The QIPCO Champion Stakes is the most valuable mile and a quarter race run in Europe and a sensational finale is on the cards with the star group of Roaring Lion, Cracksman, Crystal Ocean and Capri among 14 entries.
Cracksman evoked memories of his sire, Frankel, when a dazzling seven-length winner of the race 12 months ago and has added two more Group 1 victories to his CV this term – the Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp and Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom. On his other start this term, he chased home Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Roaring Lion has thrived on his racing this year and has shown a mile and a quarter to be his optimum trip on his past three starts – reeling off successive Group 1 wins in the Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International Stakes and QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes. The grey, owned by Qatar Racing Limited, also won the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes at York in May in between finishing fifth in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and third in the Investec Derby.
Gosden has other potential strings to his bow in Monarchs Glen, absent since winning the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot and Maverick Wave.
Stoute Looks for First QIPCO British Champions Day Win
Sir Michael Stoute has yet to enjoy a winner on QIPCO British Champions Day and will be hoping to change that with either Mirage Dancer or Crystal Ocean. The latter won the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal Meeting before being touched off by Poet’s Word, his stablemate, in a compelling QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. On his latest start he again had to settle for second, finding a concession of 8lb to Enable too much to handle in the 188Bet September Stakes at Kempton.
Capri was a close fifth to Enable in this month’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, having won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and William Hill St Leger last season. He is among five Aidan O’Brien-trained representatives.
WHAT THEY SAY:
John Gosden, the trainer of Roaring Lion, Cracksman and Monarchs Glen
“He’s improved so dramatically this year and been a fabulous horse to train. I’ve never had a horse get bigger and stronger like he has – and his constitution has truly impressed me.
“The extraordinary thing about him is that he’s had a tough season – he’s been hard at it since February – yet he’s come back for more. He’s in a good place mentally and physically. I think the trainer’s more likely to go over the top than him.
“He would be the very legitimate favourite for the QIPCO Champion Stakes but would not want it very soft or heavy. He’s got the class and speed to run over that mile [in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes] if that were the case and we’ll keep an eye on what’s around us [weather wise].
“He showed a lot of guts in the Eclipse and was hugely impressive in the Juddmonte. Then he had an impossible task at Leopardstown when forced to go round five horses off no place. I don’t know how he quickened like he did.
2018 Irish Champion Stakes Replay
“He’s always been a fun horse to be around. He wasn’t with us in the spring but with some horses it takes a little time to get in the groove. You ask a football manager – it takes quite a long time to gel players together or get someone doing what you want them to do. It’s no different with horses as with humans.
“He was a complete playboy and during the winter spent great deal of time on his hind legs. He was a real lad and liked mucking about – the type who that if he went into town you’d have to make sure he didn’t start a fight. He came good with racing. It’s got him disciplined and professional.”
“It’s not been an easy year for Cracksman and the driest summer since 1976 was no help to him but he’s a fabulous horse. I don’t think he’s descended, so much as he’s hit rather a plateau.
“He’s in top order. It’s hard to criticise a horse whose won two Group 1s this year and been second in a Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot in a very good time on fast ground, but he wasn’t quite mentally with us that day.
“He got very interested in the girls [fillies] coming back from the Windsor Forest. They were walking back into the stables and on a hot day and were sweaty. He obviously caught a little whiff of them and was rather keen to get over the hedge and say hello to them.
“He’s worked well since and runs whatever the ground. He’s hugely talented and I think you will see a lot of what you saw last year. He runs whatever the ground and I should think it will be his last race.”
“It was a great run [in the Wolferton last time] and it’s quite likely he will run. We had a couple of spots for him but decided that rather than go for the Prix Dollar at Longchamp, where we were concerned about the ground, or the Darley at Newmarket, where the ground was too quick, we would save him for Ascot.”
David Redvers, racing and bloodstock manager for Qatar Racing, the owners of Roaring Lion
“It’s been the culmination of ten years work to finally have a horse who is up there among best in the world. It’s been fantastic to be involved in him.
“We buy a lot of horses but at that [Keeneland] sale we only bought three or four, and he was the nap. You try and find horses with angles and, though it’s a horrible old expression, of ticking every box.
“For us he was by the right sire, we knew he’d handle turf, he was out of a young mare and he was a hell of a physical [specimen]. He had great movement and was very correct – everything we look for.
“He has the most remarkable constitution. He had a pretty tough race at Leopardstown but was already charging around the place and wanting more a few days later.”
Sir Michael Stoute, the trainer of Crystal Ocean
“We are planning to run him in the QIPCO Champion Stakes. It would have been better for the owner if he’d won the King George but it was a very brave effort and we’ve really been pleased with the way he has progressed. He will be dropping back in distance but he is effective at ten [furlongs].”
15 QIPCO Champion Stakes entries
Addeybb (IRE) Capri (IRE) Cracksman (GB) Crystal Ocean (GB) Maverick Wave (USA) Mirage Dancer (GB) Monarchs Glen (GB) Subway Dancer (IRE) Rhododendron (IRE) Roaring Lion (USA) Verbal Dexterity (IRE) Athena (IRE) Magical (IRE) Magic Wand (IRE)