There is just the one meeting on offer on the ITV schedule this coming Saturday, but it’s an absolute cracker, as the crew head to Ascot for British Champions Day. Six races make up one of the classiest cards held anywhere in the world, and all six will be beaming into your homes. The Qipco Champion Stakes tops the bill but is just one of four sizzling Group 1 contests, whilst the closing Balmoral Handicap provides something for big field handicap fans to get stuck into. Here, we pick out our best bets for a top-class day of action in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:15 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup
Group 2, 2m
The star stayers kick off the entertainment as a fascinating field of eight goes to post. Aidan O’Brien’s Kyprios (11/8) heads the betting, and if anywhere near peak form, he is the one they all have to beat. Unbeaten during a stellar 2022 campaign, his successes included the Ascot Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup, Irish St Leger, and the Prix Du Cadran by the small matter of 20 lengths. However, he has missed almost all of the current season following a joint infection and could manage only second in the Irish St. Leger last time out. Have those injury issues left a mark or will he bounce back to his brilliant best? It could go either way, but we aren’t getting much of a price to find out.
The John and Thady Gosden duo of Sweet William (10/1) and Trawlerman (20/1) make some appeal from an each-way perspective, but the most sensible option could be to side with the horse who has won this race in each of the last three seasons. Now seven years old, the Alan King-trained Trueshan (7/4) took a little while to come to the boil this year but is firing on all cylinders now. Outstaying Sweet William in the Doncaster Cup two starts back, he was even more impressive when pulling four lengths clear in the Prix Du Cadran last time out. Fine on soft ground and three from four over this course and distance, he can land the opener under Hollie Doyle.
1:50 Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes
Group 1, 6f
Frankie Dettori has a number of live chances on his final appearance as a British-based rider and gets the leg up on Kinross (7/4) in the big sprint on the card. Successful in this event in 2022, the Ralph Beckett star has been in solid form this season with wins in the Lennox Stakes and City Of York Stakes over his optimum distance of seven furlongs. He seems sure to go well, but this may be more competitive than those short odds imply.
Soft ground specialist Vadream was available at a double-figure price when the odds were initially released for this, but following the efforts of Storm Babet, the Charlie Fellowes filly is now only 6/1. Not beaten by much here in 2022, and with the ground set to come in her favour, she makes plenty of appeal, but the value may have disappeared. In a tricky contest, we will take an each-way chance on the William Haggas runner, Sense Of Duty (14/1). This daughter of Showcasing shot through the ranks last season, rounding off her campaign with an easy win over subsequent King’s Stand third, Annaf. Looking in need of the run when third on her comeback following a 455-day break, she at least handled the heavy ground that day and should strip much fitter here. Still unexposed, we may not have seen the best of her yet, and she can hit the frame.
2:25 Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes
Group 1, 1m4f
Frankie is again aboard the favourite in race three as he continues his partnership with the John and Thady Gosden runner, Free Wind. Last sighted finishing 13th of 15 in the Arc, she should find this easier, but is now zero from two in Group 1 events and bombed out on her most recent outing on heavy ground. However, something may have been amiss that day, as she took a soft ground Group 2 at Haydock last season in grand style. The form of her subsequent narrow second in the Yorkshire Oaks gives her sound claims.
Aidan O’Brien has landed two of the past three editions and relies on the three-year-old Galileo filly, Jackie Oh, this time around. Arriving on the back of a narrow second in the Prix de l’Opera, she is heading in the right direction but takes a step into the unknown over this trip. She still makes the shortlist, but narrow preference is for an each-way punt on the French raider Rue Boissonade. Already a Group 2 winner over this trip, she ran a fine race to finish fourth from an impossible position in the Prix Vermeille, before again unlucky in running when staying on over 1m6f in the Prix de Royallieu. With the likelihood that this may turn into a slog, her proven stamina makes her an appealing proposition to at least hit the frame.
3:05 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Group 1, 1m
The penultimate Group 1 on the card is set to be the classiest one-mile event of the season, with the winners of the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas and Irish 1,000 Guineas included in a stellar cast. Chaldean (11/1) represents the English 2,000 Guineas form but has gone slightly off the boil since, and needs to bounce back from a desperate effort in the Prix Jean Prat. However, that is by no means impossible with Frankie in the saddle. Irish 1,000 queen Tahiyra may prove more of a threat for Dermot Weld, having backed up that success in the Coronation Stakes and Matron Stakes, whilst the dropping back in trip Nashwa (9/2) is another filly to be feared for the Gosdens.
The French duo of Big Rock (15/2) and Facteur Cheval (14/1) are not to be dismissed lightly with conditions to suit, but overall, we see this going the way of the favourite. Paddington (13/8) may have been beaten in the Juddmonte International, but that was his fifth Group 1 in three months, and he now arrives on the back of a much-needed break. Already the winner of the Irish 2,000, the St James’s Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, he’s a perfect four from four over this distance and unbeaten on ground containing the word soft in the description. This is a high-class field, but he is worthy of his position atop the ratings and can use his potent turn of foot to winning effect.
3:45 Qipco Champion Stakes
Group 1, 1m2f
French raider Horizon Dore (11/4) has proved all the rage in the feature, with the son of Dabirsim heading into the race seeking a five-timer. He is clearly talented, but this will be his first crack at Group 1 company, and his most recent encounter with soft or worse going saw him comfortably beaten by Big Rock – who is only fourth best in the betting in the preceding race. That price looks pretty short in a field of proven Group 1 performers.
Bay Bridge (9/2) looks set to put up a bold defence of his title but endured a hard race when an excellent sixth in the Arc, whilst Via Sistina (8/1) looks interesting on the pick of her form this season. We suspect the class act in this field is the John and Thady Gosden-trained Mostahdaf. A stunning winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, he then conquered Paddington and Nashwa in the Juddmonte International. That’s the best recent form on offer here, and the colt’s record following a break of 58 days or more stands at a perfect six from six. Whilst effective on a quick surface, he is two from three on soft and should cope with conditions. The 4/1 on offer looks solid value.
4:25 Balmoral Handicap
Class 2, 1m
We drop down in class for the finale, but this looks set to be one of the most popular betting heats of the day. The Harry Eustace-trained Dockands (6/1) heads the betting, having already scored twice over this track and trip, including when getting up late in the Britannia Handicap at the Royal Meeting. He’s fully 10 pounds higher here, but arrives fresh and should go well for Hayley Turner. Lincoln winner Migration (8/1) is another to note at the top of the weights, with the rain in the area firmly in his favour. He will need a mighty effort to score under a welter burden of 10st1lb, but has been kept back for this since May and could be up to the task.
The class-dropping Raadobarg (20/1) is an attractive each-way option, but the one to get the vote is Al Mubhir (12/1) for the William Haggas operation. This one started favourite for the Lincoln back in May when touted as a Group horse in the making. He hasn’t quite lived up to that billing yet, but losing a shoe in two of his recent cracks at Listed company didn’t help his cause. It is his most recent outing in a handicap that makes him of interest here. That effort came in the Golden Mile at Glorious Goodwood, when he did remarkably well to finish as close as he did despite being repeatedly denied a run. Only four and a half lengths adrift of the winner, he hit the line full of running and is a pound lower here at a track which ought to suit. At a double-figure price, he looks like an excellent each-way option.