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Thursday, September 15, 2011



QIPCO British Champions Day pivotal to chance of winning

his first UK Trainers’ Championship since 1993


Sir Henry Cecil passed the £2m prize money mark for the season with a hat-trick of winners yesterday at three different tracks, but he remains fourth in the table and still trails the defending champion, Richard Hannon, by over £600,000.


Cecil’s chances of landing his 11th trainers’ title and his first since 1993 will hinge entirely on QIPCO British Champions Day, the richest day in British racing history, at Ascot on Saturday 15th October. His four heavyweight contenders – Frankel, Twice Over, Midday and Vita Nova - could carry off £1,725,605 if they were to achieve their best possible placings, more than half the day’s £3m total prize fund.


Despite strong opposition in the shape of French raider Immortal Verse and perhaps the fast-improving Excelebration in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes sponsored by QIPCO, the mighty Frankel must have a tremendous chance of extending his unbeaten record to nine races and lifting the first prize of £567,100.


In the QIPCO Champion Stakes, today’s news that ante-post favourite So You Think will instead be aimed at the Arc has greatly boosted the chances of Twice Over and Midday, first and second in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York last month. Twice Over is chasing a record-equalling third successive Champion Stakes victory.


With £737,230 for first place and £279,500 for the runner-up, a repeat of that famous York one-two would net the master of Warren Place a further £1,016,730 in the richest horserace ever to be run in Britain.


Before either of those races is run, the Darley Yorkshire Oaks runner-up, Vita Nova, who is blossoming into a high-class, middle distance filly, would bring in another £141,775 if successful in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.


Another award could also be heading Cecil’s way at Ascot. He currently heads the QIPCO British Champions Series trainers’ leaderboard with six winners, one ahead of Mahmood Al Zarooni.


With one more second place and one more third place to his name than the Godolphin handler, Cecil is in a very strong position with just the Nayef Joel Stakes at Newmarket tomorrow week (Friday 23 September) and the five championship races on QIPCO British Champions Day to come.


 “With a month to go, there are already so many compelling reasons to come to Ascot on Saturday 15 October, with Frankel’s last appearance of the season and Sir Henry Cecil’s final assault on the UK trainers’ championship undoubtedly heading that list,” said Rod Street, Chief Executive of British Champions Series Ltd.


“Only about 1,200 Premier admission tickets remain to be sold, hospitality is already a virtual sell-out and Grandstand tickets are picking up momentum with our main marketing drive having started last week.


“We’ll be looking to create a wonderful sense of theatre at Ascot for the big climax to the season and the way things are looking at the moment, Sir Henry could be playing the leading role amongst a panoply of equine stars. It promises to be a day to remember.”


Tickets can be booked by visiting www.britishchampionsseries.com. They cost £45 for Premier admission and £26 for Grandstand admission. A 10% advance booking discount applies until the end of September







1 Henry Cecil




2 Mahmood Al Zarooni




3 Aidan O’Brien




4 John Gosden




5 Richard Hannon




6 David Simcock





Ladbrokes bet: Sir Henry Cecil 1/6; M Al Zarooni 6/1; J Gosden 16/1; A O'Brien 16/1


This is decided on the number of winners ridden/trained across the 35 race series. In the event of a tie, the number of seconds and thirds (and, if necessary, lower placings) will be taken into account. The winner will be presented with a specially commissioned trophy on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 15 October and his nominated charity will receive a cheque for £25,000.







Beacon Lodge is primed for action in the £100,000 Group Two Nayef Joel Stakes (2.25pm), a highlight on day two of the fantastic three-day Cambridgeshire Meeting on Friday, September 23 at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course.


The Cambridgeshire Meeting runs from Thursday, September 22 through to Saturday, September 24 and this year features a total of seven Pattern races including three Group One championship contests.


Friday’s excellent eight-race card, sponsored by Shadwell, also features the Group One Shadwell Fillies’ Mile, which has been transferred to Newmarket from Ascot. The Nayef Joel Stakes, newly upgraded to Group Two status and part of the QIPCO British Champions Series, provides outstanding support to that juvenile championship event.


The mile contest for three-year-olds and upwards has attracted a high-class entry, among them Group One winners Excelebration, Rio De La Plata, Poet’s Voice and Zoffany, as well as Dubawi Gold, runner-up to the mighty Frankel over the course and distance in the Group One QIPCO 2000 Guineas in April.


Beacon Lodge, trained by Clive Cox, has been a model of consistency in high-class company this year and has finished second or third against leading lights in his three most recent starts.


The six-year-old, who saw off none other than Sahpresa when winning a Chantilly Group Three two seasons back, was within touching distance of Strong Suit when third in the Group Two Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in July and was then a fine second to subsequent Group One winner Excelebration in Newbury’s Group Two Hungerford Stakes on August 13, with both races over seven furlongs.


Beacon Lodge, who began the year with a Listed race triumph at Haydock, was third on his most recent start in the Group Two Celebration Mile at Goodwood, just a length behind Dubawi Gold. He heads to Newbury for the Listed Dubai Duty Free Cup on Saturday, September 16, before taking in his Newmarket engagement.


Cox revealed today: “We are looking at the Nayef Joel Stakes for Beacon Lodge, that’s the plan for him. I’m very happy indeed with him at present - he is in good form.


“The ground should be to his liking and obviously he loses a Listed penalty there, so that will help. We have had a wonderful season with him, he has remained consistent throughout against some very good horses and I hope he will give another honest performance at Newmarket.”


Other talented contenders among the 21 entries for the Nayef Joel Stakes are last year’s impressive winner Cityscape, recently successful in a Curragh Group Three, Godolphin’s Group Two winners Saamidd, Delegator and Emerald Commander, Group Two-winning globetrotter Musir from the yard of South African trainer Mike de Kock and Libranno, who had Beacon Lodge in third when winning the Group Three John Sunley Memorial Criterion Stakes at Newmarket in June.



So You Think moved to within four points of Cartier Horse Of The Year pace-setter Frankel with a brilliant victory at Leopardstown on September 3, while an array of fabulous performances from fellow leading candidates in Ireland, France and England saw the race for Cartier Awards honours intensify.


Established in 1991 to reward excellence in horseracing, the Cartier Awards are determined by points earned by horses in Pattern races throughout 2011, combined at the end of season with the opinions of a panel of racing journalists and votes from readers of the Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph.


In addition to those eight equine awards, the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit goes to the person or persons who, in the opinion of the special 18-strong Cartier Jury, has/have done the most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months.


European horseracing’s equivalent of the Oscars will be presented on the evening of Tuesday, November 15, during a glittering ceremony before an invited audience at London’s Dorchester Hotel.


So You Think, the outstanding champion of the Australian racing scene before his relocation to Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle Stables in Ireland ahead of the current season, made it four wins from five starts this year when landing the Group One Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes from the 2010 Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly Award winner, Snow Fairy.


The imposing High Chaparral five-year-old, whose only defeat this term came when a narrow second to the ill-fated Rewilding in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, now has 132 points against Frankel’s 136, thanks to his half-length verdict over last year’s dual Oaks heroine in Leopardstown’s prestigious 10-furlong contest.



So You Think now heads the Cartier Older Horse division from the Sir Henry Cecil-trained multiple Group One-winning mare Midday (100 points). The great miler Goldikova has won 14 Group/Grade One contests and last year’s Cartier Horse of The Year has 96 points, while Cirrus Des Aigles leapt to 84 points with his fourth win of the season in the Group Two Lucien Barriere Grand Prix de Deauville on August 28.


Sarafina (80) has next month’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as her target and the Aga Khan’s homebred four-year-old filly unleashed an impressive turn of foot to win one of the leading trials for that showpiece, the Group Two Qatar Prix Foy on Arc Trials Day at Longchamp, on September 11. That narrow win moved Alain de Royer-Dupre’s charge  into Cartier Older Horse contention. Crack miler Canford Cliffs, retired due to injury, also has 80 points. 


Dream Ahead (80) swept to the head of the Cartier Sprinter Award standings and also improved his position in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt division with a second Group One win of the year in the six-furlong Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on September 3, in which he beat Bated Breath (40) by a nose in a thrilling finish.


Society Rock (64), winner of the Group One Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June currently lies second in the list but was only sixth at Haydock. Meanwhile, Group One King’s Stand Stakes victor Prohibit took his tally to 61 points thanks to a determined head success in the Group Three Qatar Prix du Petit Couvert over five furlongs at Longchamp on September 11.


The mighty Frankel, trained by Sir Henry Cecil to win each of his eight career starts, sits in pole position in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt standings as he bids to add to last year’s triumph in the Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt Award. His nearest rival for that accolade is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Group One Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and Grade One Secretariat Stakes hero Treasure Beach (108) with Dream Ahead next best.


Reliable Man (72), trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, re-entered the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award equation with an impressive success at Longchamp on Sunday, September 11. The Prix du Jockey Club hero had lost his unbeaten tag when a below-par fourth to Meandre in the Group One Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris in July, but bounced back with a two-length win over that rival in the Group Two Qatar Prix Niel and now heads to the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.


Galikova (72), half-sister to the great Goldikova, enhanced her chances of Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly recognition with an impressive win in the 12-furlong Group One Qatar Prix Vermeille, also at Longchamp on September 11. Her only reversal in five starts this term came when second, beaten a length, to the dual Classic heroine Golden Lilac (76) in the Prix de Diane - Longines at Chantilly in June.


The Godolphin filly, Blue Bunting, winner of the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas, Darley Irish Oaks and Darley Yorkshire Oaks but only sixth to Masked Marvel in the Ladbrokes St Leger on September 10, heads the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly category with 110 points, while Immortal Verse has 96 points followed by Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Misty For Me (78), third to Emulous in the Group One Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on September 3.


The Aidan O’Brien-trained Power (64) stormed to the head of the Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt standings at the Curragh on September 10, with a half-length verdict over Dragon Pulse (32) in the Goffs National Stakes. French-trained duo Dabirsim and Family One both have 40 points, although the former defeated the latter by three lengths when maintaining his unbeaten status in last month’s Group One Darley Prix Morny.


In the Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly division, the O’Brien-trained Maybe (56) extended her perfect record with victory over Fire Lily (34) in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh on August 28. La Collina, who saw off Power to land the Group One Phoenix Stakes earlier that month, was third in the Moyglare and has 34 points, with the Richard Hannon-trained Best Terms (32) winner of the Group Two Jaguar Cars Lowther Stakes at York last time, next.


Opinion Poll heads the Cartier Stayer Award standings with 69 points. The Godolphin five-year-old has landed the Group Two Artemis Goodwood Cup and Group Two Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup since failing to peg back Fame And Glory (51) in the Group One Ascot Gold Cup in June, but was no match for three-year-old Saddler’s Rock when second in the Group Two Stobart Doncaster Cup on September 9.


Duncan (48) was second to Opinion Poll in the Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup at York in August and had Fame And Glory back in fourth when dead-heating for first place with Jukebox Jury in the Group One Irish Field St Leger on September 10.


Harry Herbert, Cartier’s racing consultant, commented today: “The sense of excitement and anticipation at what lies before us in the final two months of this season is almost palpable.


“Trials day at Longchamp on Sunday thoroughly whetted the appetite for the big day itself in Paris on October 2, and QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot 13 days later is also shaping to be an epic event, particularly given the planned participation of the mighty Frankel, who will attempt to extend his unbeaten record and feed his growing legend.


“Events in the past few weeks have emphasised what an exceptionally good season we have been privileged to enjoy. The depth of talent on show is remarkable and, with such a quantity of top-class horses competing, there are likely to be a few twists and turns before the Cartier Awards are presented on November 15.”


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