Followers of The Oddsguru blog should have been on good terms with themselves following last week’s Cesarewitch Handicap. Our selection, Withhold came home in front with our E.W. suggestion, London Prize a gallant second, keeping on well at the rewarding odds of 16/1. The winner was backed in from around 10/1 on the day to 5/1 favourite but I hope some readers availed of the much fancier odds available when first advised. The winner won with plenty in hand and is one to keep in mind for next years Cup Races, while the runner up on this performance must still be a well handicapped horse over hurdles, and is one to keep on the right side of in that discipline.
With the market going 3/1 the field at the time of writing, Saturday’s Champion Stakes has quite an open look about it, and there must be at least half a dozen contenders with realistic chances. Sir Michael Stoute with two wins is the most successful handler at the weekend, although we have to rewind seventeen years to the last time he was in the winners enclosure, when his 4yo Kalinisi, came home in front. He is represented at the time of writing by the brilliant Ulysses, winner of this year’s Eclipse Stakes, (Oddsguru’s Selection) and Judmonte International, and an excellent third in The Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe a fortnight ago. He does seem to have an excellent chance on paper, particularly if the rain stays away but with his main objective being The Breeders Cup in just two weeks time it wouldn’t surprise if he didn’t run and Sir Michael relied on his second string, Poets Word.
This 4yo son of Poets Voice, with only eight runs under his belt, has made giant strides this term, and could prove to be a more than able substitute. He started the season winning a Class2 Chelmsford Handicap off a mark of 104, and followed up with a good second in a Chester Group3(10 1/2f Good). He won a Goodwood Group3 (12f Soft) next time, forging clear in the last furlong, and put up a career best last time, when running Decorated Knight To 1/2L in The Irish Champion Stakes. Out of the tough Nashwan mare, Whirly Bird, who won five of her seven starts, Poets Word is on a strong upward trajectory and is well worth considering, particularly if the going is soft.
Since the race was transferred to Ascot The Classic generation have only had a single success, Almanzor last year, but overall the three year olds have a respectable record with eighteen wins since 1980, and the market at the time of writing is headed by one of that age group, John Gosden’s 3yo colt, Cracksman. As a son of the great Frankel out of the Pivotal mare Rhadegunda who was best at distances around a mile, Cracksman is bred to be a miler but has looked to need every yard of 12f when winning his last two races. He might just find himself tapped for a bit of toe up Ascots short straight.
The Richard Hannon (pictured above) trained, Barney Roy kicked off his season winning the 2000gns Trial, The Greenham Stakes, at Newbury in April and could have been an unlucky loser of the Guineas itself as he stumbled going into the dip and lost his action. He recovered, and fought back to go down to Churchill by a length. He went on to win The St James’s Palace Stakes by 1L from Lancaster Bomber and when stepped up to 10f put up a superb effort when going down by a rapidly diminishing nose to Ulysses in The Eclipse. He didn’t get the best of rides when finishing 2L and a neck behind Ulysses and Churchill in the Juddmonte International next time and connections are confident that he will be much closer this time. While the two in front of him that day have been kept busy he has had a nice nine week’s break and will strip a much fresher animal on Saturday.
Surprisingly, a victory in The Champion Stakes is missing from the C.V. of A O’Brien, but with eight entries at the time of writing you would have to think that he is pretty serious about correcting the deficit this time around. A further incentive needless to say is that record of Bobby Frankels which he is so close to breaking. (25 Group1 victories in a season). His best chance probably lies with the doughty Highland Reel. The 5yo son of Galileo has already won six races at the highest level and banked more than six million quid. It will need to stay dry however as he has never won on anything slower than good.
The prize has gone across the Channel four times in the last eleven years and
Jean-Claude Rouget, who won with the 3yo Literato in 2007 looks to have a live contender with another 3yo, Brametot. Quite cheaply bought he must have delighted connections when winning the French 2000Gns and followed up in The Prix Du Jockey Club. Given a 73 day holiday he finished fifth at Deauville in a prep race for The Arc and then ran well to finish fifth again in the Chantilly showpiece itself despite a difficult passage. Probably best at 10f he could be involved at the business end on Saturday.
Selection : Barney Roy
E.W. : Poets Word