Racing pundit Tony McCormick from www.irishbigracetrends.com and new racing radio station racingfm.com looks forward to British Champions Day.
The inaugural QIPCO British Champions Series was staged in 2011, it incorporates the 35 top flat races in the British horse-racing calendar, showcasing the best flat racing on the planet.
The 2014 series has taken place over 27 racedays, launching on Saturday 3 May with the QIPCO 2000 Guineas on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course and climaxing on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday.
The series comprises five championship categories, namely Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Fillies and Mares.
Each meeting features the seven highest-rated races in that category, including no less than 12 of the world’s top 20 races, and brings together the finest horses, jockeys and trainers to compete for the sport’s most prestigious prizes.
The series is staged at the country’s ten leading racecourses - Ascot, Doncaster, Epsom Downs, Goodwood, Haydock Park, Newbury, Newmarket’s July Course, Newmarket’s Rowley Mile, Sandown Park and York.
It encompasses all British flat racing’s key festivals, including the QIPCO Guineas Festival, the Investec Derby Festival, Royal Ascot, the Piper Heidsieck July Festival, Betfair Weekend, Glorious Goodwood, the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival and the Ladbrokes St Leger Meeting.
QIPCO British Champions Day, the climax to the series, is Britain’s richest raceday with £3.75million in prize money.
The Grey Gatsby is still among 12 QIPCO Champion Stakes entries at Ascot on Saturday following the confirmation stage on Monday.
Kevin Ryan’s grey is not an intended runner, but remains in the entries.
Corine Barande-Barbe’s French ace Cirrus Des Aigles won the race in 2011 and will be strongly fancied to regain his crown after having filled the runner-up spot behind Frankel and Farhh in the last two renewals.
Aidan O’Brien has three remaining contenders in Kingsbarns, Ruler Of The World and Kingfisher, while fellow Irish trainer Dermot Weld is set to saddle a major player in Free Eagle.
Frankel’s brother Noble Mission has enjoyed an excellent campaign and is in the mix for Lady Cecil.
Al Kazeem, Sheikhzayedroad, Ayrad and Western Hymn are also engaged.
The Richard Hannon-trained Pether’s Moon has been supplemented for the race and was one of seven supplementary entries to Qipco British Champions Day on Monday.
Captain Cat and Custom Cut were added to the QEII, Silk Sari and Albasharah in the Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes, G Force in the Qipco British Champions Sprint and Big Orange in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
Ascot has made no contingency plans for flat racing’s end-of-season showpiece with the course confident the worst of the weather has passed.
A total of 25mm of rain was dumped on the track on Sunday night turning the going heavy, soft in places (from soft, good to soft in places) and a further 3mm fell on the sodden turf during Monday.
However, while showers remain in the forecast before Saturday, Ascot expects the meeting, featuring the Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes and Group 1 Qipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes among others, to go ahead as planned.
Taghrooda and Mukhadram, who between them captured the Oaks, King George and Coral-Eclipse in a glorious summer for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, have been retired to stud.
Trained by John Gosden, Taghrooda finished her racing with a third behind Treve in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, while the decision to call time on Mukhadram’s career was also taken on this week when it became apparent the ground would be too soft for him to contest his end of season target, the Qipco Champion Stakes on Saturday.
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