By News Team
Last Updated: 6th November 2019
It’s the finale of the 2019 Flat season on Saturday as we head back to Ascot for QIPCO British Champions Day. We preview two of the meeting’s races worth keeping an eye on.
Fleeting can make it three on the bounce for O’Brien in Fillies & Mares
John Gosden and Frankie Dettori seem to have won virtually all the big races during this year’s Flat racing calendar and it’s perhaps unsurprising that the duo head the market for Saturday’s Fillies & Mares Stakes at QIPCO British Champions Day.
They team up with 13/8 favourite Star Catcher, who has enjoyed a fantastic three-year-old campaign winning four times, including twice at Group 1 level at the Curragh and Longchamp. She was also a ready winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and is clearly a filly on the upgrade.
It’s hard to pick holes in the daughter of Sea The Stars, though this will be the softest ground she has ever encountered and that’s a fairly sizeable worry given her price. Instead, Fleeting looks a solid alternative against her at 7/1.
Aidan O’Brien’s filly has been well-campaigned this season, with seven starts to her name, and while she hasn’t actually won all year, there are a number of reasons to suggest she could be the one to brighten up your day.
She finished last of 15 on her seasonal reappearance in the 1000 Guineas, but being bred for middle distances, she improved dramatically for a sterner test of stamina when storming home to finish third in the Oaks at Epsom. Had she not been checked when delivering her challenge, she might have got even closer.
That performance saw her sent off a warm order for the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot where she was soundly beaten by the aforementioned Star Catcher and she was again no match for that rival in the Irish Oaks, though she did finish second in both. Two slightly below-par performances followed at Arlington Park and Longchamp, but Fleeting bounced back to her old self with a very good second in the Prix de l’Opera on Arc weekend.
Her trainer has won the last two renewals and given she’ll get conditions to her liking, she looks the value call.
O’Brien could be set for a Magical day in Champion Stakes
Cirrus Des Aigles, Frankel, Almanzor and most recently Cracksman. It’s not a bad recent role of honour, is it? While this year’s Champion Stakes might not quite have a horse of such calibre, the field has still won 10 Group Ones between them, so it’s not like we’re lacking in quality!
William Haggas’ Addeybb heads the betting at 9/4, alongside Magical, and given the poor recent weather as well as the likelihood of further showers, it’s not hard to see why he’s been so popular in the ante-post betting. When there is juice in the ground, the son of Pivotal is a different animal, as shown by his impressive wins this season at Royal Ascot and Haydock.
However, there have to be reservations about him when stepped up to Group 1 company, given he has flopped on both occasions. Connections must also have been disappointed with the news the race will now be run on Ascot’s inner track with the going much better than the waterlogged round course. Haggas and Co. will be praying the heavens open and stay open right until the off, but the better ground he will now encounter is a major concern and he looks a vulnerable favourite.
As such, his chief market rival Magical could be the one.
Aidan O’Brien’s runner has won three Group 1s, and had it not been for Enable, she would have won plenty more. She’s a proper Group 1 filly and given she’s been to the top table time and time again, and more often than not has run well (she’s only finished outside of the first two once in her last 10 starts), she’s a major contender here.
She was successful at British Champions Day last year when taking the Fillies & Mares Stakes on soft ground, proving she’s versatile ground-wise, though her form suggests a better surface is preferable. The better ground on the inner course looks a positive then, so she should be expected to go well, particularly as many of her rivals’ form is well below hers.
She ran a really good race in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last time, and providing that hasn’t left a mark, the 9/4 available looks the way to go.