Galileo Gold and other plays for British Champions Day

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 15th, 2016

I might be proved wrong, but I don't envision any major upsets occurring Saturday morning (U.S. time) in the five British Champions Day group events at Ascot. However, there are few favorites I'll be standing against as well as a some longshots I'll be including in exotics plays.

Long Distance Cup (G1)

Order of St George (#5, 4-5) is difficult to oppose as the likely odds-on choice, but I don't see him as invincible, especially coming off a mere two weeks rest. However, that third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) does show he's the class of the field.

Longshot: With the exception of a dull try in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) last March, Sheikzayedroad (#8, 15-1) has consistently got a piece of the purse every time over the past year. He's a must-use underneath in my vertical exotics.

Sprint (G1)

The three-year-old Quiet Reflection (#14, 5-2) has enjoyed an incredible campaign, most recently making amends for an earlier loss in the July Cup (G1) by scoring impressively in the Haydock Sprint Cup (G1). Heroine of the Commonwealth Cup (G1) here during the Royal meeting, this race seems to go through her.

Second in this race last year and winner of the Diamond Jubilee (G1) during the Royal meet, Twilight Son (#9, 7-1) perhaps is the value play, but I'll stick with the filly on top.

Longshots: Brando (#1, 12-1) nearly won the Wokingham Handicap here in June and, though a cut below top-level quality, he's consistent enough to use in lower gimmick slots. Librisa Breeze (#5, 8-1) looks more capable at longer distances than this, but there's no denying he loves this course (3-2-1-0) and might enjoy the shorter trip.

Fillies & Mares (G1)

Journey (#4, 6-1) narrowly missed to Simple Verse in this race a year ago. After a season-opening third in the Middleton (G2) at York, the John Gosden trainee has won twice and enters this relatively fresh with just one start since May. Must concede seven pounds to her sophomore rivals, but clearly looks the value with Frankie Dettori in the irons.

Queen Elizabeth II (G1)

Galileo Gold (#8, 9-2) exceeded early-season expectations when posting mild upsets of the 2000 Guineas (G1) and St James's Palace (G1), and nearly missing in the Sussex (G1). He'll probably be overlooked again with Minding and Ribchester likely to attract most of the play, but make no mistake this colt might (still) be the best miler of his generation.

Longshot: Lightning Spear (#5, 10-1), in contrast, has underachieved to some extent. Third in the Queen Anne (G1) to Tepin in his seasonal bow, he went through a rough patch during the summer going unplaced twice, but rebounded last time to take the Celebration Mile (G1) at Goodwood. I don't like him to upset younger rivals at the weights, but a placing is possible with his best.

Champion (G1)

Almanzor and Found are the ones to beat for obvious reasons, but I'm hoping Fascinating Rock's (#1, 5-1) recent tune-up in the Royal Whip (G3) will set him up to peak here and defend his title in this 1 1/4-mile test. With just three runs this term he's comparatively fresh, though he'll have to concede weight to both.

Longshot: Jack Hobbs (#3, 12-1) was all the rage entering the 2015 edition of this race, but was a disappointing third behind Fascinating Rock and Found. His only run this year, in April, resulted in him being eased with a pelvic injury. Faces a tall order making a race of it following such a long layoff against this kind of company, but he's still an immensely talented horse on his best day.

Hit the QEII Double for 10X Points at Ascot and Keeneland

(Photo courtesy of Racing Post)