Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Ascot, Cheltenham and Kelso. View selections below
Champions’ Day at Ascot but with heavy rain and a number of high-profile defections it lacks the sparkle of Arc Day earlier in the month although it is still a wonderful card with three Group One’s and a fascinating Group 2 over 2 miles which opens the card.
The 2014 Ascot Gold Cup winner Leading Light was no match for Brown Panther (runs Canada Sunday night) in the Irish St Leger last time over 1m 6f last time and this step back up in trip will suit the Aidan O’Brien trained runner who is a worthy favourite. The Ascot executive will be hoping that Her Majesty’s former Gold Cup winner Estimate obliges but she disappointed in this corresponding race last year and preference is for the dark horse Forgotten Rules (1.45).
This is a huge step up in class for the selection (4/1 at BetVictor) but legendary Irish trainer Dermot Weld is not known for calling geese swans and Forgotten Rules is taken to reward each way support in a wonderful pipe-opener.
Guineas’ winner Night Of Thunder heads the market for the QEII but Charm Spirit (3.30) finished fifth at Newmarket back in the spring and is taken to reverse the form with the Hannon runner. The French colt has improved throughout the year and put up a career best last time when beating Toronado in the Prix Moulin at Longchamp. The 10/3 with BetVictor is unlikely to last.
Cirrus Des Aigles (11/8) has run in the last three Champion Stakes finishing 1st (2011) and then runner up in the last couple of years. I think the 8-y-old gelding may have to again take the silver medal with preference for Free Eagle (4.05) who is unproven on soft ground but whose half-brother Sapphire relished such conditions. The selection (3/1 at BetVictor) returned from a 12-month lay-off to thrash the opposition (7L) in a Leopardstown Group 3 last month in a time marginally quicker than The Grey Gatsby who was all out to overhaul Australia in the Irish Champion Stakes later in the day.
At Cheltenham Persian Snow (2.35) was a progressive chaser last season for Philip Hobbs and the forecast rain for Friday night should allow him to get his toe in enough in a hot 2m 4f Handicap Chase. Last year’s winner Johns Spirit is 18lbs higher as he bids for a repeat and the handicapper has certainly given top-weight Champion Court a chance with Tom Scudamore a significant jockey booking.
Golden Chieftain is an interesting contender in the Showcase Trophy and is worth a look in the market to see if there is any confidence behind Colin Tizzard’s gelding who is 16lb better off with Duke Of Lucca for the 13L he was behind the Hobbs runner at Aintree back in the spring. Preference though is for Le Bec (3.45) despite the impost of 11st 12lbs. The selection must be competitive from his current mark if he is to be considered a potential Gold Cup horse and he can take this en route to next month’s Hennessy Gold Cup.
At Kelso Imperial Vic (3.20) has changed yards since he was last seen at Wetherby back in the spring and his well-being must be taken on trust, but he narrowly failed to give Green Flag 7lbs on this corresponding card last year, has gone well fresh in the past and his regular jockey Danny Cook keeps the mount for his new trainer.