Dettori eager for horses to be the headline act on Champions Day

Frankie Dettori is keen for the equine stars to be the focus of attention on Qipco Champions Day, despite the fact the Ascot extravaganza will also be his swansong on European soil.

The entries for the five main races on the October 21 card were published on Tuesday, with the brilliant Paddington headlining a stellar cast

Having secured his fourth Group One victory of the season in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last week, Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old has been entered for the both the £1.3million Qipco Champion Stakes and the £1.1million Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

The three remaining Pattern races – the Long Distance Cup, the British Champions Sprint and the Fillies & Mares Stakes – each offer a total prize fund of £500,000, meaning prize money for Champions Day totals £4.1million, cementing its position as the richest raceday in the British calendar.

Entries also include the unbeaten Prix du Jockey Club winner Ace Impact and the last two Betfred Derby winners in Auguste Rodin and Desert Crown, as well as other Group One stars in the shape of the impressive Prince of Wales’s winner Mostahdaf and star sprinter Shaquille, winner of both the Commonwealth Cup and the July Cup this season.

But for all the brilliant action set to take place on the track, for many the star attraction will be Dettori, who is set to make his final appearance in Britain and Europe before retiring from the saddle later in the year.

He said: “Qipco British Champions Day is a great concept with great prize money. Racing for the kind of money which the rest of the world is doing more regularly.

“It was very hard to pick my last day riding in England. I had thought about Newmarket the week before but Ascot is my favourite track with so many great memories. It is going to be a special day and my family is going to be there.

“I don’t want to take the gloss off the day. The day is about the best day’s racing and not about my last day riding here before I go to America for the Breeders’ Cup and then Australia and Hong Kong before retiring at the end of the year.”

Reflecting on some of his Champions Day highlights, the 52-year-old added: “It was very good last year with Emily Upjohn coming back to win (the Fillies & Mares) after a long layoff and then Kinross, my favourite horse, winning first the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp and then 13 days later the British Champions Sprint.

“Another highlight was Cracksman, who gave me a first win after years of trying in the Champion Stakes in 2017 and won it again the next year.”

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