What’s in a name?
24 October 2014
There has been much debate about Qipco British Champions Day recently and much of it has revolved around its place in the racing calendar. I do not believe there is anywhere for it to go, if it has to be run on soft ground, so be it. The state of the ground did not spoil a spectacular day last week and I suspect the same will apply going forward. If there is a problem however, it is more one of expectation that arises from its name - Champions Day.
The day is called Champions Day and thus we expect champions to be crowned. This will not always be the case on soft ground though, particularly at a time of the year when some horses are out injured after a long season. Some are over the top and some just want better ground.
The day does not necessarily crown champions, but it does produce fantastic top class racing. Thus by calling it Champions Day are we raising our expectations too high and giving the event a name it cannot live up to because of its place in the calendar?
Qipco and Ascot want the best in the world to congregate in October and race for tremendous prize money and they will, whatever the event is called. It could be the case that we are asking too much of it by naming it Champions Day.
I am grateful to John Sandys who mailed the Racing UK Studio on Wednesday reminding us that the event used to be called the Festival of British Racing. That is what got me thinking about this issue and if Champions Day was actually called The Qipco Festival of British Racing, expectations would not be raised too high. If one or more champions raced at the meeting or one or more horses put up a champion performance then so much the better. If not, it would still be a fantastic end of season festival.
I do not have a strong view on the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, other than I think it would be fair to say this is not the strongest renewal of the race. I do, however, think that Dungannon will win the Betdaq Betting Exchange 30 Free Bet Handicap at 3.15. He won this race last year and comes into the contest in good form on the back of a win at Ascot where he shaped much better than the bare result. Held up on that occasion, he travelled sweetly and quickened to the front with ease. He then got tired and was clinging on a bit when he got to the line. A better-timed challenge would have seen him win cosily and he can be rated a good deal better than the result. He goes well at the track, acts with cut in the ground and will get plenty of pace to run at. In short there is plenty to like about Dungannon today and he should be backed each-way.
Next week I will be writing two Breeders’ Cup blogs on Friday and Saturday. I remain a massive fan of the event and I am thoroughly looking forward to it. We may see a champion or two, but at least the expectation levels as far as this is concerned, are a product of reputation as opposed to its name.
Angus McNae's Saturday Tip