Stars set to align for Champions Day

Horizon Dore, Mostahdaf, King Of Steel and last year’s winner Bay Bridge are among 11 horses confirmed for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Cirrus Des Aigles (2011), Almanzor (2016) and Sealiway (2021) are among the recent French-trained winners of the Champions Day highlight – and having extended his winning streak to four in the Prix Dollar, Patrice Cottier’s Horizon Dore bids to add his name to the roll of honour.

The home team is led by John and Thady Gosden’s Mostahdaf, the Roger Varian-trained King Of Steel and Sir Michael Stoute’s defending champion Bay Bridge.

Mostahdaf demonstrated his top-level capabilities by winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Juddmonte International at York during the summer, but connections will be concerned about the prospect of significant rain later in the week for a horse who prefers fast ground.

King Of Steel, last seen finishing a close-up fourth in the Irish Champion Stakes, is set to be partnered by Frankie Dettori for what could be his final ride in Britain before retirement, while Bay Bridge will step back in distance after finishing sixth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The Gosden team have also confirmed Nashwa, while William Haggas has left in both last year’s third My Prospero and the globetrotting Dubai Honour.

Via Sistina (George Boughey), Royal Rhyme (Karl Burke) and Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Point Lonsdale and Paddington are the other acceptors, although the latter is widely expected to line up in the preceding Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile.

Paddington has been one of the stars of the season for Ballydoyle, winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the St James’s Palace Stakes, the Coral-Eclipse and the Sussex Stakes before meeting with defeat for the first time this year when third behind Mostahdaf on the Knavesmire in August.

Among 13 possible rivals this weekend are Dermot Weld’s Irish Guineas, Coronation Stakes and Matron Stakes heroine Tahiyra, Nashwa, her stablemate Inspiral, 2000 Guineas winner Chaldean and the supplemented Angel Bleu.

The afternoon gets under way with the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup, which is set to stage a mouthwatering clash between Trueshan and Kyprios.

Alan King’s Trueshan has bounced back from an underwhelming start to his campaign by winning the Doncaster Cup and the Prix du Cadran in the autumn and he now gets the opportunity to land this Group Two prize for the fourth year in succession.

Kyprios won the Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup and the Irish St Leger in 2022 before registering a remarkable 20-length verdict in the Cadran. He was beaten on his return from nearly a year on the sidelines in the Irish Leger last month, but can be expected to take a significant step forward.

Coltrane is also among 10 hopefuls, but Gold Cup hero Courage Mon Ami is a notable absentee.

Kinross (Ralph Beckett) and Shaquille (Julie Camacho) are two of 18 speedsters to stand their ground for the Qipco British Champions Sprint.

There are also 18 horses in contention for the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes including Free Wind (Gosdens), Time Lock (Harry and Roger Charlton), Sea Silk Road (Haggas) and the doubly engaged Via Sistina. Henry de Bromhead has supplemented Group Three winner Term Of Endearment.

The Balmoral Handicap is the concluding race and Lincoln winner Migration, trained by David Menuisier, is at the head of the weights after 32 horses were confirmed.

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