Magical, Palace Pier and Stradivarius stand their ground at Ascot showpiece on Saturday
No less than 22 Group 1 winners will be in action with five Classic winners – Serpentine (Investec Derby), Mishriff (French Derby), Even So (Irish Oaks) Search For A Song (Irish St Leger) and Sovereign (last year’s Irish Derby winner) – set to feature on Saturday’s card.
The glittering equine cast on show have won 44 races at the highest level of the sport and 19 of those engaged have at least one win at Royal Ascot to their name. In total, 87 runners have been declared for the six races, which is a joint-record for QIPCO British Champions Day.
The thrills are going to come thick and fast at Britain’s most valuable raceday, with outstanding five-year-old mare Magical, trained by Aidan O’Brien, having the opportunity to go one better than Frankel and Cracksman by becoming the first horse to win at the meeting three times. On what seems likely to be her final race in Europe, she will defend her crown in a scintillating £750,000 QIPCO Champion Stakes.
The action will get under way with the world’s top-rated stayer, Stradivarius, trained by John Gosden, strutting his stuff in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup and later on the card his stablemate, Palace Pier, the highest-rated miler in the World, will seek to preserve his unbeaten record in the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Champion trainer Gosden will be out to add to his haul of eight winners on QIPCO British Champions Day – the same tally as O’Brien, the multiple Irish champion trainer, who will be represented in all six races.
By contrast, two doyens of the training ranks, Sir Michael Stoute and Henry Candy, will be seeking to secure their first QIPCO British Champions Day triumphs, while David Menuisier, who has himself has enjoyed big wins around the world, is hoping the well-fancied Wonderful Tonight will end his elusive quest for an Ascot winner of any description by scooping the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
Menuisier said: “Ascot is my nemesis! In six years, I still haven’t managed to win a race there and it plays on my mind a little bit. It would be absolutely fantastic to lose our maiden tag there with a winner on QIPCO British Champions Day – I hope the Gods are listening. We’ve had a lot of major successes abroad and it would be great to touch-one down in our own country. A winner at Ascot on Champions Day would mean the world to us.”
Prize money for this year’s QIPCO British Champions Day will stand at £2.54 million, retaining its position as the richest raceday in Great Britain, despite the impact of coronavirus.