Saturday 20th October – Ascot – 3:50 1m2f (1m 1f 212y) QIPCO Champion Stakes (British Champions Middle Distance) (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo+)

The Champion Stakes is a very well established event in the British racing calendar. Established in 1877 and originally run at Newmarket, by the end of the 19th Century five Classic winners had won the race. It has been run as a Group 1 event since the reorganisation of Flat racing in 1971 and is littered with famous winners including Ormonde in 1886, Pretty Polly in 1905, Polymelus the following year and more recently Sir Ivor, Brigadier Gerard and culminating in Frankel’s last win in his last race in 2012.

The race is open to horses aged three years old and over and in the 48 renewals since 1970 has only been won eight times by a horse over the age of four, although in the last 10 years it has been won by five year old horses on four occasions.

The race has only been won by the favourite four times in the last 12 renewals with eight of the last 12 winners being found in the first three in the betting. Winners priced as high as 14/1 have also won the event during the period under consideration.

Eight of the last 12 winners won on their previous start so current winning form is worth more than a second glance and nine of the last 12 winners ran within 42 days of the race. Only five of the last 12 winners had run previously at Ascot and only one winner had previously won at the venue. Winning form over the race distance of 1 mile 2 furlongs is a very important factor when considering a runner, with 11 of the last 12 winners previously winning at least once over the trip.

Experienced horses do well in the event so look out for runners with at least nine previous career starts, as 11 of the last 12 winners had run a minimum of nine times prior to the race. Ten of the last 12 winners had also won at least six times before the race.

Look for horses who have run at least four times earlier in the season as 10 of the last 12 winners had run four times or more before the race and 10 of the 12 had at least two wins earlier in the campaign.

An Official Rating of 117 of higher has been required to win the race in nine of the last 12 renewals and 11 of the last 12 winners had also previously won a Group 1 or Group 2 race.

Crystal Ocean won the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in June over 1 mile 4 furlongs but also has winning form over 1 mile 2 furlongs having a Group 3 win to his name over the trip. He acts in the ground and although he has yet to win at Group 1 level he did finish a very close second in the St Leger last year.

Cracksman has his last even run in the race after disappointing on his last start. His trainer John Gosden commented after that race that he had been “looking at the girls” who had run in the earlier race. He wears blinkers for the first time in his career in an effort to keep his mind on the job. It is rare to see a horse running in blinkers in a Group 1 race. Only 2.3% of runners have worn blinkers in a Group 1 race in Britain since 2003 and only eight of the 176 runners have won, with five of the six favourites also being beaten.

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