The entries for Champions Day at Ascot on October 20 were revealed on Wednesday and Harry Allwood picks out three ante-post selections.
Bateel - Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares at 5-1 with William Hill:
Last year's Fillies & Mares runner-up Bateel looks to have a strong chance of going one better in October.
She was successful on her seasonal debut in May, her only start this campaign, and is set to run in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville on August 19.
“Bateel will definitely be aimed at the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares once again as it’s a race that really suits her,” the six-year-old’s trainer Francis Graffard said after the entries were revealed on Wednesday.
“She ran a fantastic race last year to be second, so we’ll enter her again and it’s definitely a big part of her autumn programme.”
Her form since joining the French trainer reads 211121 and she improved considerably under his handling last season.
Bateel is likely to meet last year’s winner Hydrangea again at Ascot, but Aidan O’Brien’s filly has not been in the same form this season, and it would require a leap of faith to back her to record consecutive wins.
Other high-class fillies entered, including Enable and Sea Of Class, are possible runners and will of course be a threat should they turn up but have other targets also.
Bateel, however, is the safest punting option at this stage and I believe she will go off shorter than the 5-1 available with William Hill on the day, especially if the ground is soft which suits her best.
Things have not gone to plan for Tasleet so far this season, but he looks overpriced at a general 16-1 for the Champion Sprint Stakes.
The five-year-old, who holds an entry in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on September 8, needed the run when third on his belated return to action in a Group Two at the Curragh won by Merchant Navy.
He ran two career bests at Ascot last season, including when second behind Librisa Breeze in this race, and this 6f contest is likely to have been the plan for some time.
Harry Angel heads the betting but has been defeated four times at the Berkshire track, including in this race last year.
Blue Point, Battaash and The Tin Man are also among the entries, but 16-1 looks big for Tasleet who will not have had a hard season.
Roaring Lion - Qipco British Champion Stakes at a generally available 6-1:
Roaring Lion, who produced a career best to win the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July, has the option of this race and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile.
David Redvers, racing and bloodstock manager to owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani’s Qatar Racing, said after the entries were revealed: “Roaring Lion will have both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the QIPCO Champion Stakes as options.
“He’ll be running in the Juddmonte International at York next, and then we will have to discuss his autumn campaign.”
I believe connections will side for this 1m2f contest, despite his stablemate Cracksman being in the reckoning, as the drop back to a mile in the Queen Elizabeth would be uncertain to suit.
Roaring Lion looks tailor-made for the feature race on Champions Day and he has progressed nicely this season. A stiff finish at Ascot will also be in his favour.
This is likely to be a hot race with Poet’s Word and Saxon Warrior also entered, but I think there is more to come from Roaring Lion and he is my bet at this stage.