6f Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3yo+)
With the retirement of Group 1 winner Starman and the absence of fellow Group 1 winners Suesa, Oxted and Dream Of Dreams, this year’s running of the Champions Sprint looks wide-open without a stand-out sprinter in the field.
Currently, Ascot specialists Rohaan, Creative Force and Art Power, as well as perennial Group 1 ‘crossbar-hitter’ Dragon Symbol are all trading within 1pt of each other in the betting. That probably tells you all you need to know about how this race is shaping up.
Rohaan probably makes the most appeal out of the market principals with the way he finished off his race last time out. But his price is short and this is a race that has thrown up a few surprises in recent years so I am looking for big price runners with not a single Group 1 winner in the field.
At large odds, I can see GUSTAVUS WESTON running a monster race for Gary Carrol and Joe Murphy. His sire, Equiano, won two runnings of the King Stand Stakes here at Ascot and with the ground on the slower side of Good and his liking for a stiff 6f – as proven by his personal best runs at The Curragh – I can see him getting conditions that will suit on his first attempt at the track.
Gustavus Weston is officially the highest-rated horse in the race off a mark of 115, but he is currently 16/1. His last run in the Derrinstown Flying Five was over an unsuitablly short 5f trip and his previous two starts over 6f were two career bests including comfortably beating Prix De L’Abbaye winner A Case Of You when giving him 5lbs.
The Irish sprinters have proven that they are just as good any around this season and they could reclaim this prize for the first time since Gordon Lord Byron won in 2014.
With Gustavus Weston drawn 16, I’ll take a big price on the other side of the track in the shape of HAPPY ROMANCE drawn six. The three-year-old daughter of Dandy Man looks to be on the upgrade having bombed out on heavy ground in the Commonwealth Cup back in June.
Drying ground is the key to her and Happy Romance put in two excellent performances on quick ground first claiming success in the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes in July before putting in a career best to finish a length fourth in the Haydock Group 1 Sprint Cup finishing better than anything in the race including favourite Starman, Art Power (5th) and Creative Force (6th).
Happy Romance seems to be peaking at the right time for this and she is won that may not be fully exposed off an offical mark of 111. Her two previous runs at the track can both be excused and her strong finishing style should suit with the way the race could be run.
1pt win Happy Romance @16/1, 14:00 Ascot, Saturday
1pt win Gustavus Weston @16/1, 14:00 Ascot, Saturday