David Lanigan is relishing the prospect of running his stable flagbearer Mitchum Swagger in the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday 15th October.
Lanigan also has the lightly raced four-year-old entered in the final race (4.25pm) on the QIPCO British Champions Day card, the £250,000 Balmoral Handicap, for which the weights have been revealed, but will instead aim for Group 1 glory.
Mitchum Swagger has yet to contest a race at the highest level but he was a fine third in the Royal Hunt Cup in June and ran as well as he has ever done when a head second to Hathal in the Group Three 32Red Mile at Haydock on his latest start.
“At start of the year this [the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes] was always the plan and after his latest run at Haydock I don’t see why we should not go for it,” Lanigan said.
“He’s run only one bad race in his whole life and his owners have had fun with him since day one. They are all keen to go for the QEII and he owes us nothing. The prize money is excellent and the day should be supported. We are all looking forward to it.”
Galileo Gold, winner of the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes, and Ribchester, who landed the Jacques le Marois last time, head the ante-post betting for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The pair are officially rated 10lb and 9lb superior to Mitchum Swagger but Lanigan is unperturbed.
“The better the race, the better he will run,” he said. “The ground is key to him. Anything between good and heavy is fine – he just doesn’t want any firm in it – and we know he likes the track. If they go flat out that would suit him down to the ground.
“In the Royal Hunt Cup he got stuck a furlong out from home and would have gone even closer without that. Last time, at Haydock, the ground was heavy and he probably just needed it but the form has worked out well with the horse of David Simcock’s who was fifth [Breton Rock] since winning a Group Two at Doncaster.”
Course specialist Librisa Breeze heads the weights for the Balmoral Handicap, which is run over a mile, having been raised 5lb for his dramatic victory over seven furlongs at Ascot last Saturday. However, Dean Ivory, his trainer, has indicated he will run in the £600,000 QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes earlier on the card.
· For tickets to QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 15th October go to www.britishchampionsseries.com