Five talking points from British Champions Day


Matt Butler

Billed as possibly the finest single day of flat racing in British racing history, British Champions Day failed to disappoint, even if some of the favourites did.

In front of a crowd of 31,875, it was a horse from across the channel, the French-trained Almanzor, who stole the show by winning the feature race, the QIPCO Champion Stakes.

Let’s look at the five big talking points after a superb day of racing at Ascot.


Awesome Almanzor already aimed at next year’s Arc?

In the biggest race of the day, Almanzor unequivocally proved himself as the best-three-year-old colt around with a brilliant win in the QIPCO Champion Stakes for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget and jockey Christophe Soumillon.

Drawn in stall one, Soumillon pulled his horse wide and, after travelling well into the straight, the result soon looked fairly inevitable as he quickened away from Aidan O’Brien’s Arc heroine Found to win decisively by two lengths.

Almanzor, who missed this year’s Arc following his win in the Irish Champion Stakes last month, is already being lined for the Arc next season by his trainer, who is fairly confident his colt can stay the extra two furlongs. The star of 2016, Almanzor could well be set for to star once again in 2017.


O’Brien edges closer to Group 1 record thanks to Minding

It’s 21 Group 1’s across the world for Aidan O’Brien in 2016, four short of the long-standing record held by Bobby Frankel, after superstar filly Minding – notching the seventh Group 1 of her career – showed the boys how it’s done to win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in front of Her Majesty, who was once again present at Ascot.

Ryan Moore, amazingly gaining his first Champions Day victory as a jockey, was always sat in the perfect spot and once he asked Minding for her effort, she put the race to bed comfortably from Richard Fahey’s Ribchester.

With plenty of Group 1’s still available across the Atlantic, O’Brien is still in with a chance of matching, or perhaps breaking, that record.


Journey destroys the rest of the Girls

A narrow runner-up on this day last season, Journey had the best journey of them all as she made amends for that defeat by crushing her rivals in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Ridden behind the brisk pace set by Pretty Perfect, Journey quickened explosively in the straight under Frankie Dettori to leave her left behind in the distance, eventually winning by a dominant four lengths.

It was another prime example of the skill Dettori has at positioning his horses around Ascot, just weeks after the 20th anniversary of his famous magnificent seven.


The Tin Man finally fulfils his potential

He’s always threatened to do it at the highest level, but the James Fanshawe trained The Tin Man finally delivered at the highest level in arguably one of the most competitive sprints ever seen on these shores.


Five horses – the Tin Man not amongst them – had sprint successes at the highest level going into the race. That was soon to be six, as Tom Queally’s mount quickened smartly after being denied cover early on to finally land a blow on the biggest stage in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint.


Order of St George flops

By far the warmest favourite of the day, Aidan O’Brien’s Order of St George – who finished third in the Arc two weeks ago – flopped, finishing only fourth despite going off at one of the shortest prices in British Champions Day history at 4/6.


Instead, it was David Simcock’s Sheikhzayedroad who won the day’s opening race, the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, by half a length from Quest For More, a repeat result of last month’s Doncaster Cup.

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