Spot Plays for British Champions Day

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 20th, 2017

There won't be a better way to spend a Saturday morning than by tuning into British Champions Day, when five lucrative group contests and the Balmoral Handicap make up a stellar six-race program as good as you'd find at Ascot's June Royal meeting.

There are several strong favorites on the card, and while I respect them all, I'll be taking a shot against a few of them in my wagering plans.

Race 1 - British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2)

This rematch between the Gold Cup (G1) one-two, #1 Big Orange and #7 Order of St George, might not pan out as well as one might like given the prevailing soft conditions could negatively effect Big Orange. Order of St George is the one to beat, but was shockingly upset at odds-on in here a year ago after picking up a piece of the purse in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1), which he did once again earlier this month.

There are also ground concerns for #13 Stradivarius, but the three-year-old edged Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup (G1) two back and last time finished a strong third in the St Leger (G1). He looks a soilid candidate for the Gosden/Dettori combo.

Race 2 - British Champions Sprint (G1)

#10 Harry Angel couldn't be going any better entering off back-to-back wins in the July Cup (G1) and Haydock Sprint Cup (G1). While the one to beat, it might be no accident all three of his career losses, as narrow as they might have been, have come at Ascot.

A couple interesting each-way plays are #1 Brando, who beat Acclaim in the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) three back and ran strongly to finish third in this race a year ago, and the filly #12 Quiet Reflection, who prepped well for this in a Group 3 at Naas and was one of the better sprinters in England as a three-year-old. I'll use both in my exotics with Harry Angel.

Race 3 - British Champions Fillies & Mares (G1)

What's the fun of playing the races if you don't take a flyer once in awhile? There are more logical plays, but I'm inclined to take one on #8 Horseplay, who romped on soft ground in a Nottingham maiden last year and was a fringe contender for the Epsom Oaks (G1) off a game win in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket. A distant fourth to Enable in that classic and in the same slot in the Prix de Malleret (G2) at Saint-Cloud when last seen in July, she's in deep but still might have a promising future ahead of her.

Race 4 - Queen Elizabeth II (G1)

Europe's top older miler all season, #4 Ribchester, is obviously the one to beat, but I'd give improving Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) hero #7 Al Wukair and the John Gosden-trained filly #12 Persuasive, who's as honest as the day as long, a look as well.

Race 5 - Champion (G1)

While a big fan of #6 Barney Roy, I don't think he's at his best over 1 1/4 miles. The favored #9 Cracksman has gone from strength-to-strength the last few months, and while 10 furlongs might be on the short side for him, I expect him to end his sophomore campaign with a bang here.

Good luck and enjoy!