an extraordinary horse, and so long as he’s still in love with it he’ll keep running in these races.”

Last year’s Derby and St Leger runner-up Mojo Star, who has been saved for an autumn campaign since getting to within half a length of Kyprios in the Gold Cup on his reappearance, is a key entry from the Richard Hannon stable.

The dual Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song, who finished second in 2020 and is an older sister of Kyprios, is also among the entries once again, as is last year’s runner-up Tashkhan.

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