CHAMPIONS DAY is going to be particularly special this year as my son Little Cieren is going to pick up his trophy for being champion apprentice this season.
It’s been a brilliant year for him and we’re all very proud of what he’s done in such a short space of time. Hopefully he has all the right attributes, and the right attitude, to go on and make a real success of his career.
In terms of the racing, it’s sure to be an exciting day, albeit one where the ground is going to play a really big role in everything. Hopefully we can find a winner or two through the day.
Champions Sprint (1.35 Ascot) – One Master
This horse has to be the one to side with in this race. She’s got plenty of speed but I think more importantly you’ll need to stay. In fact, I think you’ll potentially need to stay a mile in this race. It’s 6f on a stiff track on deep ground and it’s going to be a proper test for these horses. She was impressive last time too and comes into the race in top form.
Long Distance Cup (2.10 Ascot) – Stradivarius
There’s no looking past Stradivarius in this race. I’ve looked through the race again and again and dissected it any and every possible way and he still comes out on top. I just cannot see him getting beaten – he’s too good.
Fillies & Mares Stakes (2.45 Ascot) – Pink Dogwood
At the start of the season everyone at Ballydoyle thought Pink Dogwood was a superstar. She’s not quite lived up to that but she’s not always had things go right for her in her races either, which hasn’t helped. I think having Pierre-Charles Boudot riding her is a huge help as French jockeys are used to riding on deep ground and tactically he’s going to be a big advantage.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (3.20 Ascot) – Phoenix Of Spain
It was great to see Benbatl win for us last time and I have to say I was impressed with him as well. However, that was totally different ground at Newmarket and that makes this tough for him. The one I like here is Phoenix Of Spain. I’m really keen on his chances and I think he’ll like the ground too.
Champions Stakes (4.00 Ascot) – Addeybb
He’s a lovely horse and he’s at his best when there is cut in the ground, so conditions should be perfect for him on Saturday. He’s gone well around Chester, so a sharp track is no concern to him whatsoever and he’s battle-hardened too. I think he’ll be really hard to beat. If Deirdre handles the ground, she’ll run well too. I just don’t know how she’ll handle conditions.
Balmoral Handicap (4.40 Ascot) – Kick On
On first look at this race I thought Lord North was a certainty. However, he’s gone up a lot in the weights and he’s now on completely different ground. As a result, I’d rather side with Kick On who I know will handle the ground and also has a lot of class.