Pull a Sickie, Theresa, It’s British Champions Day!

Champions Day LogoGiven the ridiculous amount of pressure she and her team are under to deliver a Brexit divorce plan that works, you can understand the amount of hours Theresa May is putting in at the office right now.

The European Union aren’t happy, the Irish are kicking off and today the media took the PM to the cleaners after it emerged that the transition period between the UK being an EU member and, well, not, may be extended by another year into 2021.

And so you might agree that the Prime Minister deserves a bit of a holiday (probably not to a European destination, mind), or at the very least some time off. And the good news is that coincides with a cracking day of racing this weekend.

As the curtain will fall on the UK’s participation in the EU in March 2019, so too is the end nigh for the flat racing campaign of 2018, with Saturday’s Champions Day meeting at Ascot a fantastic and fitting climax.

The best in the business will be crowned, including the best stayer, sprinter, filly and mare and, of course, the skills of some of the finest in the game will be tested in the Champion Stakes.

If you, like Theresa, have nothing better to do on Saturday, why not whack the heating on, get cosy on the sofa and enjoy a cracking afternoon of racing at the famous old course.

Here are five horses that you might want to have a flutter on to ramp up the excitement yet further.

15:50 – Champion Stakes: Cracksman – 4/5

Champion Stakes 2018

It came as something of a surprise when trainer John Gosden confirmed that Cracksman would be retiring at the end of the season.

The four-year-old looks to still have plenty of gas in the tank, but these connections that see the horses day in and day out know best, and so it is that offspring of the legendary Frankel will have his final run on Saturday.

He will defend the Champion Stakes title he won in such barnstorming fashion 12 months ago, and in a strangely weak field – stablemate Roaring Lion is in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes instead – Cracksman is a red hot favourite and with good reason.

There’s one caveat: the horse will wear blinkers for the first time in his career, and that can be something of a leveller if he doesn’t take to them.

But in Frankie Dettori he will be in safe hands, and it’s hard to see anything other than a fitting send-off win in the headline race of the day.

15:15 – QE II Stakes: Roaring Lion – 2/1

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes 2018

There has been a lot of rain around for much of the UK this week but particularly Ascot, and that has put paid to Roaring Lion’s chances in the Champion Stakes.

Instead, his connections have held him back for the shorter Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which is run over 8f.

That’s okay, as a shorter mark does suit the Gosden fancy, with two Group 1 wins in the Juddmonte International Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes confirming his pedigree.

There are a couple of talented runners in this renewal, particularly the French horse, Laurens, but you would expect Gosden’s yard to confirm their dominance of the day with a winner here in Roaring Lion.

14:00 – Sprint Stakes: The Tin Man – 11/4

Sprint Stakes 2018

It has been a cracking sprint season, with the likes of Tasleet, Harry Angel, Librisa Breeze and Brando all showing up really well at times.

But the most talismanic figure is The Tin Man, who took the spoils in the Sprint Cup Stakes at Haydock Park last time out in sublime fashion.

He beat a high-quality field that day, and will have to do so again on Saturday with that aforementioned quartet once again in opposition. But on soft ground, The Tin Man will take some stopping.

13:25 – Long Distance Cup: Stradivarius – 4/5

Long Distance Cup 2018

The stayers’ division is not one which generally grabs the attention of punters, but in Stradivarius we have someone we can rely on to come up with the goods.

Just look at his rollcall of honours in big races this term: the Ascot Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup Stakes, the Yorkshire Cup, and the Lonsdale Cup have all been won, and that’s a CV that no other horse in the field can match.

Flag of Honour, arguably the next best, has never run outside of Ireland, and so can’t really be backed with any authority.

Besides, Stradivarius is absolutely mustard!

14:40 – Fillies & Mares Stakes: Coronet – 5/1

Fillies & Mares Stakes 2018

Arguably the most open of the big races on the day is the Fillies & Mares Stakes.

There are lots of good words from knowledgeable types about Lah Ti Dar, the favourite with the bookmakers.

But that, so far, has only manifested itself in a few listed race victories, with her big outing in the St Leger ending in defeat.

So maybe it’s worth taking a look at Coronet, who has performed admirably in high class events this term.

Silver medals in the Yorkshire Oaks and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, plus a bronze in the King George, hints that this is a horse who can compete in elite company.

Is Lah Ti Dar an elite campaigner? We might just find out on Saturday.