Dettori eager for horses to be the headline act on Champions Day

By Sports Desk August 08, 2023

Frankie Dettori is keen for the equine stars to be the focus of attention on Qipco Champions Day, despite the fact the Ascot extravaganza will also be his swansong on European soil.

The entries for the five main races on the October 21 card were published on Tuesday, with the brilliant Paddington headlining a stellar cast

Having secured his fourth Group One victory of the season in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last week, Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old has been entered for the both the £1.3million Qipco Champion Stakes and the £1.1million Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

The three remaining Pattern races – the Long Distance Cup, the British Champions Sprint and the Fillies & Mares Stakes – each offer a total prize fund of £500,000, meaning prize money for Champions Day totals £4.1million, cementing its position as the richest raceday in the British calendar.

Entries also include the unbeaten Prix du Jockey Club winner Ace Impact and the last two Betfred Derby winners in Auguste Rodin and Desert Crown, as well as other Group One stars in the shape of the impressive Prince of Wales’s winner Mostahdaf and star sprinter Shaquille, winner of both the Commonwealth Cup and the July Cup this season.

But for all the brilliant action set to take place on the track, for many the star attraction will be Dettori, who is set to make his final appearance in Britain and Europe before retiring from the saddle later in the year.

He said: “Qipco British Champions Day is a great concept with great prize money. Racing for the kind of money which the rest of the world is doing more regularly.

“It was very hard to pick my last day riding in England. I had thought about Newmarket the week before but Ascot is my favourite track with so many great memories. It is going to be a special day and my family is going to be there.

“I don’t want to take the gloss off the day. The day is about the best day’s racing and not about my last day riding here before I go to America for the Breeders’ Cup and then Australia and Hong Kong before retiring at the end of the year.”

Reflecting on some of his Champions Day highlights, the 52-year-old added: “It was very good last year with Emily Upjohn coming back to win (the Fillies & Mares) after a long layoff and then Kinross, my favourite horse, winning first the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp and then 13 days later the British Champions Sprint.

“Another highlight was Cracksman, who gave me a first win after years of trying in the Champion Stakes in 2017 and won it again the next year.”

Related items

  • Frankel sibling Kikkuli upholds family honour at Newmarket Frankel sibling Kikkuli upholds family honour at Newmarket

    Kikkuli ensured a notable family line and famous silks returned to the winner’s enclosure by claiming the Alex Scott Maiden Stakes at Newmarket in promising fashion.

    The Harry Charlton colt, who is a half-brother of the great Frankel, shed his maiden tag with a gutsy performance during the seven-furlong contest in the green and pink colours of Juddmonte Farms in the hands of Ryan Moore.

    He was placed in midfield for much of the race, where Manhattan Mirage flew into a huge lead but quickly weakened, before Moore found a gap for Kikkuli to power through.

    Market leader Creative Story threatened to spoil the party by getting his nose in front at one point, but Kikkuli fought back to regain the lead and prevailed by a neck at 5-2, as he built on his encouraging debut last year with his first success.

    “It’s wonderful to have him in the yard, but it comes with a little bit of added pressure. It means a lot to the family and a lot to racing,” Charlton told RacingTV about training Frankel’s half-sibling.

    “We were hopeful we would see a similar performance to last year with that finish and I think with that final furlong, we saw that strength come through.

    “There’s no immediate plan. Ryan said there is something in there but bide your time, he will be even better next year. No grand plans immediately but Ryan was hopeful we will get there one day.”

    Ten Bob Tony (7-1) produced a fine one-length success in the bet365 EBF Conditions Stakes to complete a quickfire double for Ed Walker.

    The three-year-old contested the lead with Bold Style on the near rail before the challenger moved two lengths clear. Ten Bob Tony then clawed back the advantage with two furlongs to go, as odds-on favourite Boiling Point made headway to try and dispute.

    Roger Varian’s colt got to within half a length of the leading pair before jockey Tom Marquand judged the ride perfectly for Ten Bob Tony to finish strongly.

    Walker hinted at a tilt at the Qipco 2000 Guineas, where his charge is now priced at 40-1 from 100-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power.

    “He just showed a great attitude there, didn’t he?” Walker said. “Tom gave him a perfect ride and got the fractions right, and he hit the line really well.

    “I think it has to be (targeting the 2000 Guineas). First horse for a new owner and the dream’s alive – and I think it has to be if he comes out of it well. He loves the track, so why not?”

    Walker’s first triumph of the day came through 20-1 shot Hafeet Alain, who literally got his nose in front when it mattered most to land the Mutasaabeq New For 2024 Handicap.

    Jockey Saffie Osborne was off the bridle with three furlongs left as Hafeet Alain swooped to the outside and started to gain on the challengers, getting ahead of Majestic inside the final 200 metres.

    He battled gamely to move clear but Dutch Decoy was powering home and was a touch unlucky to be beaten by a nose, with Daysofourlives and Theoryofeverything close behind in third and fourth respectively.

    “He’s a star,” Walker said of Hafeet Alain. “Last season, he had a great season and he just loves his racing, he is so game. He’s such a game horse, he’s a legend. A real yard favourite.”

    Arran ensured Paul and Oliver Cole remained unbeaten with their juveniles so far this season by claiming the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.

    The colt – sired by Havana Grey – grabbed the early lead, which he never relinquished.

    He held off a late charge from The Actor to win by a neck at 6-1 for the Coles’ second success with two-year-old runners this campaign. Hallasan, who is by multiple Group One winner Pinatubo and went off as market leader, finished in third.

    Hugo Palmer got his first winner on the turf this season as Watcha Matey powered to a two-and-a-quarter-length victory in the JRA Handicap.

    The three-year-old was prominent throughout the mile contest and did not panic when the aptly-named Crown Estate hit the front three furlongs out in the Royal colours.

    However, that runner quickly weakened, leaving Watcha Matey, The Camden Colt and The Ice Phoenix battling for the lead in the closing stages, before the eventual winner kicked on for a convincing triumph.

    Tees Spirit (10-1) ran out a good winner under the guidance of Mia Nicholls in the It’s Never Ordinary At bet365 Handicap.

    The six-year-old, who had placed just once since his last win in August 2022, established an early lead on the far rail and was three lengths clear by the time they hit the halfway mark in the five-furlong race.

    He weakened and drifted inside late on, but still crossed the line one and three-quarter lengths ahead of the strong-finishing Navello.

  • Jimmy Quinn puts off retirement plans – for now! Jimmy Quinn puts off retirement plans – for now!

    Britain’s oldest professional jockey Jimmy Quinn has confirmed his intention to continue riding until the end of the season, having initially planned to announce his retirement at Newmarket on Tuesday.

    The 56-year-old has enjoyed multiple big-race victories during a 40-year career, most notably making the most of his light weight when coming in for the ride aboard John Best’s rapid two-year-old Kingsgate Native, who provided him with a first Group One victory in the 2007 Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

    With the Charlie Hills-trained Bodorgan his only booked ride at this year’s Craven meeting, Quinn felt the time had come to call it a day, but he has now been persuaded to carry on for the rest of the year.

    “It (licence) runs out today and word got out on the street pretty quick (regarding the planned retirement),” he told Racing TV.

    “I got a few phone calls, positive ones from senior riders and other people riding, and one of them said ‘why are you packing up at the start of the season, why not ride for a bit longer in the summer?’

    “I’m going to reapply for my licence again and ride until probably the end of the season on the turf and then say thank you very much.

    “I’ve had a lot of support over the years and I’ve had a few good phone calls to say keep going with it. I have no weight issues, I’m pretty fit and ride out every day.

    “Even if I get 20 rides between now and then, it’s 20 rides. I enjoy it a lot still, it’s a great job and it keeps you young. It keeps you active and gives you something to aim at every day.”

  • Fry backing In Excelsis Deo to strike Silver gold Fry backing In Excelsis Deo to strike Silver gold

    In Excelsis Deo will not be winning out of turn if he can belatedly open his account for the season in the Matt Hampson Foundation Silver Trophy Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

    Although winless since making a successful British and chasing debut for Harry Fry at Hereford in December 2022, the JP McManus-owned six-year-old has run several good races in defeat and his trainer feels he is due a change of fortune.

    Placed on his first two starts of the current campaign at Cheltenham, the Saddex gelding may well have secured top honours on his next appearance at Sandown but for unseating Jonathan Burke at the final fence.

    He then did well to finish as close as he did when fifth at the Cheltenham Festival last month after being hampered by a faller four fences from home.

    Fry feels In Excelsis Deo has more than enough ability to claim victory in Wednesday’s Grade Two feature if getting the rub of the green.

    “He bumped into Madara in December, who then went and won at the Dublin Racing Festival, and we obviously unseated when with every chance at the last at Sandown on his next run,” said the trainer.

    “I think it’s fair to say he hasn’t necessarily had luck on his side or the rub of the green this season, but he’s been running well in defeat and, with a bit of luck in running, hopefully he won’t be too far away in this.

    “Hopefully he can put it all together and he’ll be in there with every chance.”

    The title-chasing pair of Dan Skelton and Paul Nicholls are both represented in the £70,000 contest, with Skelton saddling Sail Away and Nicholls running course-and-distance winner Il Ridoto.

    Sail Away returns to handicap company after finishing last of four in the Grade One Ascot Chase, while Il Ridoto has been placed in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the December Gold Cup and on Festival Trials day at Cheltenham this season, but could finish only eighth in the Plate on his latest visit.

    “He’s a standing dish at Cheltenham and usually runs very well in these two-and-a-half-mile handicaps,” Nicholls told Betfair.

    “It didn’t quite happen for him last time at the Festival, when he was towards the rear in the early stages before staying on at the finish. He has his chance, but is probably still on a stiff enough handicap mark.”

    Scarface has won three of his last four starts over fences for Joe Tizzard and faces a rise in class.

    Tizzard said: “He’s done nothing wrong and we were tempted to wait for Sandown next week, but the forecast is drying out all the time and we thought we’d have a go here.

    “It’s a step up, but he’s in cracking form and he’s on the upgrade.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.