Three big-priced alternatives to consider on Champions Day

Sands Of Mali sprung a 28/1 surprise when winning the Champions Sprint in 2018.
Sands Of Mali sprung a 28/1 surprise when winning the Champions Sprint in 2018.

With several short-priced favourites lurking on Saturday’s Champions Day card at Ascot, we’ve picked out three big-priced alternatives to consider each-way…

Happy Power - 16/1 (Champions Sprint Stakes)

While it’s difficult to knock the claims of the current 6/4 favourite Dream Of Dreams, the likely presence of a double-figure field means that there ought to be an each-way opportunity or two - especially in the forecast soft conditions. The favourite handled soft going when winning last month’s Sprint Cup at Haydock and will be very difficult to beat, and while several in here have strong claims, the improving Happy Power makes plenty of appeal each-way at around the 16/1 mark. The presence of fellow King Power runner Art Power means he’s very much his owner’s second string here, though there’s been plenty to like with what Happy Power has shown of late, winning each of his last three outings. 

The most recent of those was a convincing success in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket last week, which was his best effort to date on the figures. That performance doesn’t leave him with too much to find, and although he’ll be dropping back to six furlongs for the first time in a while here, he did win twice over this distance as a two-year-old. Unlike with the more-fancied pair of Oxted and Starman, the conditions will hold no fears for Happy Power, and James Doyle is a perfectly capable stand-in for Silvestre De Sousa - who takes the ride on Art Power. 

King Power Racing sprung a surprise in similar conditions when winning this with Donjuan Triumphant 12 months ago, and bearing in mind that each of the last three winners have come home at a double-figure price, Happy Power is fancied to make a good fist of things on just his third try at this level. 

Champions Sprint
Happy Power silk

Happy Power (EW)


Laburnum - 20/1 (Champions Fillies' and Mares' Stakes)

Now that the 2018 winner Magical has seemingly been confirmed for a tilt at the Champion Stakes, the Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes has an open feel to it, particularly in soft conditions. Several of these have overlapping form lines, and each of Dame Malliot (third), Wonderful Tonight (fifth) and Even So (sixth) contested last month’s Prix Vermeille over this trip at Longchamp. Wonderful Tonight will likely be the favourite for this after winning at the same track on Arc weekend a fortnight ago, but it’s Laburnum who appeals as a filly who could be overpriced for this. 

She was fourth on her most recent start in the aforementioned Vermeille, beaten just three and a half lengths by the winner, and that form has worked out particularly well since. She’s been beaten twice by Even So earlier in the campaign, but she appeals as a steadily progressive type, and there’s every reason to think that there could be more to come from her yet after a career best effort last time out, on what will be just her fourth start at this trip. This field is pretty closely matched on form, and it will be interesting to see how the pecking order pans out for the Ballydoyle string when the declarations come through on Thursday. Either way, Larbunum should shorten in the betting when Magical does indeed head elsewhere, and bearing in mind the conditions should hold no fears, she looks an enticing bet to run into a place. 

Fillies' and Mares' Stakes
Laburnum silk

Laburnum (EW)


Escobar - 16/1 (Balmoral Handicap)

Picking the winner of Saturday's Balmoral Handicap will be no mean feat, and 43 horses remain in the race at the time of writing. The fact that so many runners aren't guaranteed a run makes picking out a bet at this stage something of a minefield, though there are plenty of reasons to think that last year's winner Escobar is more than capable of running another big race.

That win rounded off a fine campaign 12 months ago, and although he hasn't quite hit the same heights this term, he's produced several commendable efforts in pattern company - including when finishing third behind Space Blues in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in July. This race on Ascot's straight mile tends to bring out the best in him, finishing a fine second here in 2018, and he takes his chance just 3 lb higher than when winning this last year. We won't know about his draw until later in the week, but he bucked a recent trend when scoring from a high stall 12 months ago, and it would be no surprise should he be able to hit the frame here. 

Balmoral Handicap
Escobar silk

Escobar (EW)

Champion Stakes Odds
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