Boys in Blue to shine on Champions Day


Ascot stages British Champions Day on Saturday, the culmination of another fine season of Flat racing, and a resurgent Godolphin can enjoy a final flourish after what has been a rejuvenated campaign.

Champions Day has won its place in the racing calendar and the sceptics have been forced to reassess, with Ascot’s end-of-season showcase now getting the quality fields it desires.

There are scores to be settled on Saturday and rematches to sway old arguments one way or another. More of those later but for punters seeking to utilise their BritishchampionsdayFreeBet there is only one place to start.

Richard Fahey’s Ribchester has proved himself to be Europe’s leading miler this season and odds of 2/1 for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (15:15) look generous.

Bar a neck defeat in the Sussex at Goodwood on very testing ground, Ribchester has been faultless in winning a hat-trick of Group 1s this season. He’s had a nice break now and, with questions to be answered by the likes of 4/1 chance Churchill, can add the QEII prize he was denied by Minding a year ago.

Before he struts his stuff, expect to see Harry Angel (1/1) confirming his star-status by taking the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (14:00). Clive Cox’s runner can exact revenge on his Commonwealth Cup conqueror Caravaggio (4/1 here) for the record-chasing trainer Aidan O’Brien.

Harry Angel reversed that form in the July Cup and his blistering gear change and sustained speed burst last month in winning the Sprint Cup at Haydock suggests he’ll be hard to hold on Champions Day, where he is worthy of that term.

In the Long Distance Cup (13:25), Gold Cup one-two Big Orange and Order Of St George are set to re-oppose.

Order Of St George (5/4 favourite) is likely to overturn that form but he had tough race in the Arc recently and may be vulnerable (as he was in this race a year ago). Michael Bell’s charge, meanwhile, will be fearing the forecast rain and is tough to make a case for with the ground likely to be unsuitable.

It might pay to side with Jessica Harrington’s Torcedor, who has some excellent form, and is an each-way play at odds of 18/1.

In the Qipco Champion Stakes, all eyes will turn towards Frankel’s son, Cracksman, the 11/4 favourite for Frankie Dettori and John Gosden. He’s exceled over a mile-and-a-half this season but has some viable questions to answer dropping in trip.

St James’ Palace Stakes winner Barney Roy (9/2) is the selection in the big race. He rather cut his own throat in the Juddmonte at York, getting into a duel with Churchill a long way from home, setting things up for Ulysses to win as he did.

Rested up since, trainer Richard Hannon has vowed to get things right tactically now by delaying Barney Roy’s bid for as long as possible. Hannon was bullish coming here for the Royal meeting in June and has been making positive noises again, his stable star can cement a good afternoon for the boys in blue at Ascot!

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