By Steven Dowler (@ArchitectTips)
Ascot's QIPCO British Champions Day extravaganza will have all eyes upon it on Saturday, including those of Tote Scoop6 punters with a rollover of £53,322 in the win pool offering the potential of a very tasty payout - particularly as some of these races are arguably a little easier to solve than can sometimes be the case in the Scoop6.
You can make your bet for as little as £2 and don’t need to have all six winners to collect a nice prize, with a separate place fund also on offer. I’ve put together an eight-line ticket, costing £16, to tackle this weekend’s kitty.
Best of luck and have a great weekend!
Leg 1 - 1:20 - QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2)
Selections: STRADIVARIUS & SEARCH FOR A SONG
The champion stayer STRADIVARIUS has led all before him in this division and although he wasn’t seen to best effect when only seventh in the Arc last time, John Gosden’s six-year-old undoubtedly brings the strongest form lines into the race. There is a minor concern would be that he’s been beaten in this race in two of the last three years, but he holds a class edge over these rivals and should at the very least reach the frame.
The one I’d recommend as a second option is Dermot Weld’s SEARCH FOR A SONG, who claimed back-to-back victories in the Irish St Leger when last seen. Form-wise, she looks the main threat to Stradivarius with a 3lb fillies' weight allowance to help. In the expectation that the softer ground won’t inconvenience her, this dual Group One-winning filly looks the most appealing alternative to the favourite.
Leg 2 - 1:55 - QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1)
Selections: DREAM OF DREAMS & GLEN SHIEL
A top renewal of this championship sprint race, so it might be worth having a couple on your ticket for the second leg of the Scoop6.
There’s no denying DREAM OF DREAMS flopped in this race twelve months ago but he’s looked a completely different proposition this season. He was a close second in the Diamond Jubilee here at the Royal Meeting and followed that with impressive victories in the Group Two Hungerford Stakes back in August and then the Group One Sprint Cup at Haydock. The soft to heavy ground won’t hinder his chances and his hat-trick prospects for trainer Sir Michael Stoute and champion jockey Oisin Murphy are clear.
Archie Watson’s GLEN SHIEL is another one who I find interesting. He’s a very likeable sort, who has been in top form this year, winning four times, including the Group Three Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh. He doesn’t have a lot to find with the favourite having finished an excellent second to Dream Of Dreams in his first attempt at Group One level at Haydock last month and he keeps on progressing.
Leg 3 - 2:30pm - QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1)
This is a tough race to weigh up for the third leg given half of the field are closely matched on ratings. Among the obvious contenders is Ed Vaughan’s Dame Malliot, who will arrive here on the back of a career-best performance. But she did have a hard race the last day and I’ll be opposing her.
John Gosden has had the winner in two of the last four runnings of this race and MEHDAAYIH shouldn’t be dismissed lightly. She did really well last term, winning three times, including a Group Two in France on similar ground to this and was far from disgraced when a close-up fifth in the Champion Stakes here last season having been denied a clear run.
She’s only been seen once so far this campaign where she needed the run when sixth in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes last time out but will strip fitter here and it’s significant to note that Frankie Dettori has opted to stick with her rather than stablemate Frankly Darling. I think her chance has been significantly underestimated and she’ll be our only representative on this leg.
Leg 4 - 3:05pm - Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1)
Selection: PALACE PIER
He’ll no doubt start a short-priced favourite to try and extend his unbeaten record but it’s very difficult to ignore the claims of John Gosden’s PALACE PIER, who has proved he is going-versatile by winning on ground ranging from good to firm to heavy. The form of his victory in the St James's Palace Stakes has worked out well. Palace Pier is handed a confident vote to maintain his unblemished record with six straight wins and provide John Gosden with a third win in the race in the last four years.
Last year’s second and French raider The Revenant will love the ground and warmed up for this race with an excellent Group Two victory. He looks sure to be in the mix under Pierre-Charles Boudot but he’s got to give 3lb to the market leader and he would need a career-best to beat him.
Leg 5 - 3:40pm - QIPCO Champion Stakes (Group 1)
The feature race on Ascot’s world-class card is undoubtedly the Champion Stakes and Aidan O’Brien’s Magical will be difficult to oppose for many in her bid to become a back-to-back winner in this event, but it’s quite possible that her gruelling battle with Ghaiyyath last time out could leave her vulnerable here and I’ll be taking her on with MISHRIFF.
John Gosden’s improving three-year-old - interestingly on an equal footing with the favourite on official ratings - landed a hat-trick in taking fashion in the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at Deauville last month and neither trip nor ground will be a problem for him here. He’ll be ridden by Frankie Dettori and although he lacks previous course experience, that ought not to be a concern.
Leg 6 - 4:15pm - Balmoral Handicap
Selections: GRAIGNES & NJORD
A highly-competitive handicap to conclude and one in which it's got to be worth playing at least two against the field.
GRAIGNES was a smart performer for previous connections in France. He will handle conditions and although he hasn't yet managed to scale those heights for this yard but has shaped encouragingly enough each time to suggest that he can still come good at some point. Now 6lb lower than when joining George Baker, he should be suited to the nature of this contest and its likely strong pace.
NJORD has been in good form all year and having won decisively back in June, he then ran an excellent race to finish fifth in the Irish Cambridgeshire on his penultimate start. He wasn’t seen to best effect in a Listed event next time, but must come under consideration this weekend off a 2lb lower mark back than his Cambridgeshire run. Tom Marquand is a particularly interesting jockey booking.
Leg 1: 7 & 11 Leg 2: 4 & 5 Leg 3: 4 Leg 4: 12 Leg 5: 9 Leg 6: 4 & 9
Total: £16 stake, 8 lines
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