Stars Line Up for QIPCO British Champions Day


Magical (left) |

Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) might be retired to the Juddmonte paddocks, but there will still be plenty of equine stars spread across five group races on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday, as fields were drawn on Thursday morning.

2019 G1 QIPCO Champion S. winner Magical (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is aiming for her second consecutive Champion S. score, and the Coolmore runner has been in prime form of late, with three Group 1 wins this season, her only loss a second to formidable frontrunner Ghaiyyath (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the G1 Juddmonte International S. in August. The 5-year-old mare leads the Ballydoyle trio of MG1SW Japan (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) and G1 Derby scorer Serpentine (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). She defeated Ghaiyyath in the G1 Irish Champion S. at Leopardstown on Sept. 12. Last year's G1 Champion S. runner-up Addeybb (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) earned a brace of Group 1 wins in Australia this spring, and he ran second to the re-opposing Lord North (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the G1 Prince of Wales's S. at Royal Ascot in June. The durable chestnut was first past the post at the listed level at Ayr on Sept. 19 for William Haggas. Besides Lord North, John Gosden sends out G1 Prix du Jockey Club winner Mishriff (Ire) (Make Believe {GB}), who landed the G2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano at Deauville on Aug. 15.

The G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. lost some of its lustre with the absence of 2020 G1 QIPCO 2000 Guineas hero Kameko (Kitten's Joy) and MG1SW Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), but that has put the focus even more firmly on fledgling miler wunderkind Palace Pier (GB) (Kingman {GB}). Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum's undefeated colt stunned in the G1 St James's Palace S. in June and backed up those claims in heavy ground in the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August. This year's G1 Queen Anne S. hero Circus Maximus (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), one of three from Ballydoyle, ran second in the G1 Sussex S. in July before taking third to Palace Pier in the Prix Jacques le Marois. The Flaxman Stables/Coolmore partners colourbearer was most recently third in the G1 Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp on Sept. 6. Shadwell's Oct. 3 G1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot S. heroine Nazeef (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and Oct. 3 G2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein victor The Revenant (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) could also both provide stiff challenges on Saturday.

If Hollie Doyle triumphs aboard 4-year-old filly Dame Malliot (GB) (Champs Elysees {GB}) in the G1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares S., it would be one of the stories of the weekend, as it would  be Doyle's first win out of the top drawer. Ed Vaughan's dual Group 2 winner ran third in both the G1 Preis von Europa in August and the Sept. 13 G1 Qatar Prix Vermeille and is a solid chance. She faces ace sophomores Wonderful Tonight (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}), who won the G1 Qatar Prix de Royallieu for David Menuisier on Oct. 3, and Ger Lyons's G1 Juddmonte Irish Oaks heroine Even So (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) among others.

Despite the absence of Shadwell's grey speedball Battaash (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), quality is rampant throughout the 17-strong G1 QIPCO British Champions Sprint S. field. Lael Stable's One Master (GB) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) will try to go one better than in 2019 and enters off her third straight G1 Qatar Prix de la Foret victory. However, the 6-year-old mare is not the only entrant coming in off a Group 1 victory, as Roger Teal trainee Oxted (GB) (Mayson {GB}) resurfaces after a score in the G1 July Cup S. on July 11 and a wind operation. Dream of Dreams (Ire) (Dream Ahead), the top-rated horse in the field, bettered Glen Shiel (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) by 1 1/4 lengths in Haydock's G1 Betfair Sprint Cup S. on Sept. 5. Andrew Balding saddles the progressive Happy Power (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) looking for the colt's fourth-straight win, building on the back of scores in the Aug. 30 G3 Supreme S. and Newmarket's G2 Challenge S. on Oct. 9.

A baker's dozen step up for the opening race, with 2018 winner Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) out to regain his crown in the G2 QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup. The game Bjorn Nielsen runner was second last term to Kew Gardens (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Twice a winner at the highest level in 2020, he was last in action when seventh in the G1 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The chestnut faces two-time G1 Irish St Leger heroine Search For a Song (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) for Moyglare Stud, 2019 G1 Irish Derby winner Sovereign (Ire) (Galileo {Ire})-one of three for Aidan O'Brien, 2020 Irish St. Leger bridesmaid Fujaira Prince (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}), and G2 Doncaster Cup S. hero Spanish Mission (Noble Mission {GB}) for Team Valor and Gary Barber.

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