British Champions Day 2022: Baaeed, Adayar highlight huge day

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

October 14th, 2022

British Champions Day has been a huge success since its introduction in 2011. With four Group 1 races, a Group 2, and a rich handicap, it has provided an apt climax to the flat racing season.

People who’ve gone to Ascot for Champions Day have often been treated to some spectacular performances. Some horses have confirmed their stardom, such as Frankel and Cracksman, while others have announced their arrival as names to note, none more so than Baaeed in the one-mile Queen Elizabeth II (G1) last year.

Baaeed returns this year, aiming to complete a perfect career. Like Frankel, he will be doing so in the 1 1/4-mile Champion S. (G1) rather than having another go at the Queen Elizabeth II – a race that will itself carry extra poignancy given the recent death of the long-serving monarch.

All six races will be subject to the TwinSpires Rest of the World Bet Back offer, where those who opt in can get up to $10 of their win bet returned if their horse finishes second in a field of at least six runners.

Race 1, 8:25 a.m. ET: British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2), 2 miles, 3-year-olds and up

It’s been a strange season for #5 Trueshan, the winner of this race for the last two years. He looked like he was as good as ever when winning the Northumberland Plate on the Newcastle all-weather carrying 148 pounds, one of the best handicap performances in many years. But good ground dulled his effectiveness in the Goodwood Cup (G1), and he surprisingly didn’t get past #1 Coltrane in the Doncaster Cup (G2).

Back on soft ground, he will be a much tougher proposition, and I’d expect him to turn the tables on Coltrane. The one I think could beat him, however, is St. Leger (G1) winner #7 Eldar Eldarov. His only defeat this year was over an unsuitable 1 1/2 miles in the Grand Prix de Paris (G1), and two miles on softish going should suit him.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #7 Eldar Eldarov
  • $2 trifecta: 5, 7 with 5, 7 with all

Race 2, 9 a.m. ET: British Champions Sprint (G1), 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up

Barring the Aussie Nature Strip in the King’s Stand (G1) and the much-improved mare Highfield Princess, European sprinters have been a relatively average bunch, and it shows up here. A field of 18 is set to start, with the favorites possibly as high as 5-1, nearly unheard of in Group 1 races.

The most popular win would be if #7 King’s Lynn got home to give King Charles III his first Group 1 victory – and hopefully inspire further patronage in the sport. But despite some useful runs this year, the new king’s first top level success will probably be somewhere else.

Given the likelihood of softish footing that places more emphasis on stamina, I’m going to support the seven-furlong specialist #8 Kinross. He’s in career-best form following his Prix de la Foret (G1) victory at Longchamp Oct. 2, and should give this field a great shake for Frankie Dettori.

Otherwise, I’m going to lend some support to #2 Brad The Brief. He won two races on soft footing in May and after being withdrawn from a couple of races in recent months, he should enjoy the damper footing here.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #8 Kinross
  • $5 win/show: #2 Brad The Brief

Race 3, 9:40 a.m. ET: Champions Fillies & Mares (G1), 1 1/2 miles, 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares

It would be nice to see former Aussie champ #9 Verry Elleegant find her best here, and if she did she would be a great chance. But her form in France suggests the best prospects are elsewhere.

Her new trainer Francis-Henri Graffard probably has a better chance with Prix Vermeille (G1) winner #7 Sweet Lady, but I’m going with another trainer who’s double handed in William Haggas. #6 Sea La Rosa has been in fantastic form his season, and won the Prix de Royallieu (G1) nicely on Oct 1. I also wouldn’t rule out Hughie Morrison’s #14 Stay Alert, a progressive filly who has claims as well, but I’m going with Sea La Rosa.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #6 Sea La Rosa

Race 4, 10:20 a.m. ET: Queen Elizabeth II (G1), 1 mile, 3-year-olds and up

The veteran, the leading filly, or the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) favorite? Take your pick.

French raider #5 The Revenant won this race in 2020, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifier for the Mile, and has a decent showing again following his Prix Daniel Wildenstein (G2) second-place finish Oct. 1. However, he might want more rain.

Though BC Mile favorite #8 Modern Games is present, it looks hard to see leading filly #9 Inspiral beaten. She may encounter softer ground than she’s encountered, but she should be close.

#2 Jadoomi and #6 Bayside Boy are clearly chances on soft ground, and don’t rule the improved #4 Tempus out of multiples.

  • $20 win: #9 Inspiral
  • $1 trifecta: 9 with 5, 8 with 2, 4, 5, 6, 8

Race 5, 11 a.m. ET: Champion (G1), 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds and up

The big race everyone will be waiting for, and another Breeders’ Cup qualifier, this time for the Turf (G1). After deciding against the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), the Champion S. has been made the end-of-career destination for Europe’s highest-rated horse, #2 Baaeed. But what was expected to be another romp (and it still may be) was turned unexpectedly competitive when Charlie Appleby decided to start #1 Adayar.

Last year’s Epsom Derby (G1) winner has had a troubled season but warmed up nicely against two other runners at Doncaster. This is a big step up, but he has the class to stay somewhere Baaeed.

The leading two dominate so much that a useful field of others, notably #3 Bay Bridge, probably won’t get too close. The best chance is probably a trifecta with all to take third.

  • $3 trifecta: 2 with 1 with all
  • $1 trifecta: 1 with 2 with all

Race 6, 11:40 a.m. ET: Balmoral H., 1 mile, 3-year-olds and up

Highly competitive as always for a UK handicap, with the favorite in the 20-horse field at 15-2. A number of runners has some black type experience, and I’m going to follow one of them in #12 Sweet Believer. To get within two lengths of Queen Elizabeth II runner Bayside Boy last out augurs well for this field, so I’m going to give her a chance.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #12 Sweet Believer