British Champions Day: what the trainers say about their chances

Horse Racing Pyledriver Royal Ascot King Edward VII Stakes
Pyledriver is “getting stronger” ahead of Champion Stakes, says trainer William Muir. Photo: Racenews

By Qipco British Champions Day media team

A total of 25 G1 winners with 50 G1 wins between them remain engaged in the six races for the 10th running of Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday after the five-day entries were revealed on Monday.

Six Classic winners remain in contention to run – Even So, Kameko, Mishriff, Search For A Song, Serpentine and Sovereign – and no fewer than 20 entries have at least one win at Royal Ascot to their name.

Prize-money for this year’s Qipco British Champions Day will stand at £2.54 million, retaining its position as the richest raceday in Britain, despite the impact of coronavirus.

Shall we talk about it?

1.20pm: Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup G2

Morando: “Loves it when the mud is flying. It would be a new venture going two miles with him, but the way he’s shaped in his races in the last two seasons suggests that two miles is well within his compass now and he goes well at Ascot.” Andrew Balding (trainer)

Spanish Mission: “Very impressive in the Doncaster Cup last time but I would have thought he would be effective from a mile and a half to an extended two miles. He’s a horse who historically has not wanted the ground too soft, so that’s a concern for him. If the ground got pretty testing, we’d have to think twice about running him.” Andrew Balding (trainer)

1.55pm: Qipco British Champions Sprint G1

Oxted: “He looks amazing and is still keeping his coat, which is great. He’s training really well and seems to have that mojo back and we’re really happy with him. He’s had a massive impact on the yard, putting us right in the shop window. Winning a Group 1 was amazing and hopefully we’ve got a few more to come.
“We’ve always been happy to compete with the best, that’s what we’re here for. We’ve always danced the dance with the big boys, and we’ve come out on top a few times and that’s where we want to be.” Roger Teal (trainer)

2.30pm: Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes G1

Antonia de Vega: “She has come out of her Newmarket race in good shape and the more juice in the ground on Saturday the better. That was her first run back off a break when she ran in the race last year, as she’d had a problem after she won the Johnny Lewis Memorial Stakes at Newbury. She’s a filly who normally comes forward for a run and there had been three months between Pontefract and Newmarket this year, so I’m hoping she will come on.” Ralph Beckett (trainer)

Alpinista: “She’s fine and ran very well the other day [at Newmarket] when things possibly didn’t go right for her. Her family have done me wonderfully well and she’ll be there if the ground is OK, but she won’t run if it’s very soft. If you are as good as she is on very firm, then the likelihood is that you are not going to be as good as that on very soft.” Sir Mark Prescott (trainer)

Dame Malliot: “It [Prix Vermeille] has worked out well, hasn’t it? You know we were unlucky to be caught on the line for second by Raabihah, and look how well she ran in the Arc. Wouldn’t it be a fairytale end for me if Dame Malliot went and won at Ascot? But you know it will be a tough race for her. She’s not had a hard season though, with only three runs so far, and after trips to Germany and France since her Newmarket win it’s nice that she won’t have to travel this time.” Ed Vaughan (trainer)

3.05pm: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by Qipco) G1

Kameko: “We were delighted with his win in the Joel Stakes and that has set him up perfectly in terms of preparation, three weeks before Qipco British Champions Day. I think he showed his class in the Joel Stakes, beating some very talented older horses – and beating them well.
“After a bit of trial and error, it’s obvious that a mile is his trip. He has that high cruising speed and excellent turn of foot. We go to Qipco British Champions Day full of hope and optimism as a Guineas winner who still seems to be in great form, even at the end of a long season.” Andrew Balding (trainer)

UPDATE: Kameko will miss the QEII owing to the ground and is set to run in the Breeders’ Cup

Lord Glitters: “We were happy with his run at Ayr, when he probably took too long getting out but flew home. It’s a very hot QEII with the likes of Palace Pier and Kameko in there but Ascot suits him and hopefully he can end up in the prize-money.” David O’Meara (trainer)

3.40pm: Qipco Champion Stakes G1

Pyledriver: “He’s getting stronger and is starting to retain his weight easier. His work has been good, the same as ever, and I’m very confident I’ve still got him at his best.
“I think if it hadn’t been for this type of year, we would probably not run him over a mile and a six in the St Leger. You can’t be dogmatic and say he didn’t stay because he ground it out, but that was his class. He wasn’t as effective because we took his gears and speed away from him. Martin [Dwyer] was sitting, waiting and having to hold him on to him when he wanted to kick. I’m not worried about the ground and the trip won’t be a problem. Straight after he won the Voltigeur, the jockey went on TV and said he had the pace to win a Group 1 over a mile and a quarter.
“We’ve got loads to look forward to with this horse and, no matter what else, the boys [the trio who own the horse] have had a fantastic time. We’ve enjoyed every minute of it and we’ve got next year and the year after with him, when we will be looking at the big races all around the world.”

William Muir (trainer)

4.15pm: Balmoral Hcap (sponsored by Qipco)

Escobar: “We thought he was [fast] ground dependent but he won it well on heavy last year, so he’s versatile in that respect. He won it off 105 and is now on 108; that might make him more vulnerable but this seems to be his time of the year.” David O’Meara (trainer)

Raeeq: “The plan is to go there but we will see how he is over this week and make a final decision on Thursday morning. He’s an exciting horse with a big future and I don’t want to rush him for the sake of it. He’s gone up to 108 and, if he runs, will be off 103, which hopefully gives him a head start, but in big handicaps such as this you’ve got to be cautious.
“His rating means he’s in stakes category now and I’ve no doubt whatsoever he is up to it. Ground-wise, he handled it the other day [softish going] and I don’t think the forecast this week is that aggressive, so that should be fine.” Brian Meehan (trainer)

• For more information, visit the British Champions Day website

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