Richard Fahey: Stuff of champions
Star columnist Richard Fahey sends a big team to Ascot for British Champions Day – get the lowdown on his Saturday runners.
Ribchester heads to Ascot with confidence high
I'm really looking forward to running Ribchester in the QIPCO Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
This has been the plan since he won the Jacques Le Marois at Deauville and everything has gone according to plan since. He's had a great preparation and we're very happy with him.
It's a little strange that we're drawn away from the other fancied runners, I'd have been preferred to be closer to them, but it can't be helped. We have the help of a pacemaker in Barchan which means whatever happens we'll have something to chase and allow Ribchester to drop his head.
I just have a feeling the faster ground is going to be middle to far side anyway. We'll see what happens in the earlier races but at this time of year I'd want to be over where we are. The stands at Ascot can cast a big shadow over the track and I've always felt the going stands' side can be a little softer than elsewhere.
It's a wonderful race and great to be part of. I've said our fellow is the one they all have to beat but I'm very sweet on Minding, a filly I've admired all year, and on a really good day Galileo Gold would have a chance too.
It's a fantastic contest and Ribchester heads to it in wonderful form.
Suegioo is our first Ascot runner in the QIPCO Long Distance Cup. To be fair I'd be delighted if he was placed and on one or two pieces of form he'd have a chance of doing so. He's in good form, we've freshened him up and he'll like the ground.
We run four in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint.
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Growl has a bit to find with some of these. I thought he ran a blinder in the Ayr Gold Cup but this is a completely different test. We've stuck cheekpieces on him here to try and help out.
Donjuan Triumphant will like the ground, the more rain the better for him. I just felt he boiled over at Haydock last time and didn't give his true running. He's worked well since and while he'll need a lifetime best to win it, I hope he bounces back.
Don't Touch wears a visor for the first time. He's a very laidback horse at home and shapes as though he either needs to step up in trip or requires headgear to sharpen him up. I hope the visor does the trick but he too needs a lifetime best.
Mr Lupton finished fifth in the Haydock Sprint Cup and Jamie Spencer feels six furlongs at Ascot will suit him perfectly. I'm not sure he meant for me to come here with him but the horse is fit and well. Again I'd be over the moon if he was placed.
Gabrial has had a great year but faces a tall order in the QIPCO Champion Stakes. It would be wonderful if he could hit the frame but there are three or four very, very good horses in here and we'll see how he gets on.
Third Time Lucky runs in the closing Balmoral Handicap. I thought he ran a cracker in the Cambridgeshire last time, particularly on ground that would be quick enough for him. He needs to find a bit more here but showed he can be competitive at Newmarket and has come out of that race well. I hope he goes close for the lads who own him. I touched on the draw earlier and would have preferred to be lower than 21 but there's nothing we can do about that.
The rest of our Saturday runners are all at Catterick.
I'd love to see Vaulted win her first race in the toteplacepot Median Auction Maiden Stakes. It's always nice to get their head in front at two before putting them away for the winter. She's a nice filly and we've tried to find the weakest race we can to allow her to win and opted for this one.
Starlight Romance has been knocking on the door and running well. I'd like to see her win the totescoop6 The Millionaire Maker Maiden Fillies' Stakes for owner Norman Steel and she must have a good chance.
English Summer won the totepoolliveinfo.com Claiming Stakes last year but this looks a strong renewal with some highly rated ones in there. It won't be easy but we know he handles the track.
Energia Fox hasn't got the ideal draw in 12 for the toteexacta Handicap which is frustrating as I feel she's now ready to win a race. She'll need luck from there but I do feel she's on the cusp of returning to winning ways so hopefully she'll get it.
We also run Theos Lolly who needs to bounce back after disappointing last time. He will love the ground here which will help.
Our final two runners are in the totetrifecta Handicap. Fullon Clarets has been a fraction disappointing but hasn't had much help from the handicapper along the way. He wouldn't be without a chance though.
Any rain would help Sunnua. We've been waiting for it with her but these soft ground horses have had a frustrating few weeks. She's very fit and very well if the showers arrive.
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