2016 British Champions Day ante post punts: Awtaad and Fascinating Rock feature
To celebrate British Champions Day at Ascot and the culmination of a compelling flat horse racing season, Coral experts give their ante post picks for the six-race card this Saturday.
Who features among our British Champions Day ante post tips? Read on and you’ll soon find out…
Long Distance Cup Stakes (13:25, 2m)
Order Of St George ran a cracker when third to stable companion Found in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe over 1m 4f at Chantilly, so looks a worthy favourite to land the spoils now stepped back up in trip for this Group 2 affair.
Trained in Ireland by the all-conquering Aidan O’Brien, the colt has won seven of his 14 starts. Order Of St George confirmed himself the best stayer in Europe when storming to a three lengths success in this year’s Ascot Gold Cup.
That sets a clear standard and Order Of St George is versatile as regard ground, has the services of Ryan Moore in the saddle and looks a cut above his rivals.
Sprint Stakes (14:00, 6f)
Quiet Reflection is proving a revelation this season and looks cracking value to bag a third Group 1 success.
Winning four of her five starts this campaign, the Ontoawinner owned filly is enjoying a lucrative campaign. Quiet Reflection’s sole defeat came when third to Limato in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket when unsuited by the track and fast ground.
Quiet Reflection has a high cruising speed and potent turn of foot, as demonstarted when winning the Commonwealth Cup over course and distance. She also landed the Sprint Cup at Haydock when last seen in action. The Karl Burke trained three-year-old is also improving with every run and won’t mind the forecast rain if it materialises.
Fillies & Mares Stakes (14:35, 1m 4f)
Zhukova possesses an ultra-progressive profile and can take the step up into Group 1 company in her stride to make it four wins on the spin this season.
The four-year-old put in a stunning performance on her penultimate outing when slamming the very useful Pretty Perfect by 7 1/2 lengths in a Group 3 at Naas.
She backed that up with a smooth 1/2 length success over Investec Derby runner-up US Army Ranger in a similar grade affair at Leopardstown, when idling after being three lengths clear entering the final furlong.
Zhukova is clearly thriving, handles all types of ground, and hails from the stable of top Irish handler Dermot Weld. His handler has a good record with his runners at Ascot.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (15:10, 1m)
Awtaad has some top-class form to his name and is appealing each-way in what looks a wide-open renewal.
Trained in Ireland by Kevin Prendergast, the colt lowered the colours of Galileo Gold in the Irish 2,000 Guineas before finishing third behind that re-opposing rival in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes over course and distance.
Awtaad was then not at his best when eight behind The Gurkha in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, but didn’t appear suited by the undulating track.
After being given a break, he looked as good as ever when showing a smart turn of foot to land a Group 2 at Leopardstown last month. Awtaad has reportedly thrived since and looks capable of running a huge race.
Champion Stakes (15:45, 1m 2f)
Top-class French colt Almanzor heads the market on the back of his stylish 3/4 length success over Found in the Irish Champion Stakes, but defending champion Fascinating Rock looks value to lower his colours.
The Dermot Weld trained five-year-old won going away by 1 1/2 lengths from Found in this 12 months ago. Fascinating Rock looked better than ever two starts back when slamming the same rival by 3 3/4 lengths in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh.
Although only second last time out in a Group 3 at the same venue following a break, he traditionally needs a run to straighten him out. Fascinating Rock is sure to be tuned to the minute to defend his crown.
Balmoral Handicap (16:25, 1m)
Donncha has posted some solid runs in big field handicaps, so looks worth an each-way wager in a typically fierce and wide-open renewal of the Balmoral.
The Robert Eddery trained gelding is a tough and consistent sort who has finished in the frame in three of his five starts at the track. They include a fine fourth in this race 12 months ago.
Although now 3lb higher in the weights, Donncha comes into the contest on the back of three solid efforts. These include a close-up eighth behind Librisa Breeze over 7f at this venue when last seen in action/
He will appreciate the step back up to 1m – a distance over which Donncha has notched three of his five career successes.
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