This weekend we welcome perhaps one of the greatest, if not the greatest race day for flat racing all season. The Qipco British Champion Series has grown year on year and it now boasts a massive 4 group 1’s, 1 group 2 and a highly competitive Balmoral Handicap all taking place on the same day at Ascot. One race that perfectly highlights the quality and competitive nature on offer is the British Champion Sprint Stakes.
Won last year by the ever impressive Muhaarar, this race has attracted some stellar entries including the York heroine Mecca’s Angel, handicap king Librisa Breeze who takes an interesting drop back in trip, last year’s 2nd Twilight Son and Haydock Sprint Cup winner Quiet Reflection. Other entries to note are recent Ayr Gold Cup winner Brando and the impressive 3 year old Shalaa. With so many notable runners set to start it is only right that we take a more in depth look at some of the leading contenders.
Mecca’s Angel has to be given a mention on the back of her Nunthorpe win however she’s been a weird one for me this year. Away from her beloved York she hasn’t looked at all the force of last year and the fact she has an extra furlong to race here is a huge negative for me. I am actually quite surprised to see her entered and I’d be even more surprised to see her play a part in the finish.
Librisa Breeze is an interesting runner. He has been running over 7f’s recently and he ran out an impressive winner over that trip at this course last time out. For me there are sour grapes here because we had him at a huge 25-1 at Royal Ascot running off a mark of 97. He couldn’t get the job done however hoses up off a mark of 108 which does raise a few question marks. Nevertheless this step back in trip looks a good move considering how well this horse travels through his races and if the ground were to go slightly softer I’d be very interested if the price was right.
Quiet Reflection has been quite superb this year however despite her trainer’s comments I do think she is more at home on a very soft surface alike to that we saw at Haydock last time out. Again we are on weather watch; the problem is she is a short price and far too short in my opinion given how competitive the race is.
Twilight Son has a bit to do with the main protagonists here however he does like Ascot so can’t be ruled out. Brando seems to be on an upward curve and would be a danger to all if getting a good tow into the race. Fanshawe’s The Tin Man has some good course form to his name and doesn’t have much to find with Quiet Reflection on their Haydock running.Shalaa brings an unexposed profile to the race and with his trainer openly admitting that he was only 80% on his reappearance win he could have any manner of improvement left to give. I have always liked the horse and Gosden seemed pretty confident earlier in the week.
For me two horses deserve a play. Firstly I like Librisa Breeze providing the price is right. I like a horse that has been entered with a plan, a plot if you like and that is surely what we have here. A patient stalking ride is what I expect to see and the hope has to be that they go off to quick with the likes of Shalaa in the field. That brings me nicely to my 2nd horse and that is Shalaa who I believe will improve substantially for his reappearance run and may have a fair few of these struggling a furlong out.
Librisa Breeze – (0.5pts E/W) 10-1 is available at Coral.
Shalaa – (0.5pts E/W) 11-2 is available at Coral.