Ascot Champions Day: Sealiway springs surprise to win Champion Stakes

Round-up: O’Brien’s Snowfall disappoints as Eshaada wins Fillies & Mares Stakes

Mickael Barzalona riding Sealiway (yellow/green) wins the Qipco Champion Stakes during British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Mickael Barzalona riding Sealiway (yellow/green) wins the Qipco Champion Stakes during British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Sealiway sprang a 12-1 surprise in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot as the big two, Adayar and Mishriff, finished out of the first three.

Fifth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 13 days earlier, Sealiway bettered the form he showed when runner-up to St Mark’s Basilica in the French Derby to lift the mile-and-a-quarter showpiece.

The three-year-old colt, trained by Cedric Rossi and ridden by Mickael Barzalona, was made to fight all the way by the William Haggas-trained Dubai Honour, who only went down by three-quarters of a length.

Mac Swiney ran a big race in third place, a length and a half away. Mishriff was a length back in fourth.

Addeybb, successful 12 months ago, disputed matters, although he was a spent force early in the straight after Derby hero Adayar set sail for home.

But as in the Arc, his bid fizzled out and Sealiway came through to lead. Mishriff tried to mount a challenge, but he had no more to give in the closing stages.

It was left to Dubai Honour to put it up to Sealiway — but the French raider was just too strong despite drifting in the closing stages.

Barzalona — who won the Derby in 2011 with Pour Moi — said: “It’s great to be back in the big time and be with this horse since the beginning. He deserved to prove his talent like he did today.

“I didn’t sit on him on Arc day but the team were very confident, they said he was in good form and that he had improved a lot since the Arc run so although it was a tough race they were pretty confident.

“I thought I was always going to hold Dubai Honour when he didn’t pass me straight away.”

Haggas said Dubai Honour, who had won the Prix Dollar on Arc weekend: “He was a little bit unfortunate because he’s a hold-up horse drawn in stall 10 and Adayar missed the break and just as James (Doyle) was trying to get him in, Adayar went hurtling past him and set him alight a bit.

“No excuse, we were quite far back but that’s the way he needs to be ridden. He came with what looked like a winning run, but the other horse outstayed him.

“He’s another that has made great progress. I was thinking that the Hong Kong Cup might suit him, he would enjoy that long straight and he seems to run well right-handed. I don’t know about Australia for him yet.”

Adayar was fifth, and trainer Charlie Appleby said: “William (Buick) said that he was always doing enough and although one back and one off the rail looked like he was in a nice position, Will just said that he was always doing too much and it paid up the straight. Those exertions paid towards the end.

“We made the decision to come here and maybe it was a tougher race than we thought in the Arc.

“We’ll put him away now and he’s still a nice horse for next year.”

Baaeed maintained his unbeaten record as he lowered the colours of Palace Pier in a top-class renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The William Haggas-trained colt only made his racecourse debut in June — but has a perfect record of six after winning a second successive Group One following his victory in the Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp.

Jim Crowley riding Baaeed celebrates winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Jim Crowley riding Baaeed celebrates winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Benbatl set a sedate early pace from last year’s winner The Revenant, before the gallop picked up from halfway. The 10 runners congregated on the far side with Baaeed having to make his challenge on the outside from his wide draw.

Baaeed (2-1) was travelling well for Jim Crowley and he soon got into a battle with market rival and five-time Group One scorer Palace Pier, the 6-4 favourite in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

Both gave their all and it was Baaeed who crossed the line a neck in front of the game runner-up, to give owners Shadwell Estate and Crowley a quick big-race double after the victory of Eshaada in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Lady Bowthorpe (40-1) stayed on strongly to be just a length and a quarter behind in third in her last race before she is retired to the paddocks.

Haggas said: “Could you believe we’d be standing here at the start of the season? What a silly question. He’s done it.

“He’s won today. I think Jim’s words were he coped with the ground, rather than loved it, and he’s beaten the best miler in Europe so what can you say? I’m thrilled to bits. I’m shaking.

“I watched it while I was walking around a bit trying to get up my 10,000 steps a day and I’ve succeeded in that. That was great.”

A jubilant Crowley said: “I think he could be a world champion. He’s just a beast, he keeps getting better.

“The ground was a bit slow for him and on quicker ground I think he would pick up better, but he’s come a long way in a short space of time and he’s a proper champion.

“I know Sheikh Hamdan will be looking down, smiling, and I owe him everything, he gave me this opportunity, he chose me to be his jockey and although he’s not here to see it, it’s nice to be able to repay him.”

Lady Bowthorpe has been brilliant for William Jarvis this year, and he paid tribute to his hugely-popular mare.

He said: “That effort just shows what a great mare she is. I’m thrilled. And yet I’m also very sad to see her go (to the paddocks). She owes us nothing and we are so very lucky to have had her.

“It’s a great story, ending in her putting on a career-best against the best two milers in the world. I have a good idea where she will go, and let me say it will be a quite expensive mating.”

Creative Force completed his progression from handicaps to the top level by taking the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes in the hands of William Buick.

Rated just 89 in April, the Charlie Appleby-trained colt has gone up 25lb in the ratings and picked good prizes such as the Group Three Jersey Strakes at the Royal meeting.

William Buick riding Creative Force wins the British Champions Sprint Stakes. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
William Buick riding Creative Force wins the British Champions Sprint Stakes. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Dubawi gelding had run with credit in both the July Cup and Haydock Sprint Cup without making the frame, but that experience in Group Ones was a positive — as was the stiff six furlongs on soft ground.

Last year’s winner Glen Shiel made the running and proved a tough nut to crack, but Creative Force (11-2) was up to the task.

Hitting the front in the final furlong, the Godolphin runner kept up the gallop to hold off Glen Shiel (22-1) by a length and give Buick his 151st winner of the season, two behind reigning champion Oisin Murphy with just four races left on the final day of the title race.

Minzaal (16-1) was a length back in third with Art Power (3-1 favourite) a head away in fourth.

Appleby, remarkably saddling his first Champions Day runner, said: “After Haydock, it was always the plan to come here. The two positives were the ground being what it is and secondly him sharpening up.

“After winning the Jersey here at the Royal meeting, we ran him in the July Cup and then backed him up at Goodwood. James (Doyle) said he over-raced at Goodwood and felt like a sprinter in a seven-furlong race.

“I thought we were going to run a big race at Haydock, but the ground was too fast for him.

“In these big sprints they’ve got to be able to travel and this horse travels for fun. William rode him with bags of confidence and having won over seven here, we knew he was going to hit the line hard.

“It’s a great team result. It’s been a great season and for this little horse to win a Group One is brilliant.

“He’s a typical Dubawi who should get better with age and I feel the sprinting division is quite open.

“With Starman retired, there’s a hole there to be filled and I feel this horse is potentially young enough to do that — we’ve been looking for a new star sprinter since Blue Point was retired, so hopefully this horse can be a fun horse for the next year or two.”

Buick said: “He really did deserve it. Obviously he won the Jersey here and he goes through that ground, which is a big help.

“The race worked out perfectly today — we had a nice draw and I liked the look of it. It worked out how I wanted it to and he was in good form going into it.

“He certainly deserved it, but we thought it was a good chance for him to show his best today.

“There were a lot of runners, they all turned up but he travelled into it very smoothly and it was a case of just waiting with him a little bit.

“He stumbled out of the stalls and the ground was very fast at Haydock, but if you stumble out of the stalls in a six-furlong Group One then it’s game over but he did get himself back into it and he ran well, considering.”

Eshaada just edged out Albaflora in a thrilling finish to the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

The two protagonists pulled away from Aidan O’Brien’s odds-on market leader Snowfall, who was disappointing in third.

Eshaada ridden by jockey Jim Crowley (left) wins the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes with Albaflora ridden by Rossa Ryan second. Photo: Steven Paston/PA Wire
Eshaada ridden by jockey Jim Crowley (left) wins the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes with Albaflora ridden by Rossa Ryan second. Photo: Steven Paston/PA Wire

Eshaada (16-1) had not raced since finishing last of seven behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained favourite in the Yorkshire Oaks in August — but she bounced back to take the Group One honours for trainer Roger Varian and jockey Jim Crowley.

Mystery Angel and La Joconde shared the duties up front before the latter went on at halfway. Ryan Moore had Snowfall tucked away in sixth place and though she made ground in the straight the spark she showed when winning the Oaks at Epsom and the Curragh was missing.

There was little between the first two as they battled it out in the closing stages, with Eshaada getting the verdict by a shot head from Albaflora and Snowfall three and a half lengths away.

Varian said: “Her only poor performance was at York and the Ribblesdale form had worked out very well with the winner (Loving Dream) winning the Prix de Royallieu two weeks ago at ParisLongchamp.

“The ground was tight at York and it’s a funny place. Maybe she needs cut in the ground.

“Coming here today she had track form and has always looked a class filly, so I thought she was a touch overpriced beforehand.

“We were very happy with her condition and everything went right during the race. She always had a good position and kicked in the straight. She had to be really tough inside the final two furlongs, but she stuck her neck out and was really game.

“I should think a discussion will be had with the team at Shadwell (regarding the future). We’d love to have her around for another year, (but) that won’t be my decision.

“She’s a big, scopey filly who is still lightly-raced and you would think her best days are perhaps still ahead of her.”

O’Brien said of Snowfall: “She ran an okay race, obviously you would be disappointed she didn’t win. She’s had plenty of racing, it was a steadily enough run race and they quickened and she followed them, but she just didn’t get to them.

“Ryan said he would have preferred the pace to be a bit stronger early. Snowfall was slow away and didn’t want to come out and around them. There you go - that’s the way it is.

“We haven’t said anything really (about next year). We’ll see how she is, but that is probably it this year.”

Trueshan was a brilliant winner of the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup, the first race of the day.

Starting as the well-backed evens favourite under Hollie Doyle, the Alan King-trained gelding was lining up against staying great Stradivarius for the second time after John Gosden’s chestnut was beaten in the Prix Du Cadran last time.

This time Stradivarius could only come home in third, with Brian Ellison’s Tashkhan second under Ben Robinson at huge odds of 50-1.

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