Champions Day: Will it be John Gosden glory or gloom?

By Harry Allwood@H_Allwood1
Fri 19 Oct 2018

John Gosden is on the brink of winning a third trainers’ title and, a little modestly, says he has a “nice team” to send to QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday.

Four of his nine-strong squad are short-priced favourites and bookmakers fear punters sticking them in multiples.

A four-fold accumalator pays just under 29-1 with the four hotpots in and is sure to be popular with punters.

Victories for Stradivarius and Lah Ti Dar by the midway point in the afternoon will have bookmakers on red alert, but will it be Gosden glory or gloom come 5pm?


Race: Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup. Odds: Evens

 Stradivarius with his owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen after landing the Lonsdale Cup (Focusonracing)
Stradivarius with his owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen after landing the Lonsdale Cup (Focusonracing)

Landed the Weatherbys Hamilton million-pound bonus when recording his fourth victory in staying races this season in the Lonsdale Cup at York.

Could only finish third in this race last year on soft ground and has had a hard season, which looked to be taking its toll in the closing stages at York.

Aidan O’Brien’s Flag Of Honour is on the upgrade and produced a career best to win the Irish St Leger at the Curragh in September.

The Galileo colt has been supplemented and seeks to give Ireland a sixth win in eight renewals of the race. He rates a potent threat receiving 8lb weight-for-age from Stradivarius.

Verdict: Gosden gloom - Flag Of Honour has thrived since stepping up in trip this season and can make the most of the weight Stradivarius must concede.


Race: Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes. Odds: 11-8

 Lah Ti Dar lost her unbeaten record in the St Leger (PA)
Lah Ti Dar lost her unbeaten record in the St Leger (PA)

Looked a potential star in her first three starts before losing her unbeaten record when second in the St Leger at Doncaster.

The drop back in trip will not a cause a problem, but she is yet to race on soft ground and there are several challengers who are already proven at this level.

Hydrangea, back to defend her crown, would be a threat if recapturing her spark and French-raider Kitesurf produced a good performance to win the Group One Prix Vermeille last time out, plus the return to soft ground will not be a problem for her.

Last year’s third Coronet is another who seems sure to run her race.

Verdict: Gosden gloom - Lah Ti Dar clearly has a big engine but at the prices I would rather side with Kitesurf, who bypassed the Arc in favour of this race.


Race: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Odds: 9-4

 Roaring Lion can stay on a roll at Ascot (Focusonracing)
Roaring Lion can stay on a roll at Ascot (Focusonracing)

I strongly fancied Roaring Lion for the Champion Stakes but, with the ground soft, believe connections have made the right decision dropping back to a mile.

The grey has plenty of gears and Oisin Murphy sounds confident that it will not hinder his chances.

The ground is the biggest question mark, although it was good to soft when he was touched off in the Racing Post Trophy last year.

Verdict: Gosden glory - Will take all the beating if he copes with the ground and, at 9-4, I’m happy to take a chance that he will.


Race: Qipco Champion Stakes. Odds: 10-11

 Cracksman will be equipped with first-time blinkers (Racingfotos)
Cracksman will be equipped with first-time blinkers (Racingfotos)

Produced an incredible performance to win this race by seven lengths last season but this year has not gone to plan since he made a successful return at ParisLongchamp in April.

Gosden has come up with an array of excuses as to why his star colt hasn’t been at his best in two starts since but he simply has not looked in love with the game.

We have not seen him on a racecourse for four months and connections now reach for headgear. There are enough negatives to put me off backing him at 10-11 in a race of this calibre.

Verdict: Gosden gloom - Crystal Ocean had been in great form this season and looks a safer bet than Cracksman.

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