Champions Day, Really?

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John Cooper is back but he is not at all happy with Saturday’s so-called Champions Day at Ascot…

Saturday is supposed to be the climax of the UK flat season, the Champions Day at Ascot, but in mid-October, the odds on the going being anything other than terrible are long odds on. Guess what! Once again the going is heavy!

The going on Wednesday evening had been Soft, Heavy in places, but overnight rain led to a deterioration of conditions by the time the track was assessed on Thursday morning. A statement issued by the track read:

“Thursday expected to be dry until late afternoon when showers are due again overnight to Friday. Friday is forecast to be drier and sunny, showers due again overnight to Saturday and are possible on Saturday.”

Ascot claim there is no threat to the meeting being called off! But betting on heavy ground is precarious at the best of times. But what do they expect, mid-October!

The prospect of testing conditions at Ascot on Saturday has failed to prevent most of the expected big names from lining up. The so called Champions Day is short of a key ingredient! Champions!

Cirrus Des Aigles is by far the best horse running at Ascot, in the best race, The Champion Stakes, but the strength in depth in this field is just not there! The whole card is just a bit light on Champion quality!

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a good card on Saturday, but the idea is that it is meant to be one of the World’s Premier race days. It is no where near that! Its a bit anti-climactic in my view!

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Cirrus Des Aigles the star turn at Ascot

For a start, the ground 8 years out of 10 is going to be on the very wet side, that is just a fact of the UK climate. It does not take a genius to work that out that does it!

Whoever came up with this concept is clever, but whoever decided to stage it in mid-October is an idiot! It has ruined the event! Honestly it beggars belief!

We have weeks of decent ground and dross racing, Saturday after Saturday, then at the end of the season, when the weather is getting cold and wet and the going heavy we have UK Racing’s showcase event! If it was a few weeks earlier the card would be so much better.TThe ground was good just a couple of weeks ago!

Royal Ascot is in June, then four months later it is Champions Day. Flat racing should be staged in the sun, Ascot on Saturday will see coats and scarves the order of the day! It will be dark shortly after the last race!

From a punting point of view there is not just the ground to worry about. When I was learning my trade I was told by the old school pro’s, when it gets wet don’t bet on the flat! Even soft ground horses are not certain to go on heavy, it makes it a lottery!

At the end of a long season some horses are jaded, some over the top! Even the best trainers can’t be sure that their charges will be 100%. Surely to God common sense is that this is staged earlier in the season. A great idea, just run at the wrong time. The card on Saturday in my view is disappointing, it could be one of the world’s great race days, the UK climate is always going to quite literally put a dampener on Champions Day, or as I now call it, Where’s The Champions Day!!

 

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