Andy Stephens’ How To Bet £20 winners in the past six weeks have included Brorocco (14-1), Eartha Kitt (8-1), Neshmeya (11-2), Capri (5-1) and Dan Troop (5-1). His advice in this period has yielded a £318 profit.
By Andy Stephens
Storm Brian is not among the 81 runners declared for QIPCO British Champions Day but the menace from the Atlantic seems certain to make his presence felt.
The formbook tells us what horses prefer what ground but we have no evidence of which will rise to the challenge of being confronted by gusts of wind in their faces that are predicted to hit anything up to 50mph. With showers also forecast it certainly will not be for sensitive souls who enjoy their home comforts.
With the ground now soft and more wet stuff on the way conditions will be a challenge for humans and thoroughbreds alike.
Those horses who are usually covered up (at least in the races that look like being run at an even tempo) may well be at an advantage and I have also marked up those with the ability to stay further.
Course form, as always, will be another factor and I will jump straight into the fast lane by suggesting that Harry Angel is a terribly priced favourite at Evens for the QIPCO British Champion Sprint Stakes.
He is a smashing horse, that is not in dispute, but he has run three times at Ascot and been beaten every time. Away from the Berkshire track, he is unbeaten in four starts.
It seems apparent the demands of the stiff track at Ascot blunt his speed and Storm Brian is not going to make life any easier for him.
Also, on his past two starts Harry Angel has been pretty much allowed to do his own thing near the head of affairs but that seems unlikely this time with Team Ballydoyle/Coolmore sending three chums into bat with Caravaggio.
Two of them, Alphabet and Intelligence Cross, usually get on with things and could combine to leave the hot favourite vulnerable when it matters most.
Karl Burke’s filly, who will be having her final race, was superb when trouncing The Tin Man in the Sprint Cup on soft going at Haydock last season, having earlier landed the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot, and as a consequence went off 4-1 joint-favourite for this contest 12 months ago.
However, Quiet Reflection had been on the go all year and with her stable out of sorts at the time and the ground on the quick side she failed to fire.
This time she will be freshest in the line-up after just two runs this campaign, her yard can do little wrong and the going has come right for her. She looked as good as ever when zooming clear at Naas last time and the vibe from Middleham is that she has since thrived. Oh, and the year younger Harry Angel must concede 2lb to her.Quiet Reflection could become the first filly to win the big sprint on Champions Day since Lady Of The Desert in 2010 (PA)
French runners have had a miserable time on home and away soil this term, but look to hold the aces in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
The mud-loving Bateel is the most likely winner for them after her impressive defeat of Journey and Left Hand in the Prix Vermeille last time but she is down to 5-2 and, at those odds, I have two nagging doubts. Firstly, she ran lamentably in this race last year, albeit on a quicker surface, and, secondly, she is habitually held up and there looks like being little pace for her to aim at.
She generally likes to go forward and, drawn in stall one, is ideally berthed to gain what could be a soft lead.
A narrow Group Two success last time shows she is in decent heart and she had previously not finished that far behind Bateel on her belated return in the Prix Vermeille, having apparently had an interrupted preparation.
I also like the fact Nicolas Clement is equipping her with a first-time hood, not least because it will help her blot out the elements.
If this new headgear (he usually wears cheekpieces) brings about any improvement then the colt must go close because he has been a model of consistency in the top grade all year and his form ties in with all the principals.
A two-month break means he will be fresh and this will be the softest ground he has encountered since romping home in the Group One Criterium International at Saint-Cloud last autumn.
Ideally, I would have preferred it if he were drawn on the far side (where most of the action unfolded on Champions Day last year) but that might not be a problem with Ribchester, the overall form pick, drawn close by.
My other two fancies on the card are less fancily priced.
I was initially keen to take on Cracksman in the QIPCO Champion Stakes but the more I look at the race the more I am convinced the 2-1 chance with Coral and Sky Bet will win because the soft ground will bring his stamina into play, whereas such conditions will not play to the strengths of either Highland Reel or Barney Roy.
The horses Cracksman has thumped on his past two starts have done little to advertise the form but you can only beat what you are up against and the time he clocked when winning the Great Voltigeur stands close inspection.
Cracksman came close to winning the Derby and Irish equivalent in the summer, and now looks much more the finished article for all that he can hit a flat spot - a habit which masks the fact he has the pace to cope with dropping in distance.
Order Of St George looks banker material in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup because he is the class act in the line-up and acts on any ground, whereas conditions will be against Big Orange and, in all likelihood, the easy-moving Stradivarius.
Those keen to take Order Of St George will point to his defeat in this race last year at 4-6 after a valiant third in the Arc. He ran a similar race at Chantilly this time, when fourth, but he has had a week longer to recover and most punters seem to have forgotten the usually brilliant Ryan Moore gave him a rare poor ride 12 months ago when he sat way out of his ground in a slow-run contest.
Like Harry Angel, he is Evens. I know which of the two I prefer.
How To Bet £20 on QIPCO British Champions Day:
2.00 Ascot: Quiet Reflection £5 each-way at 7-1 with Ladbrokes and BetVictor
2.40 Ascot: The Juliet Rose £2 each-way at a general 20-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power
3.15 Ascot: Thunder Snow £2 each-way at a general 16-1
3.50 Ascot: Cracksman £2 win at 2-1 with Coral and Sky Bet
£2.50 Win Patent plus £2.50 win treble with Ladbrokes:
1.25 Ascot: Order Of St George (Evens)
2.00 Ascot: Quiet Reflection (7-1)
3.50 Ascot: Cracksman (7-4)