Tag Archives: Champion Stakes

Betting Preview: Champion Stakes

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3.30 Ascot: British Champion Stakes, 1m 2f

On paper this is likely a match between odds-on favourite Cracksman and top rated Crystal Ocean. It’s also the duel of the super sires Frankel vs. Sea The Stars.

Cracksman is the one who’s likely to enjoy the soft going the little more. First time blinkers after a surprising defeat at Ascot when last seen is an interesting move by John Gosden. Personally I judge this as a big minus. One couldn’t help but feel, despite his early season wins, that Cracksman isn’t as good – or shall we rather say focused – as he was last season. The Coronation Cup scare already was a revealing hint, I feel.

On prices I probably would favour Crystal Ocean. He’s 4lb higher rated at the moment. Something to take with a pinch of salt, nonetheless it tells a story of a horse who’s at the top of his game.

In saying that, Crystal Ocean continues to chase the elusive Group 1 victory. While his runner-up performance behind wonder mare Enable at Kempton showed he remains as good as ever, with ground potentially too soft to be ideal and a trip potentially too short to be ideal, I find myself picking plenty of holes not only in to the odds-on favourite, but also the second fancy in the betting.

Capri? An interrupted season, has to be taken seriously still, after a damn good effort in the Arc. He could try to steel the race from the front, utilizing his superior stamina. He’s a fair price, for sure.

However, I’m drawn to a massive long-shot here. Jim Bolger’s Verbal Dexterity, last year’s National Stakes winner. Things didn’t go plan for him afterwards, clearly. And his latest showing in the Irish Champion Stakes is worrisome, despite a more than fair seasonal reappearance weeks earlier.

On the other hand the ground looks ideal for him, unlike at Leopardstown. Whether he can stretch out to 10f on soft going is an entirely different matter. Either way, I feel this lad has a big race in him. Jim Bolger continues to show faith, otherwise he wouldn’t bring him over.

As the only three-year-old in the race at the bottom of the weights, despite a massive price I can see him outrunning this price tag for at least a place.

Selection:
10pts Each/Way – Verbal Dexterity @ 28/1 PP

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Selections for British Champions Day

Territories

1.55 Ascot: British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1)

I’m a big fan of lightly raced Sea Calisi who seems to have the right traits to land this Group 1. She has been progressive all year, making the transition from Group 3 to the highest level seamingless. A Group 2 winner in her native France in June, followed an impressive performance in the Yorkshire Oaks where she was unlucky not finish closer than her third place, one and a half lengths beaten by Pleascach.

Sea Calisi was a long-shot in the Arc Trial Prix Vermeille last month, but ran a big race when third behind Treve – who that day, was from another planet.

There is every reason to believe that this likeable three year old filly can still improve – I certainly believe a big victory is due! Her high cruising speed will allow her to make the progress from the back of the field from 4f out where it’s usually the crucial point for those held up.

Sea Calisi @ 13/2 Betfred – 5pts Win

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2.30 Ascot; Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1)

Still unclear what the situation is with Gleneagles. The ground is against him, so much is sure. Sollow in contrast is certain to run and will appreciate the underfoot conditions. On form he’s very hard to beat here. But Territories is an interesting alternative. The three year old with the weight advantage, has very strong form and should love the trip on slightly easy ground.

3.05 Ascot: Champion Stakes (Group 1)

Difficult race. I believe Jack Hobbs is not as much a clear favourite as the odds say, for the reason of his poor draw and the ground not really what he wants.

However from the older horses Fascinating Rock is a fascinating contender. He’ll love the ground and the trip, has been in excellent form this season and proved his class at this level – he should be right there when it matters.

Both Territories and Fascinating Rock have good chances to go close and be placed at least. They offer some “each-way-value” combined as a double.

Territories+Fascinating Rock @ 164/1 Paddy Power – 2.5pts E/W

Kochka’s a banker!

The 2013 Champion 2 year old Kochka is on his way to find back to his old best after a long injury lay-off. His comeback run over 1.200m earlier this month was excellent given his break of 18 month. He finished a fine runner-up and badly needed the outing, according to his trainer. Kochka won back summer 2013 the big Grade 1 Champion Stakes and surly has bigger targets on his mind this season than an ordinary Graduation Plate, also he’ll soon step up in trip to a mile again I suspect.

But on his second run, he should have way to much for this lot even over this sprint trip, given the improvement one would expect. from run to run. Even if he may not quit yet be as good as his 105 rating, he is meeting some mid-70 rated individuals here, with one exception, of 88 rated Nineteen Fourteen. He’s  a decent handicapper & consistent but only one win in 16 starts which came in maiden company, means he shouldn’t have enough on the plate to be a real threat to Kochka.

Kochka is rightly the odds-on favourite, however he is not short enough with Sportingbet, and is a 1/2 chance on my tissue, therefore I think this price is actually quite generous.

Greyville 12.30: Graduation Plate, 1.200m
Kochka @ 4/5 Sportingbet – 10pts win