Check Out Our Nap, Lay & Big Priced Fancy For British Champions Day At Ascot

Check out our early thoughts on British Champions Day at Ascot.
Check out our early thoughts on British Champions Day at Ascot.

We are set for an enthralling crescendo to the 2021 Flat season, as all eyes head to Ascot for British Champions Day, which serves up a plethora of mouthwatering Group races that will attract some of the premier horses in training to the Berkshire venue. Here at HorseRacing.net, we take an ante-post look at the event and select our Nap and Lay of the day's racing, while also pick out a big-priced fancy that can run well at huge odds...

Nap - Palace Pier - Queen Elizabeth II Stakes

One of the most hotly-anticipated races on British Champions Day is the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which will see a brace of superstars take each other on in one of the clashes of the season. The top-class four-year-old Palace Pier remains unbeaten this season and is set to do battle with the hugely progressive three-year-old Baaeed, who heads into his toughest assignment to date with a 100% record. Add into that the French-trained The Revenant, who was a blistering winner of this race 12 months ago, and is bidding to retain his crown,  then you have a scorching renewal.

However, one of that trio looks superior and that is the John & Thady Gosden-trained PALACE PIER, who has been simply unstoppable this season, and he can rack up his fifth win on the bounce on Saturday with a performance oozing perfection. 

A sparkling winner of the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in the early part of his campaign, the son of Kingman then duly obliterated his rivals in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot before going on to claim yet more Group 1 glory in France. Locking horns with 2000 Guineas hero Poetic Flare that day in the Prix Jacques Le Marois, Palace Pier only beat Jim Bolger's charge by neck, but he was always in the ascendancy that day, and having been away from the rail he managed to maintain a straight line to maintain his advantage.

Five wins from five has catapulted Baaeed into the limelight, and he bagged his first Group 1 last time out when winning the Prix du Moulin, but while he's shaped like a really class prospect, he is yet to tackle a field with this depth, and he's going to find it hard to dominate some battle-hardened rivals, and Saturday could be the day that sees his bubble burst. Entitled to be favourite for the race, Palace Pier can enhance his already lofty reputation and bound to a fine victory to cement his place as one of the best around.

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Palace Pier silk

Palace Pier

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Lay - Trueshan - Long Distance Cup

It had been one of the most eagerly-anticipated clashes of the season, as TRUESHAN and Stradivarius did battle in the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp during the Arc weekend, but it was certainly a one-sided affair with Trueshan bounding to a four-and-a-half length victory in that Group 1 prize.

Now, they could be set for another tussle at Ascot this weekend, as they lock horns in the Long Distance Cup, which will kick of proceedings on Saturday afternoon, and there's no surprise to see Trueshan dominant in the betting. However, the skinny odds available at the time of writing with a possible dry week ahead could be worth taking on about the Alan King-trained five-year-old, who spectacularly won this race back in 2020.

There's little doubt that Trueshan is one of the premier stayers in training, and when conditions are soft he's far superior to the likes of Stradivarius and co, but if conditions were to dry out then you'd first run the risk of King not letting him take his chance, while if he were to line up then he could be vulnerable to some progressive rivals.

A possible springer further down the betting is the William Haggas-trained Hamish, who was last seen bagging a shock victory over Hukum in the September Stakes, and with that charge coming out next time and bounding to victory then Hamish could be a rising star in this division, while the likes of former Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song and 2021 Irish St Leger third Baron Semedi add more depth to the challenge.  Adding in to that Stradivarius, who is one that will relish a quicker surface, then Trueshan will most certainly have his work cut out and he's worth a lay at this current time.

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Big-Priced Fancy - Thunder Moon - British Champions Sprint Stakes

Arguably the toughest punting conundrum on Saturday afternoon is the British Champions Sprint Stakes, which takes place at 14:00, and sitting towards the head of the betting are the likes of Commonwealth Cup first-past-the-post Dragon Symbol, Wokingham Stakes hero Rohaan and Jersey Stakes winner Creative Force. That trio will all be eager to perform to their optimum again at Ascot racecourse, and with the reigning champion Glen Shiel lining up then we are all set for an enthralling renewal of the six-furlong Group 1 event.

Available at 25/1, at the time of writing, the Joseph O'Brien-trained THUNDER MOON is a fascinating entry, as having been regarded as a real Classic hope at the start of the season, the Irish raider is dropping back to six furlongs for a potential crack at this prize. Last of 14 when sent off an 11/2 shot for the 2000 Guineas back at the start of the season, he showed he still has some class when finishing a narrow second in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Deauville two starts later.

Well beaten in the Boomerang Mile on his last visit to the racecourse, O'Brien appears to be potentially treading new waters, with a switch to the sprinting game a possibility for the foreseeable. A return to his two-year-old form would put him into contention here, as he was a fine winner of the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh on his second start, while he was only beaten two-and-a-half lengths by the top-class St Mark's Basilica in the Dewhurst Stakes in his last juvenile start.

Obviously, there's a big question mark hanging over his ability to go the pace of some of these rivals, but with Art Power sure to set a fierce tempo from the outset then it could be a really testing 6f event, and Thunder Moon could be doing all his best work in the latter stages of the race, and he could possibly make the frame in a wide open renewal.

British Champions Sprint Stakes
Thunder Moon silk

Thunder Moon (EW)

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