Coral look at Aidan O’Brien’s Champions Day chances
Trainer has 24 Group 1 wins this season
This Saturday could see Aidan O’Brien match Bobby Frankel’s record for the number of Group 1 winners in a single season.
O’Brien needs just one more winner to draw level with the legendary trainer.
And with 11 runners across four Group 1 races Ascot on Champions Day, it appears likely that the record could be equalled – or even beaten – this weekend.
Here, the Coral News Team take you through where the Irishman’s best chances are, on what should be a fantastic Saturday of racing…
British Champions Sprint Stakes
Contenders: Caravaggio, Washington DC, Alphabet, Intelligence Cross.
The first Group 1 race of the day sees O’Brien’s Caravaggio take on Clive Cox’s Harry Angel. It’s Cox’s fancy that is the favourite, but Caravaggio cannot be ruled out at 9/2. The pair have reversed placings before and it’s O’Brien’s charge that has been more successful at Ascot in the past.
Of his other runners, Washington DC is 40/1 to spring a shock, while Alphabet and Intelligence Cross are 66/1 and 100/1 respectively.
British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes
Contenders: Hydrangea, Wild Irish Rose.
With Rhododendron and Seventh Heaven both pulled from this race, O’Brien’s hopes lay with Hydrangea. The 6/1 shot has been the bridesmaid to fellow stable star Winter on no new fewer than six occasions this season. However, recent form suggests she has a chance in this.
The daughter of Galileo landed the Group 1 Matron Stakes in September and followed that up with a narrow second in the Prix de l’Opera Longines.
Fellow O’Brien runner Wild Irish Rose is not expected to challenge and is rated as a 50/1 outsider.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Contenders: Churchill, Lancaster Bomber, Sir John Lavery.
The Coral News Team think that this is the race where O’Brien could equal Bobby Frankel’s record. Ribchester may be the market leader, but 4/1 shot Churchill is no slouch.
He has four Group 1 victories to his name, including both the Irish and the English 2,000 Guineas. And if there’s any sort of cut in the ground on Saturday afternoon, Churchill’s luck could well be in.
Lancaster Bomber and Sir John Lavery both have black-type experience but are unlikely to challenge at odds of 25/1.
Contenders: Highland Reel, Cliffs of Moher.
O’Brien rounds off the Group 1 action with two lively chances in the Champion Stakes.
The five-year-old Highland Reel is an experienced runner and must not be dismissed at 8/1. In four runs this season the Irish-bred raider has only been beaten twice, and one of those defeats came on far from ideal ground.
Since that defeat at Meydan, the middle-distance star returned to land the Coronation Cup and Prince of Wales’s Stakes to add to an already impressive trophy cabinet. It won’t be easy up against Cracksman and Barney Roy, but you’d have to be a brave man to dismiss the thoroughbred.
Fellow O’Brien runner Cliffs of Moher is yet to impress at Group 1 level and is best avoided at odds of 9/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing