THE UK flat racing’s 2017 season climaxes at Ascot on Saturday with the seventh staging of Qipco Champions Day, Britain’s richest race day, at which many of Europe’s top horses will compete for more than £4m in prize money.
Brazil-born jockey Silvestre de Sousa will be crowned champion for a second time, and trainer Aidan O’Brien – who goes into the day one short of the world record for Group One race wins in a year – will claim his sixth UK title.
Here are short summaries of what to expect:
Gr2 Long Distance Cup, 3200m
Big Orange and Order Of St George are set for a rematch after Big Orange came out on top by just a short head in a rousing Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June.
Gr1 Champions Sprint Stakes, 1200m
A terrific race with so much sprinting talent on display, and it’s good to see so much of it is British-trained. Harry Angel really does have superstar quality, and he’s expected to confirm form with Caravaggio, but could be pressed hard by Quiet Reflection, who carries a little less weight because of the fillies’ allowance.
Gr1 QEII Stakes, 1600m
Ribchester is the obvious choice, but Beat The Bank is a fascinating contender from a stable that has enjoyed an excellent season. The horse needs to progress again to win, but it would be no major surprise if he pulled it off.
Gr1 Champion Stakes, 2000m
Cracksman has obviously done exceptionally well during 2017, but what he’s achieved is not as great as two other three-year-olds in Barney Roy and Brametot. Barney Roy is going to have new, hold-up tactics employed. Brametot is a dual Classic winner at home in France, and would have played a bigger part in the Arc if it was staged over his (shorter) distance. Reports are very positive about the four-year-old Poet’s Word, whose second place in Ireland was an excellent effort.
Photo: Cracksman (britishchampionseries.com)