Our racing pundits with their Nap selections for QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday.
Ed Chamberlin - Lord Glitters (3.50)
It's a fascinating renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes as Roaring Lion switches back to a mile in a bid to win his fourth Group One prize of the season. He's a worthy favourite but I want an Ascot specialist on my side, with the added bonus of him being proven on soft ground too. Step forward Lord Glitters who loves this place, loves the ground and looks primed to run a huge race.
Ben Linfoot - Flag Of Honour (1.25)
It's been a long old season for Stradivarius, a horse that's four from four with a million pound bonus in his back pocket. With the bounty landed, John Gosden has put him away for a few months and saved him for Champions Day, but the ground has gone against him and at short prices he's worth taking on. It's not the deepest of races, but the improving three-year-old in the field, Irish St Leger winner Flag Of Honour, could well make the most of the 8lb he receives from the favourite for Aidan O'Brien.
Alex Hammond - Pilaster (2.40)
John Gosden is strongly represented with Coronet and St Leger runner up Lah Ti Dar. I think it may be worth taking a chance on Pilaster though at the prices. Roger Varian’s filly was possibly a bit unlucky not to win the Park Hill at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting, as the race wasn’t run to suit. She’s lightly raced and hopefully improving, which she needs to be in such hot company.
David Ord - Mitchum Swagger (4.30)
He's in danger of becoming a cliff horse but I can't let Mitchum Swagger go unbacked here. He made a very promising start for new trainer Ralph Beckett when third in a red-hot Lincoln at Doncaster in March. That form has worked out well but the six-year-old wasn't seen again until the 29th September. He was all-the-rage for a Haydock handicap but the ground dried out and was totally against him. He finished sixth but is much better than that and crucially gets his favoured surface here. He's a pound lower than at Town Moor and has form on the straight track at Ascot having finished third in the 2016 Hunt Cup (from three pounds higher). A big run is on the cards.
Oli Bell - Lah Ti Dar (2.40)
I predict it could be a gruelling day for bookmakers with favourites set to dominate. The one I'm most sweet on is Lah Ti Dar, who enhanced her reputation with a fine effort in defeat against a battle-hardened colt in the St Leger. John Gosden's filly is going to take the world of beating back against her own sex and although Aidan O'Brien unleashes a seriously strong attempt to bring her down, class will out and the fast-improving Lah Ti Dar can get the job done under Frankie Dettori.
Matt Brocklebank - Roaring Lion (3.15)
No shortage of John Gosden-trained bankers to choose from on Champions Day but Roaring Lion is impossible to oppose in the QEII. He's been a revelation through the middle part of the season and the way he knuckled down to beat Saxon Warrior in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown was pretty sensational. The others will need Roaring Lion to perform well below his best to stand any chance of beating him and while soft ground may not be absolutely ideal, he's proven with cut in the ground already and his class should see him through.
Mike Cattermole - Crystal Ocean (3.50 Ascot)
The fact that Sir Michael Stoute never considered the Arc for Crystal Ocean suggests that this has been the target all along and he could take a lot of beating. Note that the official handicapper rates him 4lb superior to Cracksman. There has been nothing wrong with Crystal Ocean’s attitude, even when his sparkling winning run was ended in the King George (by stablemate Poet’s Word) and again when trying the impossible in giving 8lb to Enable at Kempton. He looked comfortable on soft ground at Goodwood last year and although this trip may be on the sharp side, this is a stiff mile and a quarter.