where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2019-10-17 20:11:52  
Top class competition on British Champions Day at Ascot

It's British Champions Day on Saturday (19 October) with four tremendously competitive Group 1 races on the six-race simulcast menu from Ascot for this late season European extravaganza.

Soft ground enthusiasts will be the popular choices but, because of the amount of rain, the three races due to be run on Ascot's round course - including the G1 Champion Stakes - will now take place on the fresh ground of Ascot's inner track.

On Ascot's straight course, the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1600m) looks a particularly fascinating affair with French-trained winning machine The Revenant - the mount of Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe-winning rider Pierre-Charles Boudot - expected to start favourite as he searches for his seventh straight victory.

However, his opponents will have happily observed that he is a four-year-old required to give weight to the three-year-old generation who have won 20 of the last 31 runnings of the QE II.

Two serious three-year-old contenders are Magna Grecia and King Of Change - first and second in the 19-runner 2,000 Guineas - the 1600m Classic at Newmarket back in May.

Magna Grecia subsequently suffered a hamstring injury and trainer Aidan O’Brien said: “We had to give him a lot of time off but he has progressed really well.”

It is 147 days since the powerful son of Invincible Spirit raced but considering that terrific Classic victory came 189 days after his previous start, perhaps the break may even prove a blessing in disguise.

King Of Change is also a fresh colt, his only competition since the Guineas having come when he landed a Listed event at Sandown Park last month. He is yet to race on a surface slower than good but trainer Richard Hannon sounds the opposite of worried: “I actually think that he will like the soft ground at Ascot and he's in great shape. He's grown a lot and is really coming good now.”

O'Brien's Magical will be popular in the Champion Stakes (2000m), her anticipated Saturday target. She won the G1 British Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes on this day last year and has bagged two more G1 prizes since, both at about a mile and a quarter.

However those who saw her latest winning strike in last month's Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown may also pay serious attention to fourth placed Deirdre – the Japanese raider was devouring the ground late after suffering a horrendous passage.

A G1 winner at home and only a length second to Glorious Forever in the 2018 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup, this season’s G1 Nassau Stakes heroine is described by Saturday's rider Oisin Murphy - all set to become UK Champion Jockey this season - in terms that must offer some confidence that she will get through Saturday's ground.

“Physically she is an absolute queen. She is a big masculine type and brilliant in her work,” he said.

It will come as no surprise to learn that Frankie Dettori - the most successful rider in this meeting's history - has some major chances on British racing’s big day. They include this season’s dual G1 winner Advertise in the G1 British Champions Sprint Stakes (1200m), the brilliant stayer Stradivarius - winner of his last 10 starts - in the British Champions Long Distance Cup (3115m) and the G1 Irish Oaks and G1 Prix Vermeille winner Star Catcher in the British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes over 2321m.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club

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