Harry Bentley calls for racing's administrators to consider next time whether unraced horses should be able to run on QIPCO British Champions Day, delivers his race-by-race analysis of the action at Ascot and nominates his ride of this campaign after posting a record number of wins.
Champions Day is no place for unraced horses:
QIPCO British Champions Day is one of the biggest days in our calendar with five fantastic Group races on Saturday. For that reason, I think it is important to say that I think the participation of unraced runner Cap’N is wrong.
I know Brendan Powell has said he can’t turn away owners and, as a trainer, he needs to do what he has got to do. But I’m on Mount Moriah in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Saturday and I don’t know how I would feel if the horse got in my way at a crucial stage.
This is different to Diore Lia in the Derby in June because we knew what to expect from that one, but to be making your racecourse debut on Champions Day seems wrong to me. I think somebody needs to take a look at it.
Champions Day race-by-race:
Mount Moriah and I were third to Order Of St George in the Irish St Leger last month and he just looks a class above. He blew us all away and will like the soft ground more than key rivals Big Orange or Stradivarius, who has a healthy weight advantage of 8lb on most of his rivals.
Mount Moriah will like the step up in trip, will have no issues with the ground but needs to bridge the gap. I’m not sure about the chances of last year’s winner Sheikhzayedroad, who has been disappointing this season, nor Duretto, who looks to need to step up. This is not an easy Group Two.
Harry Angel looks to be the standout horse of the Qipco British Champions Sprint, if not the whole day. I think he is a better horse, and a more mature horse than when he was beaten by Caravaggio at Royal Ascot.
If I was riding him on Saturday, I would be thinking what the Aidan O’Brien horses were going to do. If one of them were to take me on I would rather let them lead than get in a battle up front. I don’t think Harry Angel has to lead but more importantly, if he can settle then he is very dangerous.
The Tin Man and Quiet Reflection look closely matched and I’m not sure, if I had the chance, which of them I would ride but The Tin Man has such strong Ascot form, and that could make the difference.
The Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares is not a race that I have a strong opinion on. It is easy to see that Bateel is very good on soft ground, and after 7mm of rain in 24 hours Ascot is soft all over.
I don’t see how on that ground last year’s winner Journey can turn the form around.
I think you have to forgive Ribchester his defeat to Here Comes When at Goodwood when the ground was very soft and most of them were walking home after a strong pace. I think it was just one of those things and Ribchester has been very consistent otherwise. He showed last time in France soft ground was not a problem. I don’t think Here Comes When will spring a surprise again – he was third in the Listed race at Windsor in July and think that just highlights how fortunate he was at Goodwood.
Aidan O’Brien runs Churchill back at a mile from stall one and, with Lancaster Bomber in stall three and Sir John Lavery in five, they can try to do what they want in the race. I do like Beat The Bank though, and he is definitely a horse going places. He is improving rapidly and should fill the places.
You are either a believer or not in Cracksman and I am with him in the Qipco Champion Stakes. The way he won that Great Voltigeur Stakes at York was very impressive and to me he looks Group One class. Obviously he has got to prove it, and it will be a tough race with the likes of Barney Roy in there. I think it is fair to say Barney Roy proved he gets 10 furlongs when he was just beaten by Ulysses in the Eclipse at Sandown and I think he is up to taking on soft ground.
A lot of people seem to like Brametot, but I think Arc day showed that French form just is not that good this year. Brametot may have won two Classics there, but they don’t look as strong as ours this year.
In the Balmoral Handicap I am on Henry Candy’s Greenside, who was disappointing when midfield in the Cambridgeshire. He would have a chance if he could reproduce his Sandown win in June but this is the most valuable mile handicap in Europe and therefore ultra-competitive. One I do like is Roger Varian’s Zabeel Prince. Silvestre De Sousa really liked him after they won at York eight days ago and Roger does not generally turn horses around quickly.
Off to Qatar again after a record season:
This is my last column of the Flat season, which has been a landmark one for me. Mr Candy’s Noble Peace at Goodwood gave me my 60th winner in Britain this campaign, which is a record for me and we did it in good style too. The horse appreciated the step up in trip and soft ground.
The highlight of my season was undoubtedly Limato’s return to the winner’s enclosure at Newmarket. Aside from that Group Two being the highest quality race I’ve won this season it just meant so much. After all we have been through it was great for him to show everybody that he’s still got it.
This winter I will be off to ride in Qatar again to try to win my fifth jockeys title there. Thanks for reading and hopefully see you next season.