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Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup - Trueshan
Drying ground is music to the ears of several sets of horse racing connections in the opening Long Distance Cup but not those of reigning champion Trueshan who revels in the mud. Trueshan comes into this race in the form of his life having won Group 1 races on his last two starts but both came on testing ground, similar to what he faced in this contest 12 months ago, and there is no doubt that this 5-year-old handles slow ground much better than most top stayers on the level.
Alan King will be praying that the Ascot ground is no quicker than good to soft because the less moisture in the turf, the more vulnerable Trueshan is.
The list of dangers is headed by Stradivarius and the improving Hamish but Irish raider Baron Samedi could beat them all. The Joseph O’Brien-trained 4-year-old already has Group 1 form in the book, he goes on any ground and is open to more improvement now stepping back up to two miles.
Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes - Dragon Symbol
The return to six furlongs, and possibly the return to Ascot, is surely going to help Dragon Symbol who deserves to win one of these big ones.
Dragon Symbol hasn’t been able to reproduce the level of performance that saw him finish first but demoted to second in the Commonwealth Cup here in the summer and he just continues to find a way to get beat.
For all his talent, Dragon Symbol just doesn’t have the full package required to win at the top level. He can be slowly away, he can get outpaced at crucial stages and he can hang under pressure, any of which can be the difference between victory and defeat when the margins are as small as they are in top-level sprints.
It’s six straight defeats in a row for the Archie Watson-trained sprinter despite being prominent in the betting every time and even a repeat of his peak performance on the figures leaves him a fraction shy of the best Art Power has produced.
This looks wide-open, with several bona fide contenders, and Dragon Symbol looks the one near the top of the market to oppose once more.
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Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares - Love
Six of the last seven editions of this Group 1 contest have been won by a 3-year-old, an age group that get 6lb from their older counterparts, and that sort of weight concession would be tough for an in-form Love, let alone the one that was beaten in a Group 2 at the Curragh when last seen.
Love was a monster 3-year-old, winning the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks, and although she returned with a bang at the royal meeting, Aidan O'Brien's filly hasn’t managed to rediscover the brilliance of her 2020 campaign.
Is there one last hurrah in Love before she heads to the paddocks? It couldn’t be ruled out but she will have to post something close to a career-best effort to concede weight to some potentially top-class 3-year-olds and that just looks beyond her on what we’ve seen this term.
This looks likely to be fought out by La Petite Coco, who got up late to beat Love despite racing over an inadequate trip at the Curragh, and Free Wind, who could hardly have been more impressive in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster.
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Queen Elizabeth II Stakes - Baaeed
This might look an odd one to many but Baaeed feels like poor value at around 13/8 with the bookmaker's in a race that is clearly a good deal deeper than the Prix du Moulin.Baaeed hasn’t put a foot wrong in his career, winning all five starts and coping admirably with the step up in class each time.
However, I’m not convinced that a one-and-a-quarter length victory over Order Of Australia entitles Baaeed to be trading a similar price to Palace Pier who remains the best miler in on the planet even allowing for the fact that he let favourite backers down in this race 12 months ago.
Ratings confirm that Baaeed actually ran to a slightly lower figure in France than he did when running away with a Group 3 at Goodwood, so he didn’t have to improve to win what turned into a bit of a dash in Paris. The QEII is, by some way, the deepest field that Baaeed has faced and he’ll need to win this if he’s going to gazump Palace Pier as the best miler in training. Fillies don’t have a great recent record in this race but it might be unwise to write off Alcohol Free now she drops back to a mile. Official figures put her bang there with Baaeed.
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Qipco Champions Stakes - Adayar
The main reason for opposing Adayar is the modest recent record of 3-year-olds in this contest but I’m also not convinced that he’s going to show his best form back at ten furlongs. The only 3-year-olds to have won this race in the last decade are Cracksman and Alamzor, both of which showed their best form, by some way, over this trip.
Adayar’s form has gone to a new level over a mile and a half this year and this feels like a bit of an afterthought after things didn’t go his way in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The Godolphin colt’s biggest career performance on the numbers came at Ascot where it was his superior stamina that enabled him to see off Mishriff in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes, but that rival is much better suited by this ten-furlong trip, as he showed when destroying his Juddmonte International rivals. Mishriff is capable of throwing in a clanger, as he showed in this race last year, but if he shows up in the same form as at York last time, then jockey David Egan is probably in line for another huge payday.
Rain would bring last year’s winner Addeybb firmly into the reckoning but it’s not easy to see too many of the others being involved in the finish.
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