QIPCO British Champions Day on Saturday 19th October 2019 will see six outstanding races providing the finale to this summer’s Flat racing season and the QIPCO British Champions Series.

The story for each race – so far – is below:

1:30PM QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS LONG DISTANCE CUP (GROUP 2)

Total Prize Money: £450,000

  • Prize money breakdown: 1st: £255,195 – 2nd: £96,750 – 3rd: £48,420 – 4th: £24,120 – 5th: £12,105 – 6th: £6,075

Race Details

  • Distance: 2m (3200m) Conditions: Round Course | 3yo+ | No Penalties | Maximum Field 20
  • Next deadline: Second entries stage on Tuesday 1st October
  • Supplementary entries: £35,000 close by noon on Monday 14th October
  • Declare: 10am Thursday 17th October

LAST YEAR’S WINNER: STRADIVARIUS

The imperious Stradivarius capped his flawless campaign with a length-and-a-half victory over Irish raider Thomas Hobson. In the process the brilliant winner became the first Gold Cup victor since Pardallo, in 1968, to go through the whole season unbeaten. He also won the Matchbook Yorkshire Cup, Qatar Goodwood Cup and Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup. In a tactical renewal, Dettori made a racewinning move to grab the rail turning into the home straight. He edged both ways in front, costing his jockey a short ban, but nobody could argue that the staying champion was the best horse on the day.

POSSIBLE CONTENDERS THIS YEAR INCLUDE:

STRADIVARIUS
Trainer: John Gosden
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 9

The legendary Frankel chalked up a record nine QIPCO British Champions Series triumphs during his flawless career and the dominant Stradivarius drew level following his third Qatar Goodwood Cup on 30th July, with a thrilling victory over Dee Ex Bee on the Downs. His fan club is bulging but he was initially regarded as something of a party pooper when denying Big Orange a record third successive Qatar Goodwood Cup win in 2016. The villain has since become the hero with a string of peerless displays in the top staying races. The five-year-old retained his Gold Cup crown in June, having also won a second Matchbook Yorkshire Cup before that. His CV is also decorated by a Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup and last year’s QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup.

DEE EX BEE
Trainer: Mark Johnston
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 0

“Second sucks” said Mark Johnston after Dee Ex Bee had split Masar and Roaring Lion to finish runner-up in the Investec Derby last year. No doubt he was saying the same after the four-year-old had beaten all bar Stradivarius in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June and the Qatar Goodwood Cup in July. It was still a cracking effort, and one that confirmed he is among the best stayers in training. He had previously landed the Longines Sagaro Stakes, at Ascot, and Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes, at Sandown. Remarkably, Johnston has yet to saddle a QIPCO British Champions Series winner since the Series was introduced in 2011. Dee Ex Bee will surely provide a breakthrough for the winningmost British trainer before too long.

KEW GARDENS
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

Last year’s fluent William Hill St Leger winner was an intended runner in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June but had to be scratched after suffering a muscle injury. Aidan O’Brien indicated it was a minor setback and suggested he would not be on the sidelines for too long. He will be a fascinating contender when upped in distance as he’s shown he has reserves of stamina and yet also displayed high-class form over a mile and a half. Kew Gardens won the Group 1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris last summer and on his latest start was runner-up to Defoe in the Investec Coronation Cup. On his only previous start at Ascot he was an impressive winner of last year’s Queen’s Vase.

 

2:10PM QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS SPRINT STAKES (GROUP 1)

Total Prize Money: £550,000

  • Prize money breakdown: 1st: £311,905 – 2nd: £118,250 3rd: £59,180 – 4th: £29,480 – 5th: £14,795 – 6th: £7,425

Race Details:

  • Distance: 6f (1200 m) Conditions: Straight Course | 3yo+ | Maximum Field 20
  • Next deadline: Second entries stage on Tuesday 1st October
  • Supplementary entries: £40,000 close by noon on Monday 14th October
  • Declare: 10am Thursday 17th October

LAST YEAR’S WINNER: SANDS OF MALI

A surprise result but no fluke with Sands Of Mali making all and keeping on tenaciously to keep the top-class Harry Angel at bay. Richard Fahey’s three-year-old colt had found only Eqtidaar too strong in the Commonwealth Cup earlier in the season and was confirming his relish for Ascot. Harry Angel, running in his final race, had every chance but he could not claw back his younger rival and went down by a length. Donjuan Triumphant kept on to be an honourable third.

POSSIBLE CONTENDERS THIS YEAR INCLUDE:

TEN SOVEREIGNS
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

Money talks, so they say, and it was doing its best to shout before Ten Sovereigns ran in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket. Available at 10/1 overnight, the colt was heavily backed on the morning of the race and eventually went off at 9/2. Those who followed the cash were left celebrating as Ten Sovereigns rocketed to an emphatic all-the-way success in a finish dominated by the Classic generation (the first five home were all three-year-olds). It was concrete proof that last year’s Middle Park Stakes winner had trained on after earlier defeats in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas (stamina stretched) and Commonwealth Cup (possibly not at peak). Clearly not one to underestimate now he is back in the groove.

KHAADEM
Trainer: Charlie Hills
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 0

Charlie Hills scooped the QIPCO Champions Sprint Stakes with the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned Muhaarar in 2015 and the same combination look to have another live challenger in Khaadem. The Dark Angel colt was well-fancied for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June but was not at his best. He got back on track when runner-up in the bet365 Hackwood Stakes and looked every inch a Group 1 performer when romping home in the Unibet Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood last Saturday. The 32 Red Sprint Cup at Haydock would seem an obvious next target for him and, having had only seven runs, there could still be plenty more to come.

ADVERTISE
Trainer: Martyn Meade
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

It takes courage for trainers to shut up shop for several weeks when their horses are underperforming but that’s what Martyn Meade did shortly after Advertise disappointed in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas. Having been a Group 1-winning two-year-old, when also runnerup to Calyx and Too Darn Hot in top races, much better had been expected than his tame performance. Meade’s decision was vindicated when Advertise, dropped back to 6f, bounced back with a win in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June, as well as the Larc Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville on Sunday. In between he chased home Ten Sovereigns in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket. He’d had that horse behind him in the Commonwealth Cup and a third meeting between the pair on Champions Day is on the cards.

 

2:45PM QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS FILLIES & MARES STAKES (GROUP 1)

Total Prize Money: £550,000

  • 1st £311,905 – 2nd £118,250 – 3rd £59,180 4th £29,480 – 5th £14,795 – 6th £7,425

Race Details:

  • Distance: 1m 4f (2400m) Conditions: Round Course | 3yo+ Fillies & Mares | Maximum Field 19
  • Next deadline: Second entries stage on Tuesday 1st October
  • Supplementary entries: £40,000 close by noon on Monday 14th October
  • Declare 10am Tuesday 1st October

LAST YEAR’S WINNER: MAGICAL

Aidan O’Brien was responsible for six of the 11 runners and it was his principal hope, Magical, who hit the bullseye for him. Having run creditably in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 13 days earlier, she was always going sweetly and kept on stoutly after leading a furlong out to win by a length. She was chased home by the admirable John Gosden-trained Coronet, who had finished third a year earlier. Her stablemate, Lah Ti Dar, the William Hill St Leger runner-up, was another threequarters of a length back in third.

POSSIBLE CONTENDERS THIS YEAR INCLUDE:

MAGICAL
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

Magical was one of six runners for Aidan O’Brien in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes last year but was in something of a league of her own as she ran out a decisive winner. She followed that with a heroic effort in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs when beaten three quarters of a length by Enable. This year she has been busy and continued to thrive, landing pattern races at Naas and the Curragh before romping home by seven lengths in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh. Kept at a mile and a quarter, she then chased home Crystal Ocean in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes before again finishing runner-up to Enable in the Coral-Eclipse.

ANAPURNA
Trainer: John Gosden
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

Frankel was twice a brilliant winner on QIPCO British Champions Day and so was his son, Cracksman, runaway winner of the QIPCO Champion Stakes in 2017 and 2018. This year the baton has passed to one of Frankel’s daughters, Anapurna, who provided him with a first British Classic success as a sire when digging deep to win the Investec Oaks at Epsom in June. That was only her fourth run and, given she did not make her debut until late December, there is reason to believe there is still plenty of improvement in her. She also seems versatile with regard to the ground. The going was good when she scored at Epsom but had been soft when she previously easily won at Lingfield.

CORONET
Trainer: John Gosden
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 0

The daughter of Dubawi was third in the QIPCO Fillies & Mares Stakes in 2017 and finished second last year. So if the pattern continues it will be her pretty grey head that crosses the line first on 19th October. Her near misses on QIPCO British Champions Day formed part of a sequence in which Coronet was placed in seven Group One races without quite managing to win one. She finally struck at the highest level when winning the Grand Prix de SaintCloud on her latest start. It was a narrow success but a thoroughly deserved one, not least because she had lost by a nose in the same race 12 months earlier and had spent much of 2017 in the shadow of stablemate Enable.

3:20PM QUEEN ELIZABETH II STAKES (SPONSORED BY QIPCO) (GROUP 1)

Total Prize Money: £1,100,000

  • Prize money breakdown: 1st £623,810 – 2nd £236,500 3rd £118,360 – 4th £58,960 – 5th £29,590 – 6th £14,850

Race Details:

  • Distance: 1m (1600m) Conditions: Straight Course | 3yo+ | Maximum Field 20
  • Next deadline: Second entries stage on Tuesday 1st October
  • Supplementary entries: £70,000 close by noon on Monday 14th October
  • Declare: 10am Thursday 17th October

LAST YEAR’S WINNER: ROARING LION

Connections of the superb Roaring Lion had been torn over which race to run their star in on QIPCO British Champions Day. He had won the Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International and Irish Champion Stakes on his past three starts, having finished third in the Investec Derby before that, but the decision to drop him back in distance was vindicated as he gamely prevailed by a neck from the fast-finishing I Can Fly. Century Dream was another half-length back in third, with the next three home – Stormy Antarctic, Recoletos and Lord Glitters all playing their part in a stirring renewal.

POSSIBLE CONTENDERS THIS YEAR:

WATCH ME
Trainer: Francis-Henri Graffard
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

Charm Spirit (2014) and Solow (2015) have been recent French-trained winners of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Sponsored by QIPCO) and Watch Me will be on plenty of shortlists for this year’s renewal after her smooth success in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. The daughter of Olympic Glory, who himself won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in 2013, was a 20/1 chance at Royal Ascot but there was no fluke about her victory as she glided through the race under Pierre-Charles Boudot and was much too strong for dual Guineas winner Hermosa. Watch Me had previously been a luckless sixth in the French 1000 Guineas and was providing her trainer, Francis-Henri Graffard, with a first Group 1 winner in Britain.

MAGNA GRECIA
Trainer: Aiden O’Brien
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

Two of Aidan O’Brien’s four Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Sponsored by QIPCO) winners – George Washington (2006) and Minding (2016) – won a Guineas earlier in the season and it will be no surprise if Magna Grecia attempts to emulate them. The Invincible Spirit colt was an emphatic winner of the 19-runner QIPCO 2000 Guineas on his reappearance at Newmarket in May, beating King Of Change by two and a half lengths. He disappointed next time when only fifth in the Irish equivalent but he was subsequently found to have pulled a hamstring. As a consequence he had to skip Royal Ascot but every cloud has a silver lining and, on the plus side, he will be fresher than most in the second half of the season.

LORD GLITTERS
Trainer: David O’Meara
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

The demands of Ascot clearly play to Lord Glitters strengths and, effective on all types of ground, David O’Meara’s flagbearer will ensure the Classic generation do not have things all their own way on October 19. He came with his customary run from off the pace to master Beat The Bank by a neck in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, although the manner of his victory was not as dramatic as his win by the same margin in the 20-runner Balmoral Handicap on QIPCO British Champions Day in 2017 when he swept from almost last to first. In between, he was also runner-up in the 2018 renewal of the Queen Anne and another significant Ascot race, the Group 2 Summer Mile.

 

4:00PM QIPCO CHAMPION STAKES (GROUP 1)

Total Prize Money: £1,300,000

  • Prize money breakdown: 1st £737,230 – 2nd £279,500 3rd £139,880 – 4th £69,680 – 5th £34,970 – 6th £17,550

Race Details:

  • Distance: 1m 2f (2000m) Conditions: 3yo+ | Maximum Field 14
  • Next deadline: Second entries stage on Tuesday 1st October
  • Supplementary entries: £75,000 close by noon on Monday 14th October
  • Declare: 10am Thursday 17th October

LAST YEAR’S WINNER: CRACKSMAN

Always leaving them wanting more, the brilliant Cracksman signed off his career with a second emphatic success in the QIPCO British Champion Stakes. Equipped in firsttime blinkers to help keep his mind on the job, Cracksman ran a little in snatches but he galloped on powerfully in the closing stages to beat Crystal Ocean, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes runner-up, by six lengths. Cracksman had won the race by seven lengths 12 months earlier and became the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of any race on QIPCO British Champions Day. The race was also notable for Subway Dancer, the Czech raider, keeping on to grab third place at 66/1.

POSSIBLE CONTENDERS THIS YEAR INCLUDE:

CRYSTAL OCEAN
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

No trainer has had more Royal Ascot winners than Sir Michael Stoute but the first eight editions of QIPCO British Champions Day at the same venue have passed without him being able to celebrate a winner. Half of Stoute’s 16 challengers have gone off at single-figure odds but none have finished closer than second. Crystal Ocean has looked better than ever this season, enjoying a Group 1 breakthrough triumph in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, before going down narrowly to Enable in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes – the pair had a never-to-be-forgotten duel from two furlongs out with Enable edging ahead in the final strides. Crystal Ocean is versatile regards trip and ground, perhaps he will be the one to get cricket-loving Stoute off the mark.

ANTHONY VAN DYCK
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 1

The last Investec Derby winner to run in the QIPCO Champion Stakes was the Aidan O’Brien-trained Ruler Of The World in 2013. He finished a close third behind Farhh and Cirrus Des Aigles in a memorable renewal. It would be no surprise if O’Brien campaigned his latest Epsom hero, Anthony Van Dyck, in the same way. The Galileo colt ran seven times in four months as a juvenile and showed great resolution when digging deep to land a Derby in which five horses were in contention deep inside the final furlong. He had to settle for second in the Irish equivalent and disappointed in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes, but it is too early to be writing him off.

KING OF COMEDY
Trainer: John Gosden
QIPCO British Champions Series wins: 0

The St James’s Palace Stakes was no laughing matter for those who backed King Of Comedy. Sent off a well-backed 4/1 chance, he got a little squeezed at the start and was obliged to race in rear. Then, at the business end of the race he was switched left for a clear run and challenged widest of all. He finished strongly, but the line came too soon and he was beaten a neck by Circus Maximus. It at least proved the Kingman colt, kept to shallower waters in four runs before the Royal Meeting, was entitled to be swimming in the deep end with the big boys. Do not be surprised if he has the last laugh on QIPCO British Champions Day.

 

4:45PM BALMORAL HANDICAP (SPONSORED BY QIPCO)

Total Prize Money: £250,000

  • Prize money breakdown: 1st £155,625 – 2nd £46,600 3rd £23,300 – 4th £11,650 – 5th £5,825 6th £2,925

Race Details:

  • Distance: 1m (1600m) Conditions: 3yo+ | Maximum Field 20
  • Entries close: Noon on Tuesday 24th September
  • Confirmation: Noon on Monday 14th October
  • Declare: 10am Thursday 17th October

LAST YEAR’S WINNER: SHARJA BRIDGE

A first QIPCO British Champions Day winner for trainer Roger Varian, although it looked like he would have to wait for at least another year with two furlongs to run. Sharja Bridge was in rear at that stage with most of his 19 rivals to pass, but James Doyle conjured a great late surge from him and he eventually won going away by three quarters of a length. The winner traded at 149/1 in-running on Betfair. Lord Glitters had also come from well off the pace when landing the prize 12 months earlier. This time his trainer, David O’Meara, had to settle for second with Escobar.

HISTORY OF THE RACE

Named after the castle in Scotland that has belonged to the British Royal Family since it was purchased by Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, in 1852, the Balmoral Handicap was inaugurated in 2014. A race known as the Balmoral Handicap had previously been staged over five furlongs at the Royal Meeting, discontinued in 2004 in favour of the new Windsor Forest Stakes for fillies and mares. The Ascot Executive always intended to bring the name back when the appropriate opportunity arose, and Her Majesty The Queen graciously consented to it being re-introduced on QIPCO British Champions Day. The new Balmoral Handicap Sponsored by QIPCO, with its £250,000 race value, has quickly become established as one of the most prestigious events of its kind anywhere in Europe. In its inaugural running, the race could not have had a more popular winner than Marcus Tregoning’s Bronze Angel, twice the winner of the Cambridgeshire. In 2017 the race attracted a particularly strong field and was taken by Lord Glitters, who came from an impossible position to justify favouritism. He has since gone on to become a QIPCO British Champions Series victor, taking the 2019 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

What to read next on Eclipse Magazine