British Champions Day could live up to billing if Adayar and Mishriff clash

One-two from July’s King George could meet again at Ascot to decide world leader

William Buick riding Adayar to win the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot in July. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Saturday's British Champions Day at Ascot has a shot at living up to its billing in style and potentially produce a world leader in Europe's final major Flat fixture of 2021.

Both Adayar and Mishriff remain in contention to clash in the Qipco Champion Stakes after 14 horses were left in the race at Monday's acceptance stage.

The stars who finished 1-2 in July’s King George at Ascot currently share top-billing in International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) ratings with the retired St Mark’s Basilica.

Next best in the IFHA rankings is Palace Pier who is set to line up in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Saturday.


A dominant display at the 11th renewal of British racing’s showpiece event could prove a definitive world-championship performance for the year.

It is the type of role the fixture was designed for and which looked like being regularly fulfilled when Frankel dominated the first two renewals.

More often than not since then testing ground conditions have got in the way but the weather fates appear likely to be more helpful this time.

Ascot officials are predicting going on the “easy side” of good, which by mid-October standards represents a first important result.

"The going currently on the straight course is good to soft, soft in places, and on the round course it's soft, good to soft in places, with quite a promising forecast," clerk of the course, Chris Stickels, reported on Monday.

“I’m anticipating, given the forecast, that conditions will improve a little by the end of the week. Good ground could feature on both courses but I think it will be on the easy side,” he added.

That will be good news for prospects of Godolphin giving Adayar a green light to renew rivalry with Mishriff.

The Derby winner had almost two lengths in hand of his rival in the King George during the summer but the 10-furlong trip on decent ground is expected to favour Mishriff more.

Last year’s winner Addeybb is also set to line up, although he famously relishes heavy going which he got in 2020..

Aidan O’Brien finally broke his Champion Stakes duck in 2019 with Magical and has kept open the option of pitching Snowfall and/or Love into the mix.

Both fillies have also been given entries in the mile and a half Filly & Mare Stakes on the same card.

Another Ballydoyle Classic winner, the 1,000 Guineas heroine Mother Earth, could fly the Irish flag in the QEII after Jim Bolger's dual-Group One winning colt Poetic Flare was ruled out.

Palace Pier is likely to meet the rising unbeaten star Baaeed who graduated to Group One success in the Prix Du Moulin on his last start.

Joe Murphy's Gustavus Westson could try to do the same in Saturday's Champions Sprint although the race will lack Starman who has been retired to Tally-Ho Stud in Westmeath.

The July Cup winner was ruled out of Ascot with a minor setback and trainer Ed Walker said: "It's a huge shame as we were really looking forward to Saturday and confirming him to be the champion that he is."

The immediate racing focus in Ireland on Tuesday will be on Punchestown's jumps action and also what impact the Government's budget announcement for 2022 will have on the sector.

Last year's budget saw Horse Racing Ireland receive €76.8 million in funding, a €9.6 million (14 per cent ) jump on the previous year and reflective of increased wider Government support in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There was also a separate €1.5 million provided for development of the Irish Equine Centre.

Various organisations were unwilling to speculate on what Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe might reveal ahead of his latest budget on Tuesday.

The increasing focus on winter jumps action is underlined by back to back midweek cards at Punchestown with a pair of Grade Three chases at the Co Kildare track on Wednesday.

One of them includes Galvin, winner of the long-distance National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham festival in March.

However, it is his stable companion Ballyadam who looks the main attraction on Tuesday when he makes his chase debut in the opener.

Winner of the Grade One Royal Bond over hurdles last season, Ballyadam subsequently had the thankless task of chasing Appreciate It around, including when runner-up in the Supreme at Cheltenham in his first start for Henry De Bromehead.

He faces a dangerous opponent in the former Irish Cesarewitch winner Cape Gentleman who isn’t rated far behind Ballyadam over hurdles.

However, the latter is a former point-to-point winner and should relish ground conditions that have been watered.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column