Hollie Doyle may have triumphed in that opening race but is likely to get a ban as she gave eventual second Coltrane quite a nudge as they passed the post on the first circuit. The stewards seem sure to be taking a close look at that incident.
1 Trueshan 11-8 fav
2 Coltrane 10-1
3 Trawlerman 20-1
And they’re off … Quickthorn leads in the early stages with Trawlerman up there and Trueshan being restrained just behind the leaders … Waterville is in last place but it’s early days … Wordsworth is in third spot at Swinley Bottom and Trueshan fourth … Eldar Eldarov is towards the rear … Trawlerman makes a challenge as does Trueshan … Trueshan and Coltrane fight it out with Coltrane taking the lead but is foiled by Trueshan on the line.
A fascinating subplot to today’s action is the destination of the Flat season trainers’ title with William Haggas and Charlie Appleby slugging it out for the crown as Greg Wood outlined in his preamble. A release from BritishGambler.co.uk informs me that “Appleby leads the way with £5,375,274.88 in prize money to Haggas’ £5,294,645.80”. That’s tight and we’ll keep you posted on the battle throughout the meeting.
The late Queen’s absence will be most keenly felt at Royal Ascot next year but she was also a regular on Champions Day and always had been for the equivalent meeting which has hosted the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. It has been reported that the the late monarch’s extensive horse racing operation is set to be left to Queen Consort Camilla and she has arrived at Ascot today.
Trueshan’s old adversary, Stradivarius, is no longer a consideration as Alan King’s gelding attempts to win this Group Two contest for the third year running, but this could still prove to be his toughest Champions Day assignment to date, with a St Leger winner – EldarEldarov – and a could-be-anything dark horse from the Aidan O’Brien yard, Waterville, among his seven opponents. Both are attracting support this morning, while Trueshan is a little uneasy in the betting and out to 2-1, from around 7-4 overnight.
Trueshan has the softish ground that suits him so well, but was also well below form last time out, when Coltrane, another of today’s rivals, got the better of him by a neck in the Doncaster Cup. King suggested afterwards that Trueshan was still feeling the effects of his first race on ground faster than good, in the Goodwood Cup in July, but it will still be a nagging concern for anyone backing Hollie Doyle to bring up the hat-trick. If he is again below his very best form, Eldar Eldarov will not need to find much to beat him on his Leger form, and since Roger Varian’s colt could well improve again for step up to two miles, he looks like the one to back at the prices.
Selection: Eldar Eldarov
Radio 4 listeners this morning who were getting over actress Miriam Margolyes saying “Fuck you, bastard” about the new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, on the Today programme may not have noticed broadcaster Clare Balding with some words about one of her brother Andrew’s horses running at Ascot today.
“My brother has a runner in the 1.25pm race at Ascot and how appropriate this would be given the news about Robbie Coltrane. It’s number one Coltrane,” said Balding. The news of the actor’s death came yesterday and the betting news via Horse.bet in my inbox informs me that Coltrane is the second-best backed runner after Trueshan in the opener.
Frankie Dettori, by many lengths the racing personality best known to the general public, has said 2023 could be his last season in the saddle.
“I’m definitely riding on next year, I know that, 100%,” Dettori told the Sun newspaper, for which he appears in a regular Saturday column. “There are still some things to look forward to but next season might be my last. At the moment I’m still loving it, I’m riding whenever I can. But we’ll have to see how I’m feeling this time next year.
“Hopefully someone can find me a winner in the July Cup! That’s the only big race I need. “My shoulder is horrible, it looks black and it’s bruised. I got a right kicking [at Newmarket last week] but I can’t feel any pain.”
This year has certainly had its ups and downs for Dettori. It started with Dubai World Cup success on Country Grammer but he had a highly-publicised fallout at Royal Ascot with his main employer John Gosden. Following a brief “sabbatical”, they were reunited and went on to win the Prix Jacques le Marois with Inspiral and the Ebor with Trawlerman. Last weekend was also eventful for the 51-year-old, with a heavy fall at Newmarket quickly forgotten after winning the Dewhurst on Chaldean.
Dettori, who has always been synonymous with Ascot following his seven-timer at the track in 1996, has a high-profile ride today on Inspiral for Gosden in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Good morning from Ascot racecourse for the 12th Champions Day card, the most valuable afternoon in British racing and a meeting that will also – barring a U-turn of almost Truss-like proportions – see the outstanding colt Baaeed make his final appearance on the track, in the Champion Stakes at 4pm (all times BST).
This celebration of what is essentially a summer sport has suffered several times in recent years as a result of distinctly un-summery weather, and was even forced to move to the hurdles track three years ago to ensure the card’s survival. Just two of the 11 Champions Day cards to date have been run on the good-to-firm going that most tracks aim to provide on the Flat, while the other nine have all been staged on soft or good-to-soft ground.
The run-up to Baaeed’s swansong, though, has been blessed with better weather than is often the case in mid-October, but the track is still riding good-to-soft, and soft in places, and as Ascot’s highly informative going map shows, the “places” include a little more than half of the 10-furlong trip in the feature event.
Two of the unbeaten Baaeed’s 10 career wins have come on good-to-soft ground, including a narrow but convincing defeat of Palace Pier in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on this card last year, but today’s going is likely to be softer than anything he has experienced to date. In Adayar, last year’s Derby and King George winner, he is also up against the most accomplished rival he has faced to date.
It’s hard to get a line on precisely where Adayar is now, however, as his four-year-old season has been restricted to a single start at Doncaster last month, and the mood music in the betting market is not encouraging as he has eased from 5-1 to 6-1 overnight.
Baaeed, on the other hand, is now a 2-9 chance, while William Haggas, his trainer, starts the day as 8-11 favourite to win the trainers’ championship for the first time in his career. As Haggas conceded earlier this week, if Baaeed does not win the Champion Stakes, he will be “33-1, or 133-1” to land the title, regardless of whether Adayar – trained by his only serious rival, Charlie Appleby – takes the spoils.
Appleby, who is even-money for the title, could extend his current £77,000 lead significantly in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the race before the Champion Stakes, where his three-year-old colt Modern Games is 4-1 second-favourite behind Inspiral, last year’s best juvenile filly.
Appleby also has runners with chances in the Group One Sprint, including the current joint-favourite, Creative Force, and another big hope in the Fillies & Mares race where Eternal Pearl is nudging up against Emily Upjohn, the Oaks runner-up, at the head of the betting.
Elsewhere on a top-class card, meanwhile, Hollie Doyle will be looking for a third successive win on Trueshan in the Long Distance Cup when the action gets under way at 1.25pm. Picks for the six-race card, all of which is televised on ITV1, are here, and you can follow all the action as the day unfolds here on the blog.