The Royal Ascot Champions Day
Although still in its infancy, Champions Day at Ascot has turned into one of the most eagerly anticipated flat meetings of the season. This meeting was put together to give horses an end of season target to aim for, and so far the entries and races we have had at the meeting have been very impressive. We have a couple of mouth-watering clashes to look forward to this weekend, and some real stars of the show on display. Every single race from the meeting is covered live on ITV, so if you want a bet you can sit back and relax with all six races on your TV. There are four Group 1 races on the card, along with a Group 2 and the meeting is rounded off with a 20 runner handicap.
ITV Racing Schedule
1:25 – Champion Long Distance Cup – Group 2
2:00 – Champion Sprint Stakes – Group 1
2:40 – Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes – Group 1
3:15 – Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – Group 1
3:50 – Champion Stakes – Group 1
4:30 – Balmoral Handicap
Here is a preview of the five group races that we have on the card on Saturday.
Champion Long Distance Cup
Although seven go to post for this one, this really looks to be a two-horse race between Stradivarius and Flag Of Honour. The first mentioned is the champion stayer this season without a question, winning four races to take him the £1 million stayers bonus that was on offer. However, it is fair to say that each time we have seen Stradivarius this season, his performances have got slightly worse. There is also a big question mark over the ground for him, and with him likely to go off at odds on, there are enough reasons to oppose him.
Flag Of Honour gets a pull at the weight being a three year old, and that could be what makes the difference here. He didn’t run too well at the start of the season, but is really thriving now and looks to be making up into a very promising stayer. He comes here in top form, and ready for a big run so I am more than happy to back him against the favourite Stradivarius in the opener.
Champions Sprint Stakes
This is a bit of a minefield for punters really, the race is full of horses that have run against each other before, and beaten each other before. It may be best to keep this simple and look for an in-form horse who will like the soft ground and if that is the case, then it is The Tin Man who looks worthy of a bet. He won at Haydock last time out on soft ground and the big open course at Ascot will give him plenty of room to make his move through the pack when the race hots up.
Elsewhere there are plenty more in with chances and one of the most intriguing runners is certainly Harry Angel. He has never performed when running at Ascot, but if he could put it all in at the weekend, there is no doubt that he is the best horse in this race. He has it all to prove though, which is why I am happy to oppose him here.
Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes
A race that revolves around one horse, and that is the highly promising Lah Ti Dar. I am hoping that she remains in training as a four-year-old because I do believe that she has enough in the locker to go all the way up to the top next season. However, I don’t think we will see her at her best this weekend on this soft ground. She suffered defeat for the first time in her last race which was the St Leger, over a 1m6f trip that tested her to the limit. That was tough on her, and she now has the softest ground she has ever encountered to deal with, that is enough for me to pass her over, but she is going to be a very special horse if she returns next season.
I am going to take her on with the French filly Kitesurf, a horse who has soft ground form to her name and comes here on the back of a good win in Group 1 company. Andre Fabre is a master when it comes to bringing his horses over to the UK and he wouldn’t be bringing her if he didn’t think she could come and win, that in itself is a tip. I am more than happy to follow him and go against the favourite with Kitesurf.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
The addition of Roaring Lion in this race instead of the Champion Stakes makes this a fascinating heat. The reason he comes here is because of the ground, John Gosden is hoping that he handles it better over this shorter trip, but with the switch in races it is obvious that they do have concerns for him. He is another favourite I am going to pass over because of the ground, and the horse I am going to take him on with is the admirable Laurens.
There is not a bad word to say about this horse, she has class, a great temperament and most of all she tries her heart out at every opportunity. The form is there for all to see, she has four Group 1 wins to her name this season, and five in total, as well as a fine second in the Guineas at the start of the season. Roaring Lion is a tough nut to crack, but you can guarantee that Laurens will be trying her heart out once again, and I am happy to side with her.
Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing Roaring Lion here, which is a shame but the duel between Cracksman and Crystal Ocean still promises to be a good one. There is no doubt that Cracksman has disappointed all season long, and every time he has run the horse has been given an excuse. Whether this is the ground or his temperament the fact is that he has no excuses here. The rain has come for him to give him the soft ground he prefers, and he will wear blinkers in the race to keep his mind on the job in hand.
Having said all that, I don’t believe that you can back such a quirky horse at Group 1 level with any confidence and for that reason, I am more than happy to oppose him with Crystal Ocean. Sir Michael Stoute’s horse has been rock solid this season, winning three group races before chasing home the hugely talented Poet’s World and Enable on his two other starts. He is straight forward, and certainly capable of winning a Group 1, so he is the bet for me in the final group race on the card.
Ascot Champions Day Betting Odds
Those looking to back the favourites this weekend will be hoping that John Gosden has a day to remember at Ascot because he saddles four out of the five group race favourites. Stradivarius is available at Evens for the Long Distance Cup, Lah Ti Dar is 6/4, Roaring Lion is 9/4 and Cracksman is 10/11. Many people will be putting those horses together in doubles and trebles this weekend, hoping that Gosden sweeps all that is before him.
Flag Of Honour can be backed at 9/4 against Stradivarius, while the French raider Kitesurf is available at the nice price of 5/1 against Lah Ti Dar. The Tin Man is 3/1 favourite to take the Sprint Stakes, while Laurens looks as though she represents good value at 7/1 against Roaring Lion. Rounding the day off, Crystal Ocean is priced up at 11/4 to beat Cracksman in the Champion Stakes.
Ascot Champions Day Betting Offers
Wiliam Hill – Bet Boost on Every ITV Race
With every race from Ascot live on ITV this Saturday, the William Hill bet boost is a great offer to take advantage of when you are placing your horse racing bets. You get one bet boost for every televised race, and this boosts the odds of your selection to ensure you are getting a fantastic deal. Bigger prices mean bigger returns and more profit, so make sure you are taking advantage of the William Hill bet boost this weekend.
Betfair – Free Bet Up To £25 With 3/1 or More ITV Winner
If you are backing on the live ITV racing then Betfair is the place to head if you want to bag yourself a free bet when you back a winner. Every time you back a winner on a televised race where the SP is 3/1 or greater, you will receive a free bet to the value of your stake up to a maximum of £25 on the next televised race. This offer gives you more free bets when you back more winners, so make sure you take advantage on Saturday afternoon.
10Bet – Free Bet Up To £10 is 2nd to SP Favourite at Ascot
The chosen meeting for 10Bet’s special offer on Saturday is Ascot, so be sure to look at this offer before placing your bets. This offer gives you a free bet to the value of your stake up to £10 if your chosen selection finishes second to the SP favourite in any race at the Champions Day meeting. If you are going to go against some of the favourites, and you would like something in place to cover your bet then this is a great offer to take advantage of.