Ben Linfoot highlights the best three equine performances on QIPCO British Champions Day as Addeybb, The Revenant and Trueshan rose to the occasion.
Champions Day Reports
Champions Day headliner: Haggas patience pays off with Addeybb
He started the year with Group One wins in Australia at Rosehill and Randwick and he’s ended it with a maiden Group One victory in the UK.
It’s been some year for Addeybb, a gelding who is better than ever at the age of six thanks to the patience of his master trainer, William Haggas, who didn’t race him at all as a juvenile and brought him through the system slowly.
At the end of his first season on the track, at three, he was winning the Silver Cambridgeshire off a mark of 93 and he opened his four-year-old campaign with a win in the Lincoln off 99.
That pace for a mile proved vital in the QIPCO Champion Stakes on Saturday, but such victories on this card looked a world away when he was 12th in the QEII on this day back in 2018, a performance that was the catalyst for him stepping up in trip in a pair of sheepskin cheekpieces.
Since then he hasn’t looked back. Since then he has form figures of 3-4-1-2-1-2-1-1-2-1 and while that penultimate second came in this race last year, that missed golden opportunity was simply a minor bump in the road.
His Australia victories looked like a shrewd bit of placing rather than the emergence of a multiple Group One winner, but he has become just that now and this performance was the best of the lot against a good field that couldn’t lay a glove on him.
Granted, he needs the sort of testing ground that he experienced today to be at his best, but given those conditions he’s a high-class horse and, with him being a gelding, he’ll have the chance to add more top-level trophies to the Haggas’ mantelpiece in the future.
He was the recipient of a superb ride from Tom Marquand, who negotiated a tricky wide draw without fuss, the pair gliding into the front rank just off Serpentine which turned out to be ideal.
They didn’t go fast – this was the slowest winning time since the race was moved to Ascot for Champions Day – and that’s where his pace became a weapon, as he quickened off the front end in ground that he goes through easily.
It was a good renewal, too, with Skalleti, a horse who beat the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sottsass in August, two and a quarter lengths back in second, and the plucky Magical, last year’s winner but not quite at her best today, in third.
Bolstered by the would-be Arc horses Serpentine and Japan, Longchamp’s loss was Ascot’s gain as the fallout from the contaminated feed fiasco resulted in a strong field that contained six horses rated 120 or bigger, with a few more just on the cusp of that class.
Addeyyb was one of those, rated 122 going into this, a mark that is unlikely to change too much, if at all.
He’s certainly deserving of that number and though he’s rising seven now, that aforementioned patience means he’s relatively lightly-raced for his age, with just 20 career starts under his belt, so further Group One success, whether in his native country or abroad, cannot be ruled out.
Best training performance: The Revenant stars for golden Graffard
Despite Haggas’ long-term excellence with Addeybb, training performance of the day goes to Francis-Henri Graffard after his The Revenant took out the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on just his second start of the season.
Runner-up in the same race last year to King Of Change, with the knowledge that this particular test suits in the bank, Graffard gave The Revenant a sparing campaign with one day in mind.
A comfortable winner in the Group Two Prix Daniel Wildenstein on his reappearance on Arc weekend, the son of Dubawi improved for that outing under a confident ride from Pierre Charles-Boudot.
They broke well from stall six and sat prominent off Circus Maximus and Roseman, quickly settling into a groove towards the head of affairs off what looked slower fractions than ideal for those more patiently ridden.
Frankie Dettori, on the odds-on favourite Palace Pier, certainly felt mid-race that he needed to be closer to the pace and a striking forward move looked like it might be decisive three out.
However, Palace Pier was soon being niggled along while The Revenant moved smoothly, on ground he loves, between rivals, namely John Gosden’s horse and Circus Maximus, while the front-running Roseman was still at the head of affairs slightly more towards the stands’ side.
Dettori looked down as Palace Pier could find no more, and it transpired he lost his near-fore shoe, in the starting gate according to Gosden, so there do appear to be excuses for the vanquished market leader who remains a top miling prospect if he stays in training at four.
Today it was The Revenant’s day, though, and his victory can be in part put down to a significant late move from the brilliant Boudot, who leaned his mount left towards final rival Roseman who wasn’t stopping after a fine run from the front.
That manoeuvre saw The Revenant eyeball his challenger and he pulled out more to win by a head, a job well done for all involved; horse, jockey and trainer.
Biggest improver: Trueshan’s Long Distance Cup romp
The QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup has been a huge part of the Champions Day tapestry despite its Group Two status and that’s largely been because of some thrilling finishes.
Since Champions Day became a thing the winning distances in this race have been a length and a quarter, a neck, a nose, a length and three quarters, a length, half a length, half a length, a length and a half and a nose – which adds up to six and three quarter lengths.
Trueshan won Saturday’s race by seven and a half lengths, a bigger winning distance than the other nine renewals put together, an incredible bare result - the manner of which was a bolt from the blue.
It is a performance that has to be approached with a degree of caution.
A below-par effort from Stradivarius, just 13 days after his seventh in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, opened up an opportunity for a new kid on the block and the soft ground, heavy in places on the round course, was hard work with Trueshan handling it better than anything.
But to come to the conclusion that this was a freak result because of those two factors would be wrong. A freak performance, maybe, but Trueshan is a young and unexposed stayer, who was tackling two miles for the first time, and his profile is one of rapid progression.
Out of the top two in just three of his 11 career starts, he put in a career-best performance when accounting for Withhold at Salisbury last time, but he eclipsed that by some margin here despite racing keenly in the early part of the race.
Hollie Doyle, negotiating the first leg of a Champions Day double, didn’t panic and eventually got him settled in midfield on the outside, and while she had to show strength and class to get Glen Shiel home half an hour later, she was largely a passenger in the closing stages of Trueshan’s win.
Rounding the turn for home it was clear he was travelling best of all and once Doyle went in pursuit of Fujaira Prince it was game over for the rest, as Alan King’s four-year-old coasted away from his rivals for a clear-cut success.
Putting a number on this isn’t easy for the handicapper. Trueshan has beaten the Irish St Leger one-two, Search For A Song and Fujaira Prince, by over seven lengths and he has reversed the Sky Bet Ebor form with the latter, where he was beaten eight lengths when giving him 1lb, emphatically, over the extra two furlongs.
To rate him around the proximity of those two horses would be to presume they have both run to form and that would warrant a mark in the 120s, but with the 110-rated Morando a neck behind in fourth the assessor has licence to be more conservative with Trueshan’s new number.
Morando handles this ground well and he ran his race. Indeed, he travelled better than anything other than the winner and looked likely to play a bigger part in the finish than he did, an indicator that he didn’t quite stay.
With that in mind, I don’t think he was quite at the peak of his best efforts over shorter and he probably ran to his current mark, which would suggest a performance nudging 120 from Trueshan and something like a 10lb hike, to a rating of 119, seems likely.
That puts him in pole position for the big staying races next season, where he deserves to be after a performance like this.
If he’s to develop into a Gold Cup horse he’ll have to settle better, but King, a superb dual-purpose trainer nowadays, has the best Flat horse he’s ever had on his hands and he looks a fearsome rival for even a peak-form Stradivarius next year.