Champion Stakes Preview: There Can Be Only One

Guest post written by Willy Weasel

The Qipco Champion Stakes was originally run at Newmarket, but since 2011 it has become part of the Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot, where it’s the final race in the middle distance category of the Qipco British Champion Series. This year’s renewal is due off at 4.10 p.m. on Saturday 20th October.

It’s not often a race worth £1,300,000 in guaranteed prize money revolves around the participation of just one horse, but that’s the case with the Qipco Champion Stakes this year. The horse in question is, of course, Sir Henry Cecil’s 4-year-old colt Frankel, who has won all 13 of his career starts, including the JLT Lockinge Stakes, the Qipco Queen Anne Stakes, the Qipco Sussex Stakes and the Juddmonte International Stakes this season alone.

At the end of his 3-year-old career, Frankel had a Timeform rating of 143, a mark only ever surpassed by three horses, Sea Bird II, Brigadier Gerard and Tudor Minstrel. Following his 11-length demolition of Excelebration and nine others in the Qipco Queen Anne Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot this year, Frankel had a rating of 147, higher than any other horse in the history of Timeform ratings, which stretches back to 1948. He was equally impressive when cruising to victory in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, over a mile, and the Juddmonte International Stakes at York, over a mile and a quarter, in August. Barring accidents, he looks unbeatable. At the time of writing he is best priced at 1/10, or shorter, so the bookmakers aren’t taking any chances.

When entries closed for the Qipco Champion Stakes on 7th August, 46 horses stood their ground, but it’ll be interesting to see just how many of them Frankel frightens away by the day of the race. Prize money goes down to £17,550 for sixth place, so connections of some of the higher rated entries may decide to a have a tilt.

Excelebration, his current trainer Aidan O’Brien and his previous trainer Marco Botti must all be sick of the sight of Frankel. In the absence of Frankel, Excelebration has won all seven of his races since June 2010, but he has also come up against, and been beaten by, Frankel five times during that time, by an aggregate of 26¼ lengths. He had a welcome change of luck when winning the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August, but is running for second place, at best, here. That said, he is one of the higher rated entries here and he appears to act on any ground so, at odds of 14/1, he could be one for place only or forecast punters.

Cirrus Des Aigles, trained by Mme. Corine Barande-Barbe, is officially the best horse in France, according to Timeform, but is still rated fully 14lbs inferior to Frankel. He’s won three Group 1 races, this race last year, the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March and the Prix Ganay, on heavy ground, at Longchamp in April. He’s been absent since May, but his trainer intends to run him in the Prix Dollar at Longchamp on 6th October en route to the Qipco Champion Stakes. Whatever the outcome of that race, he looks to have little chance of beating Frankel and, consequently, his current odds of 8/1 look too short.

Of the others, Nathaniel and St. Nicholas Abbey are also declared for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on 7th October, so it’ll be interesting to see where their connections decide to run them. Frankel was value for more than the official winning margin in the Juddmonte International, but even if the form is taken at face value St. Nicholas Abbey has 7 lengths to find with Sir Henry’s Cecil colt. A line through Farhh, who finished second at York, suggests that Nathaniel is about the same horse as St. Nicholas Abbey, yet Nathaniel is available at odds of 7/1, while St. Nicholas Abbey can be backed at 33/1. Indeed, St. Nicholas Abbey only has three-quarters of a length to find with Nathaniel on their running behind Snow Fairy in the Irish Champion Stakes, so he could be another one for place only or forecast bets.

Realistically, if Frankel runs to form none of the others should get anywhere near him. Indeed, at the time of writing Paddy Power is offering just 6/4 that Frankel wins by 8 lengths or more. The best advice is just to sit back and watch one of the best, if not the best, thoroughbred racehorses the world has even seen. You’re not going to get rich backing 1/10 chances, but, if you must have a bet, you could do worse than back Excelebration or St. Nicholas Abbey, or both, for a place and/or put one or the other, or both, in straight forecasts with Frankel.

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  1. A very interesting point and one very hard not to agree with in my opinion.
    As it is near to the end of the season, I would like to share some information which I got in the post this morning.

    One of your followers on facebook or is it twitter or both, advised me to purchase a book which I did and I have found very interesting reading for all Jumps followers.

    I am not a promoter of any one’s but I believe that sharing is a good thing within a community.

    so have a look at you may wish to buy the book of the same name.

    I will be having a few quid each way on Excal and Nick Abbey further thought to the forecast.

  2. As a baby boy I saw the end of the second world war, later Ian Botham destroy the Aussies, a man walking on the moon, England winning the World Cup, Cloughy winning two European Cups with two different English Clubs, Arsenals silky skills& undefeated in the Premier League all season, In the winning encl-osier weeping tears of joy with the trophy in my hand when Monty’s Pass won the Grand National in 2003,,and the magic of Arkle and Red Rum in full flow. Europe defending the Ryder Cup from so far behind, and now I look forward to the grace and power of shear perfection in a race horse and admire once again Frankel, will he win, of course he will and we can all win with him and keep the memory for ever.

  3. I believe that as a two year old Nathaniel was only beaten a short head by Frankel so if there is a chink in his armour Nathaniel may be worth a bet. Perhaps Nathaniel’ trainer has this race in mind and his recent disappointments should not be given too much weight.

  4. I fell off my chair when the Australian punters claimed Black Caviar would beat Frankel. Looool have they seen what this animal can do?! Danedream or SnowFairy not running then in the Champs Stakes I would have said one of them or Nathaniel for 2nd place.

  5. Lets just sit back and enjoy seeing Frankel once again.I’m now 69 and he is without doubt the
    best I’ve seen but lets not forget Sir Henry has been instrumental in making him the racehorse
    he is.

  6. I believe that Frankel will have his hardest race yet, The way cirrus des aigles won his comeback race at Longchamp recently after a 5 month absence was brilliant. I am not saying that he will beat Frankel but he will give him his sternest test yet.. The race of the century? Remember Grundy and Bustino.

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