Qipco British Champions Day latest….
FRENCH-trained horses were heavily backed yesterday for Ascot’s two highlights on Qipco British Champions Day, with Maxios backed into second favourite for the showpiece mile race, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Maxios, conqueror of Olympic Glory by five lengths in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin last month, was available at 6-1 on Wednesday morning, but has been cut to a generallly available 9/2 from that top price with a best priced 5/1 with Betfred, while lengthening Soft Falling Rain half a point to 9/2.
Only Dawn Approach is now in front of Maxios in Hills’ market, at 2-1 and Jonathan Pease, trainer of Maxios, confirmed the Niarchos-owned colt would head to Ascot for Saturday’s £1 million race.
As well as having a good chance in the QEII, France boasts the favourite in the Qipco Champion Stakes in the shape of 2011 winner Cirrus Des Aigles, who like Maxios appreciates softish ground. The 5-4 available about him on Wednesday morning soon disappeared, with 11-10 the best price, and he was not the only cross-Channel raider popular with punters, as Morandi was cut into 14-1 (from 20) by Betfred, with other firms also reporting interest.
Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths said: “Morandi is a fascinating contender. It hasn’t taken long for punters to cotton on to his rock-solid form on soft ground and we want to keep him onside.”
Morandi is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget and went down by only three-quarters of a length to Intello in the Prix du Prince d’Orange at Longchamp last month, form that the winner upheld when a fine third in the Arc de Triomphe.
France also have the second favourite for the third Group 1 at Ascot on Saturday, the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, in Dalkala, winner of the Prix de l’Opera on Arc day.
The ground was officially soft at Ascot on Wednesday evening, the surface losing its good to soft patches after 6mm of rain.
Clerk of the course Chris Stickels reported on Wednesday: “We had 6mm today and I’m changing the going to soft. It’s more likely to be dry tomorrow. There are more likely to be showers Friday and Saturday.”