FRANKEL (3.35) is the star attraction on Ascot’s rippling six-pack Qipco Champions Day extravaganza and it would take a brave man to oppose Sir Henry Cecil’s showstopper in the QE II Stakes (and I’m not that man). As always, Frankel will be long odds-on and the supporting bill serves up a veritable feast of more tempting wagers, most notably SO YOU THINK (4.10) in the 1m 2f Champions Stakes. The Aussie wonder horse, now stationed at Ballydoyle, has plundered more than £4million in prizemoney on two continents and the booking of new stable jockey-in-waiting Ryan Moore serves promise of a further bountiful harvest. The former champion rider was on top when So You Think scooped the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh and his mount will surely be ridden more prominently having been set an impossible task in the Arc when running on all too late into fourth place.
Johnny Murtagh is another top jockey reacquainted with an earlier big-race winner, in this case his Epsom Oaks heroine DANCING RAIN (3.00). The Irishman gave William Haggas’s filly an inspired ride on the Downs but Kieren Fallon deputised in Germany when Dancing Rain bagged the Teutonic equivalent in August. She will make them all go.
TIMES UP (1.50) has to produce a career-best on the figures but the anticipated fast ground is right up his alley. John Dunlop has been making bullish noises this week and Times Up was always travelling like a winner at Newmarket when belatedly stepped up to two miles last time.
Champion jockey Paul Hanagan is operating closer to home and TRIP THE LIGHT (4.40) is worth noting in Catterick’s claimer after his recent plucky win at York. On three three previous career runs at Catterick, Trip The Light has won twice and been denied a short head on the other occasion. Just Lille comes out top on ratings but she finished 25 lengths behind my selection when they met here last April.
The concluding apprentices’ event is very moderate fare and MASLAK (5.50) can seize the opportunity with both hands. The old boy showed plenty of dash when fifth to Miss Ferney over course and distance last time in what was a stronger contest. Tom Garner, who claims 5lb, has ridden a couple of winners in the National Hunt sphere and is able to do this weight.