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British Champions Day a roaring success

With a stacked card that included five group races and a handicap, British Champions Day is a horse racing event avid and casual fans of the sport circle on the calendar every year. While each Champions Day is special in its own right, 2022’s meet had an added level of significance as it marked the final race of one of the UK & Ireland’s greatest racehorses, Baaeed.

With so much drama unfolding throughout the day, read on as we dissect each fixture that took place at the famed Ascot Racecourse. It was a particularly good day for those who are fond of long shots when placing a bet on horses, with a number of outsiders coming away with the chocolates across the day’s fixtures.

Champion Stakes

In what was being billed as Baaeed’s race to lose, this year’s Champion Stakes was one of the most important races in the sport’s storied history in this country. It was the last race of Baaeed’s career before he retired to Shadwell Stud, and given the manner in which he had won his 10 previous outings, there wasn’t any reason to suggest the undefeated horse would fail in his attempt at ending his illustrious career unblemished and on a high.

However, that would end up being the case, with the four-year-old finishing a disappointing fourth. After settling into sixth for the majority of the race, the William Haggas-trained colt and his jockey Jim Crowley made their push with three furlongs remaining. After finding a fruitful path to launch their attack – Baaeed didn’t have the gas in the tank over the last furlong to compete with eventual winner and 33/1 outsider Bay Bridge. Adayar and My Prospero rounded out the placings, taking out second and third respectively.

Long Distance Cup

When Aidan O’Brien opted to enter staying king Kyprios into the Prix du Cadran at ParisLongchamp instead of Ascot’s Long Distance Cup, it meant that this year’s 2m affair was wide open. The ever-reliable Trueshan reigned supreme, streaking home to beat Coltrane by a head in thrilling fashion. It caps off a phenomenal 2022 for the six-year-old, who secured three wins and two placings in five outings.

It was a particularly impressive win for jockey Hollie Doyle, whose ride in their previous race together at Doncaster was met with heavy criticism. Her ride atop Trueshan at Ascot was exceptional however, timing her run perfectly to get every ounce out of her thoroughbred’s speed, power and stamina down the stretch.

Fillies & Mares Stakes

After a less than stellar display last time out which saw her finish last in the King George VI and Queensland Elizabeth Stakes, there was pressure on John and Thady Gosden to get a better performance out of their three-year-old Emily Upjohn at Ascot this time around. The filly delivered and then some, romping home to win by three lengths from the second-placed Thunder Kiss. 

It was yet another beautiful ride from Frankie Dettori, who knew exactly how his filly was travelling in the closing stages and chose the perfect moment to streak clear of the remainder of the field. It was Dettori’s second triumph on the day, after the Italian reigned supreme in the Champions Sprint Stakes atop Kinross.

Champions Sprint Stakes

In what was another dominant performance, Dettori and Kinross blitzed the field to win the six-furlong affair by more than two lengths from Run to Freedom and pre-race favourite Creative Force. Entering the fixture as the third favourite at 7/1, the Ralph Beckett-trained five-year-old is now on a four-race winning streak that include victories at York, Doncaster, ParisLongchamp and Ascot.

Given his form and the convincing manner in which he has been winning of late – Kinross is one to keep an eye on in 2023.

Queen Elizabeth Stakes

In what proved to be a great day for horses at odds of 33/1, Bayside Boy was all class when upsetting the applecart in the Elizabeth II Stakes. Beginning the race towards the rear, jockey Tom Marquand and Bayside Boy finished strong to best the field by one-and-a-quarter lengths. While the Roger Varian-trained horse won his last time out at Sandown, the three-year-old has had an inconsistent 2022 that includes a seventh and thirteenth placed finish at Ascot and Longchamp respectively.

However, with such an impressive win at Champions Day, it could be the turning over of a new leaf for the Ballylinch Stud sire.

Balmoral Handicap

Another outsider upset the applecart in the one-mile Class 2 Balmoral Handicap. After a steadied start and holding up nicely in the rear, 80/1 shot Shelir ran on well a furlong out and finished strongly past the post to win it by a length-and-a-half from William Haggas’ Sweet Believer and Richard Hannon’s Tacarib Bay.