Saturday sees the 10th anniversary of Champions Day at the Berkshire course and after the last meeting there was scrubbed because of a waterlogged track Clerk of the course, Chris Stickels will be hoping for no further rain this week.

After the unavoidable cancellation of the last racing fixture at this magnificent venue a relatively dry week ahead in the long range forecast should see racing going ahead with use of the hurdles track a reserve option should conditions deteriorate again.

A top class meeting is lined up with the five Pattern races including four Group 1’s and a host of household names making the trip to the home of Royal Ascot for this end of season showpiece.

Stradivarius returns from an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to take the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp to a more realistic challenge in the Long Distance Cup over 2 miles and is a hot favourite to regain the title he took in 2018 before losing out to Aidan O’Brien’s Kew Gardens by the shortest of margins last year.

Dermot Weld’s Search For A Song looks the main threat after scoring in the Irish St Leger last time out and can take advantage of Stradivarius’ short turnaround time after a hard race in France. Roger Varian’s Fujaira Prince, second in the Irish St Leger can pick up the pieces should either of the principals fail to fire on all cylinders and has himself been a model of consistency this term.

The Group 1 Sprint Stakes can go to William Haggas’ winner of the Prix de la Foret at ParisLongchamp, One Master where she collared the now retired Earthlight on the line to take the race for the third time running, showing that all the ability remained.

The 3lb mares’ allowance should give One master an edge over ante post favourite, Dream Of Dreams who arrives at Ascot on Saturday in search of a hat-trick after wins at Newbury and Haydock this term. Only beating one rival in this race last year on heavy ground, Dream Of Dreams will be better suited the dryer the ground gets over the remainder of the week.

Roger Teal’s Oxted has live claims as does Archie Watson’s Glen Shiel who continues to impress and they can take the place money ahead of One Master who should have the conditions to suit in addition to the weight allowance.

Aidan O’Brien’s Magical holds entries for both the Fillies & Mares Stakes and the Champion Stakes but surely has been aimed at the latter of the two, missing out on a trip to France to take on Enable for one last time in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to concentrate on the Champions Stakes she took here last year.

Taking her place in the Champions Stakes would see Aidan O’Brien’s stable star line up against John Gosden’s exciting Mishriff, winner of his last three including the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly and the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano Stakes at Deauville. A confirmed mud lover, Mishriff poses the biggest threat to Magical especially should more rain fall on the Berkshire track.

This year’s renewal looks a hot one with the up and coming French trainer, Jerome Reynier bringing his winner of the Prix Dollar, Skalleti over for a stab at Group 1 glory. With possibly still more to come Skalleti should not be underestimated having beaten the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victor, Sottsass at Deauville back in August on heavy ground.

In a race likely to dominated by the heavy ground specialists, William Haggas’ Addeybb comes into the equation. Scoring twice in Group 1 company over in Australia earlier in the year, he returns to take his place alongside John Gosden’s Lord North who beat him into second in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting here in June.

In a fascinating race, Magical has to be the one to follow should the ground stay dry but in the event of further rain, Addeybb and Mishriff have sway in the slower going.

The Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on the straight course looks a nailed on win for John Gosden’s unbeaten Palace Pier, the Kingman colt that started his season at Sandown on good to firm before confirming his promise on softer going when taking the Group 1 Jaques le Marois at Deauville in August.

Palace Pier’s main danger should be Francis-Henri Graffard’s The Revenant, a respected mud lover who makes the trip over from France after cruising up to the front to take the Prix Daniel Wildenstein on his seasonal reappearance at ParisLongchamp.

The tough and reliable Circus Maximus looks the best of the rest in not the strongest affair while the closing Balmoral Handicap can go to Charlie Fellowes King Ottokar who will be as happy as a hippopotamus in the mud at the end of a busy day’s racing.

This preview has been brought to you by our regular correspondent, Hector Steiff



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