A Look at Champions Day
The 2019 British Champions Day took place at Ascot racecourse over the weekend and proved to be another exciting round from one of the most enjoyable fixtures on the British horse racing calendar. This was the ninth edition of the series which boasts no less than 35 of the UK’s best flat races. The series is run between 4 May and 19 October.
We got started back with the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in the spring and the curtain came down with the all-important British Champions Day on Saturday 19 October at the world-famous Berkshire course. The series is split into five categories – sprint, mile, middle distance, long-distance and fillies & mares with each section having seven races each.
Dettori and Gosden Dominate
The stats at the end of racing showed we went with two for the highest-rated horse involved in racing with the joint leaders being Enable and Crystal Ocean, both rated 128. Two names instantly recognisable to followers of horse racing, both casual and avid lovers of the game. Frankie Dettori lived up to expectations when being weighed in as the leading jockey. His stats read 14 wins achieved, as well as three seconds and a third.
The leading trainer prize went to John Gosden and that was another result that had been predicted by many in the know. Gosden sent in a large number of very talented horses and many of his runners were either favourite or very well respected in the ante-post betting for the top events. Many of his runners did as expected, proving the traders to be shrewd in that respect. John Gosden finished with a dozen wins, three seconds and three thirds.
A full list of results from the Champions Day series can be found below…
King’s Stand Stakes – Blue Point
Commonwealth Cup – Advertise
Diamond Jubilee Stakes – Blue Point
July Cup – Ten Sovereigns
Nunthorpe Stakes – Battaash
Sprint Cup – Hello Youmzain
British Champions Sprint Stakes – Donjuan Triumphant
2000 Guineas – Magna Grecia
Lockinge Stakes – Mustashry
Queen Anne Stakes – Lord Glitters
St James Palace Stakes – Circus Maximus
Sussex Stakes – Too Darn Hot
Sun Chariot Stakes – Billesdon Brook
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – King of Change
Coronation Cup – Defoe
Epsom Derby – Anthony Van Dijk
Prince of Wales Stakes – Crystal Ocean
Eclipse Stakes – Enable
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes – Enable
International Stakes – Japan
Champion Stakes – Magical
Yorkshire Cup – Stradivarius
Ascot Gold Cup – Stradivarius
Goodwood Cup – Stradivarius
Lonsdale Cup – Stradivarius
Doncaster Cup – Stradivarius
St Leger Stakes – Logician
British Champions Long Distance Cup – Kew Gardens
FILLES & MARES
1000 Guineas – Hermosa
Epsom Oaks – Anapurna
Coronation Stakes – Watch Me
Falmouth Stakes – Veracious
Nassau Stakes – Deirdrie
Yorkshire Oaks – Enable
British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes – Star Catcher
Bumper Crowd Turn Out for Champions Day
Saturday’s Champions Day at Ascot racecourse brought out a bumper crowd and it was little surprise to see large numbers flock to the Berkshire course. The schedule was made up of six races which took place between 1.35pm and 4.40pm. Each was shown live on ITV and Racing UK. A number of major online betting firms also offered customers free coverage of the event through their live streaming service. If you had bet on a particular race you were able to watch it through the HD quality feed at no extra cost. That means backers avoided the frustrations that come with checking a results service to see how their bets got on.
Five of the six races printed in the programme were Group races and no less than four of those fell into the Group 1 category. It is a real celebration of UK and Irish horse racing with the biggest and best names in the sport putting their reputations on the line for a place in the history books. Fans of horse racing clambered to get tickets for the event and they did the game proud by turning out and lending their support to everyone involved, done in high spirits and with no trouble to speak of. The British horse racing population did their bit for the cause, meaning it was down to the jockeys and horses to put on a show. They certainly did that, and with a bit to spare too.
The afternoon got up and running with the 2019 renewal of the British Champions Sprint Stakes. A Group 1 event run over six furlongs on what turned out to be heavy ground, it was testing conditions for the 17 runners that made it to post and punters were battling to stay on the right side of those who had proven form on similar ground. Not exactly easy at this time of year.
With over £330,000 promised to the winner of the race, it was little surprise to see the starting field read like a who’s who of British short distance sprint horse racing. We had joint-favourites in the betting with One Master and Advertise both going off at 4/1 but neither was able to land backers a return. In fact, the closest they got was One Master who finished second, a length off Donjuan Triumphant who scored at a big price.
The champion delighted backers when upsetting the odds at an incredible 33/1. The Balding and De Sousa team had been written off before the start of the race and the SP betting suggested the best backers could hope for was to force a place and bag a return on each-way bets. Big-time racing in this part of the country rarely follows the script, however, and the result of this one seemed to set the pace for the afternoon ahead. Backing the shortest price runner on Champions Day doesn’t necessarily earn punters a profit. That has been the case for many years in the past and proved to be correct again on Saturday.
Kew Gardens in Full Bloom
Next up was the Long Distance Cup and this was decided over 1m 7f on ground that was sold as good to soft, soft in places and that was near perfect for a contest of this nature. A Group 2 race, over £255,000 was handed to the champion and that cheque was made payable to connections of Kew Gardens who was another to upset the odds.
Stradivarius went to post as an 8/13 favourite with the bookies and that was no surprise given just how good Gosden’s runner had been during the Champions Series. He was priced like losing wasn’t an option and appeared in more than a fair share of accumulators on the day, backers convinced the jolly would live up to expectations and grant them another profit. In the end, the market leader finished a nose behind Kew Gardens in what was a stunning finish. The O’Brien team scored at 7/2.
Other results of note on Saturday were Star Catcher at 7/2 in the fillies and mares stakes, the first winning favourite of the day. King Of Change took the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at 12/1, Magical was an even money winning favourite of the Champion Stakes and Escobar scored at a fantastic 16/1 for O’Meara and Kirby in the Balmoral Handicap which was the last race of the afternoon, beating 3/1 SP favourite Lord North into second.