Countdown to Champions Day: French raider seeks revenge for Arc bloodbath

Enable, ridden by Frankie Dettori, just holds off fellow British filly Sea Of Class to win her second successive Qatar Ptix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.
Enable, ridden by Frankie Dettori, just holds off fellow British filly Sea Of Class to win her second successive Qatar Ptix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.

France’s prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend turned into something of a benefit for UK-based horses, who landed eight of the 11 Group races.

The Arc winner herself, ENABLE, spearheaded a successful raid on Longchamp, which also included three victories for the resurgent Newmarket-based Godolphin operation.

But one French trainer is hoping to turn the tables next week when Ascot stages the UK equivalent to Arc Day, the magnificent QIPCO British Champions Day, on Saturday, October 20.

For Carlos Laffon-Parias is bringing over his stable star, RECOLETOS, with every intention of upsetting the home-based applecart in the QIPCO Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over 1m.

Recoletos came fourth to Cracksman at the same meeting last year, in the QIPCO Champion Stakes over 10f. But Laffon-Parias is hopeful the drop in trip will suit his 4yo colt.

He said: “We rode him to win that race last year, and it cost us second place. I think if we had waited a little bit more, he would have been second. But it was a still a great performance. The horse is well at the moment, and I am quite confident.

“To win in England is a dream for all trainers and especially for me. I am Spanish, but I started with English races and I arrived in France 30 years ago. The dream is to win a race at Ascot.”

Having been campaigned over the shorter distance of 1m this season, Recoletos has already won two Group 1s, the Prix d’Ispahan and the Prix du Moulin in his home country.

He is a general 3/1 shot for what is the richest mile race in Europe, but he might have to contend with the filly LAURENS, who won another QIPCO British Champions Series race at the weekend, the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket, and could be supplemented to take on the colts at Ascot.

Karl Burke, Laurens’s trainer, said: “We’re delighted with her. She only lost four kilos on the whole trip and she looks in great shape.

“She’s got a great constitution, and I think she’s come out of Saturday better than she came out of her previous race, the Matron at The Curragh when she beat Alpha Centauri.

“We are definitely planning to run her again this year. I’ve spoken to the owner John Dance and, at the moment, we’re leaning towards Ascot.

“She’s in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, but it’s more likely we’ll supplement for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, especially if the ground is on the easy side.”

Although QIPCO British Champions Day has emerged as the likely next port of call for Laurens, Burke is not ruling out the possibility of also sending his filly across the Atlantic for next month’s Breeders’ Cup.

He added: “It’s definitely not impossible she could do both. Nothing is set in stone, but we’ll aim for Ascot and take it from there.”

QIPCO British Champions Day is the richest raceday in the British calendar, with £4.35 million in prize money on offer, and is the finale to the European Flat racing season. It has an unrivalled card, featuring four Group 1s, a Group 2 and the richest 1m handicap in Europe

The two top enclosures for the day, the King Edward VII and Winning Post enclosures, have now sold out, with the only available tickets in the Queen Anne enclosure. Tickets start from £35, with accompanied under 18s attending for free. For tickets, go to britishchampionsday.co.uk

DON’T MISS OUR RACE-BY-RACE GUIDE TO CHAMPIONS DAY, ONLINE HERE NEXT WEEK.