Chris Dixon: Minzaal is my horse to follow from Champions Day

By Chris Dixon@cdixon82
Wed 20 Oct 2021

Following Chris Dixon's Notebook horses has paid dividends throughout the summer and the Racing TV pundit looks forward to 2022 in his latest column, as well as reflecting upon Saturday's action at Ascot.

Change and innovation is rarely ever met with universal praise in the early stages, indeed criticism often dominates – especially in horse racing.

As was the case when QIPCO British Champions Day was run for the first time, but after celebrating its tenth Anniversary at Ascot on Saturday, surely most of the detractors have now been won over.

The action on the track was fantastic, and though not all of the horses managed to bring their best form to the table - which has to be expected at this time of year, whatever the ground conditions – the day still produced some outstanding racing and brilliant performances.

Top of the list for me, and for most I suspect, had to be Baaeed, who maintained his perfect career record with a defeat of Palace Pier in a tremendous battle for the QEII. The pair are closely matched, but to me it confirms that Baaeed is the slightly better miler and given his style and pedigree suggest at some point he might be at least as effective over 10f, he remains the most exciting horse around.

Baaeed - potential to be at least as effective over a mile and a quarter?

The other enthralling battle of the past week was more prolonged as Oisin Murphy and William Buick fought for the jockeys’ championship. Again, when the format of the championship was changed it attracted widespread criticism, and I wasn’t really a fan, but in my opinion the past week vindicated the change.

If drawn out until the Doncaster’s November Handicap fixture international commitments (specifically the Breeders’ Cup) would often get in the way and deny the type of drama we’ve been able to enjoy. That doesn’t mean I think they have the format just right as it stands and a move to opening the title race at Doncaster’s Lincoln meeting would make plenty of sense.

Back to the title race we’ve just enjoyed, and it was great to see a couple of excellent riders performing at the top of their game amidst massive pressure right to the end. I’ve been lucky enough to have each of them ride horses I’ve been involved with in both victory and defeat over the past season and couldn’t have been more impressed with the professionalism shown and would like congratulate the pair of them on the season they’ve had and the intrigue they brought to what otherwise may have been a fairly bland midweek.

With all of that done there’s still some quality action to come in the dying embers of this Flat season but for this week’s tracker additions I’m focussing on horses that have run in the past week and though there’s little too far from left field here each horse appeals as the type who could progress and win races in the early part of the 2022 season.

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Eldar Eldarov

Trainer: Roger Varian.

A £480,000 purchase from the breezeup sales, Eldar Eldarov’s pedigree isn’t the type usually associated with horses at such sales (Dubawi out of a Listed-winning mare) and he looks like an exciting prospect for next season.

Having shown signs of inexperience, he picked up the leader to win impressively in the fastest time of the three one-mile maiden races on the card, galloping through the line strongly and taking a while to pull up.

In producing a high level of performance for a debutant, he looks the type to contest pattern races next term when a step up to 10f will suit.

Duty Bound

Trainer: Andrew Balding.

Duty Bound was well beaten into fourth on his debut at Nottingham on Wednesday, but did show some promise amid obvious greenness.

His effort is more encouraging when viewed through the prism of his extremely laid back pre-race demeanour while he also looked as though the run would bring him on plenty physically.

It may take a few runs to get him up to speed and he may be one to follow into handicaps over slightly further next season.


Trainer: William Haggas.

Anyone watching the Racing TV coverage from Haydock on Friday would have heard that my brother, Martin, was impressed by Mandobi in the paddock and, having backed that up with a promising debut, he looks a horse to follow into next season.

By Iffraaj out of a mare that improved with age, Mandobi’s three winning siblings didn’t make the track as juveniles so it’s encouraging that he was able to show the level of form he managed here on his debut as a two-year-old.

From a top stable but one that does not have a comparatively good strike-rate with juvenile debutants, he was clearly green but finished his race off well and should improve plenty both in the short, and longer, term.


Trainr: Alan King.

From the same race as Mandobi (which appeals as a good piece of form), Paradias finished in third spot and has since been allotted a handicap mark of 79.

Consistent in three starts so far, he’s a keen-going horse and appeals as the type to progress in handicaps where a stronger pace is more likely to allow him to settle and leave him with more to offer late on.


Trainer: Owen Burrows.

Champions Day could hardly have gone much better for the Shadwell operation with three winners on the card, while Minzaal’s third place in the Sprint should have given them a huge amount of encouragement for next season.

A Gimcrack winner at two, I’m assuming there had been an issue at some point since his third in the Middle Park last autumn, but he looks to have all of the juvenile ability plus a bit more judged on this career-best effort.

Sprinters so often find a bit more progress with age and racing, so after just six career starts, I wonder if Minzaal might yet be able to make his mark at the highest level next term.

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