CHAMPIONS DAY, or Frankel Day for many, is upon us and with this being the last chance to see him on the racecourse the anticipation is sure to reach fever pitch by 4.05pm!
He has lit up our racecourses with dazzling displays of speed and power and he will be asked to do it one more time in what could prove his toughest test yet and I suspect he will only win by at least five lengths this time. There is lots of top quality action to support and with Champions day still in its inception hopefully Saturday will be big day for British racing.
This will be my last regular column so I will be hoping to sign off well. We have had some near misses in the last couple of columns I will be hoping to end it with a couple getting their heads the right side of the line for us this time.
1.45 Long Distance Cup
Opinion Poll looks to hold a great chance of going one better than his last couple of efforts at Ascot. He was second in this race last year as well as second in the Gold Cup this year and in 2011 but this looks to represent a good opportunity for him. He came from furthest back of those in the front four in the Gold Cup with the race having been slowly run and though he just nosed his way to the front having quickened well from behind Colour Vision having raced prominently through out off the slow pace just had enough to battle back. Unlike his rivals he has been kept fresh since then with this race in mind and he looks certainly the one to relish the forecast softer conditions unlike some of his closer rivals and I think he will get the meeting off to a winning start for Godolphin.
2.20 Champions Sprint
I will not win any prizes for originality by saying I think Society Rock should prove a tough horse to beat in this race but he really does look the finished article this year after defeating Bated Breath comfortably and more importantly subsequent Foret winner Gordon Lord Byron in the Sprint Cup last time out. He can only really be seen to have disappointed in the July Cup this year when third behind Mayson but he bounced back straight after that when winning the Sprint Cup. He has generally always liked soft ground so it was a surprise to see him under perform in the July Cup and even more of a surprise to see him bounce off firm ground at Haydock last time out. I still think however he is best with some ease in the ground and he will be well suited to conditions today at a track where he has a fantastic record, his record reads 1,2,1,12,5 with three of those races coming in group one company and one of them winning last years Golden Jubilee. His let down actually came in this race last year but he looks to have been nicely aimed towards the race today and with Fanshawe having won the race last year no doubt he will have him peaking for the race today.
2.55 Champions Fillies And Mares
Great Heavens will be looking to bounce back quickly after her run in the Arc, all things considered given she was supplemented late and the conditions were absolutely terrible she did not run too bad a race. I am left wondering whether that race could leave its mark for the season however and perhaps she could prove vulnerable to a filly like Sapphire. She was an effortless winner last time out at Cork in what was in truth a poor group three but she is still a filly on the upgrade and especially around this distance I think we could see more from her yet. Her best form would come when second to Izzi Top in the Pretty Polly but I feel that trip was just shy of her best and having to make the running that day also was not ideal. She is nice and fresh coming into this stage of the season and with conditions in favour I think she could improve enough to go close.
4.45 Future Stars Apprentice Handicap
An open end to what will have hopefully proved a fantastic day and it could pay to take a little chance on Lightning Cloud. He has been well fancied when dropped in trip this season to dispute the Silver Cup and the Wokingham but I think he is certainly a better horse up at seven furlongs. He was a massively progressive horse last season winning five times between a rating of 69 and 89 and he looked likely to keep improving this season when coming back on the track with a good fifth place in the Victoria Cup. He was ridden up the centre of the track that day where the first four home and the sixth all raced to the far side but he was not beaten far and won ‘his race’ well in the centre. He is only two pounds higher now than where he finished last season and handicapped well on his Victoria Cup run. The stable have been in good form lately and there looks a strong chance he can bring Lightning Cloud back to his best.
1.45 – Opinion Poll (nb)
2.20 – Society Rock (nap)
2.55 – Sapphire
4.45 – Lightning Cloud