British Champions Day
G1 winners Barney Roy, Ribchester, Thunder Snow and Harry Angel feature among a formidable team of Godolphin runners for Britain’s richest raceday, British Champions Day, at Ascot, UK, on Saturday, October 21.
Barney Roy (Richard Hannon/James Doyle) goes after a second G1 success at Ascot this year in the 10-furlong Champion Stakes after running on strongly for a length victory over a mile in the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting in June.
The three-year-old colt went down by a nose to Ulysses in a thrilling finish to the G1 Eclipse Stakes over 10 furlongs at Sandown Park in July and came home two and a quarter lengths behind the same horse when third in the G1 International Stakes over half a furlong further at York on August 23.
Maverick Wave (John Gosden/Robert Havlin) makes a third consecutive appearance in the Champion Stakes, having made the running in both 2015 and 2016.
Richard Hannon reported: “Barney Roy comes into this race fresh and well, having had a nice break since he ran at York.
“We took him for a spin around Kempton Park last week, which he has done before all his previous runs this season, and James Doyle was very pleased with him.
“I just hope that we don’t get too much rain, but we are very pleased with Barney Roy’s physical wellbeing and he looks in great nick. We are looking forward to the race.”
Barney Roy and Maverick Wave oppose eight rivals including dual G2 winner Cracksman, this season’s Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club scorer Brametot and Highland Reel, who has gained six G1 victories in his career.
Ribchester (Richard Fahey/William Buick) was also victorious at Royal Ascot this year, breaking the course record when the comprehensive winner of the G1 Queen Anne Stakes, and the four-year-old Iffraaj colt attempts a fifth G1 win over a mile in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, in which he finished the close runner-up 12 months ago.
He has cemented his position as Europe’s top miler in 2017 with G1 successes in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May and the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp at Chantilly, France, on September 10.
Ribchester’s only defeat this season came in the G1 Sussex Stakes, also over a mile, at Goodwood in August, when he rallied gamely to go down by a neck to Here Comes When in testing conditions.
Toscanini (Richard Fahey/James Doyle), a G3 runner-up at York in August, also runs in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, having lined up alongside Ribchester in the Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes and the Sussex Stakes earlier this season
Richard Fahey said: “Ribchester is a very tough horse, with a great mind, and is very easy to train. He is a very willing horse, who has never let us down.
“He broke the track record over a mile at Ascot earlier in the season, albeit on quicker ground, and I blame the conditions on the day – the wind and the rain rather than the heavy going – for his defeat at Goodwood.
“He came out and won a G1 race in France afterwards and we have been very happy with his preparation.
“You can never be confident in a race like this, but the others have to come and beat us. If Ribchester turns up on his ‘A’ game, he is going to take a lot of beating.”
They are joined in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes by a third Godolphin runner, three-year-old colt Thunder Snow (Saeed bin Suroor/Christophe Soumillon), who was successful over the same distance in the G1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly in July and won the seven-furlong G1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, France last year.
The son of Helmet, victorious on dirt in the G2 UAE Derby at Meydan, UAE, in March, finished runner-up in the G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh, Ireland, in May, and was a close third on his most recent start in the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, France, on August 13.
Saeed bin Suroor commented: “We gave Thunder Snow a break after he ran at Deauville and he looks in good condition at the moment.
“He has been working well and any rain will help. This is a very tough contest, but we are looking for a good result.”
The field of 15 for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes also features English and Irish 2,000 Guineas victor Churchill, Prix Jacques le Marois scorer Al Wukair and Here Comes When, who beat Ribchester in the Sussex Stakes.
The world’s top-rated sprinter Harry Angel (Clive Cox/Adam Kirby) is after a third consecutive G1 victory in the British Champions Sprint over six furlongs, following scintillating wins over the same trip in two of Europe’s top sprints.
The three-year-old Dark Angel colt ran on powerfully to capture the Darley July Cup at Newmarket in July and made all for a decisive four-length verdict on heavy ground in the Sprint Cup at Haydock Park on September 9.
Clive Cox commented: “Harry Angel has had a really nice time since he won at Haydock and heads to Ascot in good form.
“I think he has progressed mentally and physically all season. What he did last time out at Haydock was pretty special, particularly as we were unsure about how he would cope with the heavy ground there.
“He goes on any going and I couldn’t be happier with him at home. It’s a very strong race and we have a lot of opponents to respect, but Harry Angel is in great nick.”
Drawn nine, his 12 rivals are headed by Caravaggio, who beat Harry Angel into second in the G1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June, and Quiet Reflection, successful in both the Commonwealth Cup and Sprint Cup last year.
Godolphin is represented in the 23-runner Balmoral Handicap over a mile by Linguistic (John Gosden/William Buick), who has come home second at Listed level on three occasions and drops down in trip after finishing third in a York handicap over an extended 10 furlongs on October 14.