What are the best bets in the Champions Stakes at Ascot on Saturday?
The 1m2f Qipco Champions Stakes at Ascot on Saturday (due off 3.05pm) comes under the scrutiny of our resident tipster.
John Gosden has few peers when it comes to targetting Group 1s and it’s clear he has had this race in mind for Jack Hobbs for a good while, ducking the opportunity to run him in the Arc to wait for this. That was so the right decision as his stablemate Golden Horn proved unstoppable in the Longchamp showpiece and this race offers Jack Hobbs a perfect opportunity to crown what has been a highly successful season. His only defeats (albeit highly respectable seconds) have come in the Dante Stakes and English Derby, seeing the backside of Golden Horn on each occasion, and he had no problem justifying odds-on favouritism in the Irish Derby, before an easy prep win on the all-weather.
Any negatives, you may ask? He’s dropping back to ten furlongs and for a horse that stays 1m4f well that may not be ideal, though he did win over this trip at Sandown in April and connections are running a pacemaker to ensure an even gallop. More of a concern is his draw in stall 14, which even his trainer admitted was “disappointing” as well as saying (with tongue in cheek) that he was unlikely to get boxed in with Maverick Wave (the pacemaker) drawn next door in 13.
Who else is fancied?
As expected Aidan O’Brien has declared Found for this rather than the Fillies & Mares race and that is perhaps a tip in itself. She is undoubtedly a high-class filly and you can forget her run in the Arc (ninth) as she was virtually knocked over in the home straight and was allowed to come home in her own time. Dropping back to this trip is in her favour and she did get to within a length of Golden Horn when second in the Irish Champion Stakes two starts back, with a strict interpretation of that form giving her the beating of Jack Hobbs. She’s fared better with the draw too having been handed stall eight.
When Andre Fabre says he expects one of his charges to go close you have to sit up and take note. The legendary French trainer said as much about Vadamos earlier this week and the market has reacted, with double-figure odds evaporating to a best-priced 6/1. The four-year-old colt has won both his starts since joining his current stable, including a German Group 2 in over a mile by five lengths last time, and was then scratched from the Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois after spiking a temperature on the morning of the race. Judging by his trainer’s comments, he’s now back to full health and the step back up to 1m2f is unlikely to inconvenience him as he won over two furlongs further at three. He will exit from stall five.
Any decent outsiders?
If one or more of the front three disappoint there are plenty queueing up to fill the places and the best of these may be Godolphin’s Racing History, who is unbeaten in three runs this season and has always been considered a potential top-notcher. James Fanshawe’s Ribbons won a weak-looking Group 1 in France last time and she could be found out against the boys here.
Give us the winner then?
At the start of this week I was leaning towards taking on Jack Hobbs over this trip and my mind was made up by the draw. His high berth is not insurmountable by any means, but the turn does come quickly at Ascot over this trip and he may be forced wider than ideal. Besides he may be best over further (?) and, given his short odds (no bigger than 5/4), I’d much rather back French raider VADAMOS (6/1 Betfair), though I appreciate his price has gone to some extent. But with Found also having perfectly sound claims, the best policy may be to just lay the favourite.