Qipco Champion Stakes (Group 1) | 1m2f | 3yo+ | ITV/SKY
The incredibly tough and supremely talented Magical powered through soft ground at this meeting 12 months ago when beating Coronet by a length in the Group 1 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
Magical and Aidan O'Brien, photo Liesl King
Since then the daughter of Galileo has proved a model of consistency in nine starts, which includes two Group 1 victories and three seconds behind the mighty Enable.
She arrives on the back of a creditable fifth behind Waldgeist in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and rates a worthy favourite at 7-4.
Three-year-olds have won just two of the last ten runnings
Trainer Aidan O’Brien said: "She’s an unbelievable mare and has an unbelievable constitution. We’ve been happy with her since France. She hasn’t done much since, but what she’s done has been good. We’re looking forward to seeing her run.
"She handles ease in the ground and doesn’t usually have a problem with a mile and a quarter, so we’re hopeful."
Wetter the better for Addeybb
There aren’t many top-class horses who truly enjoy a slog in deep mud, but Addeybb is certainly one of them.
That's why connections were disappointed to hear this week the race had been switched to the inner hurdles track as underfoot conditions on that course will be far less extreme.
Trainer William Haggas said: “They have to go on the inner track to save the card, but for him it’s not ideal because it’s not going to be soft enough to give him a chance. If it’s heavy, it’s anyone’s race.
“I suspect it will ride soft, but it makes it harder for him. It’s not an ideal scenario for us, but if it saves the card, then we’re all grateful for the switch.
“He’s very well and he’s been prepared for this. I’d love it to pour with rain after the first.”
Coronet bids to end career on a high
Coronet, another who has suffered several rear views of Enable in the past, has landed two of her three races as a four-year-old and comes into the race in fine form after landing the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville in August.
She stayed on strongly to beat With You by three-quarters of a length that day, and trainer John Gosden is hoping she can go out in a blaze of glory prior to her retirement to the paddocks.
“We've targeted Coronet at this race for some time now and she has looked better than ever this year, winning two Group 1s in France,” he said.
“This will be her last race before being retired. She's been pleasing in the run up to it and will love the ground.”
Deirdre concludes European adventure
Japanese challenger Deirdre rounds off her four-race European Group 1 campaign and connections are convinced she remains in top form.
The five-year-old mare, winner of the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in August, has also finished sixth to Crystal Ocean in Royal Ascot’s Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes and fourth to Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
Trainer Mitsuru Hashida said: “She is extremely tough and capable and can adjust to different environments.
“I’m happy that we have kept her fit and in good condition and I believe she can handle the uphill finish at Ascot, having run there before.”
Gosden has ground fears for Mehdaayih
Mehdaayih, a stablemate of the much shorter-priced Coronet, is by no means a certain runner on account of the underfoot conditions.
The three-year-old, who finished an excellent runner-up to Deirdre in the Nassau Stakes, has done most of her racing on much faster conditions.
Trainer John Gosden warned: “Mehdaayih didn't handle the heavy ground at Longchamp. I'll be walking the course for before making a call on her participation.
“It's only been two weeks since that effort but she seems in good form and deserves a change of luck.”
I Can Fly bids to end losing sequence
I Can Fly arrives on the back of a losing run of nine, yet it would be no real surprise if she took off in this race, bearing in mind how well she fared at this meeting 12 months ago.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained filly made Roaring Lion pull out all the stops in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes when sent off at 33-1.
Although unable to get her head in front since Dundalk in March, I Can Fly has posted a series of creditable efforts in Group 1 company and there will be far worse 20-1 shots.
O’Brien said: "I Can Fly is in good form. She's a solid filly who didn't really come to herself until this meeting last year. We're hopeful."
What the rest say
Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park Stud, owners of Regal Reality
He’s a different horse on fast ground. He’s in terrific form, but the ground is against him.
Andrew Balding, trainer of Fox Tal
I think a lot of him. It’s a leap of faith on this ground but I hope he’ll cope with it. He’s got a bit to find on ratings but is in great order. If he does what he does at home then he has a chance of being placed.
James Fanshawe, trainer of Pondus
He’s got to find a bit. Addeybb beat him fair and square at Haydock, but he’s very well in himself.