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Cracksman unfancied for Champion Stakes repeat

Cracksman unfancied for Champion Stakes repeat

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The culmination of another wonderful summer on the Flat comes at Ascot on Saturday afternoon, with the eighth staging of British Champions Day, already so well established on the racing calendar.

Cracksman will look to sign off with a Champions Stakes repeat, while stablemate Roaring Lion bids to complete a Group One four-timer, but both might have their work cut out.

Recoletos @ 11/2 in QEII – Ascot 3.15

Roaring Lion has been the star of the summer since he finished third in the Derby at Epsom. With Masar absent since, John Gosden’s colt has stepped up in every way. He’s landed a hat-trick of Group One wins, including the Irish Champion Stakes last time, all of them over a mile and a quarter.

The rain-softened Ascot ground has denied Roaring Lion a run in the Champion Stakes and instead he drops to a mile for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, where he might be vulnerable.

The ground is an unknown and he meets crack French miler Recoletos here. The selection has enjoyed a fine season, winning two Group Ones and chasing home Alpha Centauri in a third.

He has a preference for the mile trip and acts on soft ground. Having disappointed in the Queen Anne here in June (on good to firm), he can make amends now and might have Roaring Lion’s number over this trip.

Tasleet @ 10/1 in Champions Sprint Stakes – Ascot 2.00

Last year’s runner-up merits some thought at the prices as he re-opposes Librisa Breeze here. William Haggas’ charge was well beaten in the final analysis at Haydock last month in the Sprint Cup (won by The Tin Man), but that was only his second run this season.

Tasleet finished second in three Group Ones last season and was a decisive Group Two scorer at York over this trip on soft ground.

His best form ties him in closely with The Tin Man and Librisa Breeze, while Harry Angel will have plenty doubters on this Ascot track.

Limato surely won’t relish the conditions and so, with low mileage this term, Tasleet looks worth chancing for a place -or better – over a C&D that suits and in conditions that won’t faze him with new headgear applied.

Lah Ti Dar @ 5/4 in Fillies & Mares Stakes – Ascot 2.40

Second in the St Leger last month, Lah Ti Dar lost her unbeaten record but little else on Town Moor. The Dubawi filly mixed it with the boys and, despite still looking like she was learning her job, stayed on well to take the runner-up spot behind Kew Gardens, well clear of the rest of the Classic-chasing pack.

With that rival out of the way now, she makes serious appeal to net a Group One triumph of her own. The drop back in distance isn’t a concern and she has handled good to soft before so the ground is not likely to be her undoing.

She has got a bright future and can confirm it be winning here under Frankie Dettori, with Aidan O’Brien’s Magical perhaps the one she has to fear most.

Capri @ 6/1 in Qipco Champion Stakes – Ascot 3.50

Winner of the St Leger last season (beat Crystal Ocean), Capri has raced just three times this season and ought to relish the soft going and ensuing stamina test posed here.

The Ballydoyle colt also got the best of Cracksman last term when winning the Irish Derby and makes most appeal at the prices.

Crystal Ocean is respected but it is hard to enthuse about last year’s winner Cracksman given his form this summer. The blinkers are tried in what will be his racecourse swansong and, odds-on, he can be opposed.

Capri wasn’t beaten far behind Enable in the Arc recently and could be a big danger if this calls for grit in the closing stages.

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Enda McElhinney Our racing expert, Enda studies cards in both England and Ireland on a daily basis and knows all the details you need to know when trying to select a winner. He is also a regular football writer and has strong knowledge of the Scottish game, with golf another specialised sport on his CV.