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Solow vs Gleneagles in Q E II: Jack Hobbs favored in Champions Stakes - By Tom Krish

Posted on - 15 Oct 2015

Solow vs Gleneagles in Q E II: Jack Hobbs favored in Champions Stakes - By Tom Krish 
The sun has hardly come out on Wednesday and Thursday in London. There was a drizzle late afternoon on Thursday. The going is expected to be ‘good to soft’ on Champions Day.
Talking about the ground at Ascot for Saturday, there is some drama playing out. Gleneagles, winner of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, has missed races since on account of soft ground. Gleneagles has been declared in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes ( straight 1600 metres) but the colt’s participation will depend on the ground. The decision will be taken by Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Gleneagles, after he walks the track at Ascot on Friday afternoon.
There is a ‘will Gleneagles run or will he not’ bet and at the moment. The ‘Gleneagles will run’ offer is 5/4. The bookmaking firms are taking wagers on Gleneagles and have agreed to refund the bets if Gleneagles is not a runner. Wagering has been elevated to ‘art’ form in the United Kingdom. You suggest a proposition and odds will be offered.
There are six races on Saturday. The first race is at 12 45 P M and it is the Long Distance Cup over 3200 metres. It is a 13-horse field with the winner getting 195,650 pounds. Forgotten Rules, winner in 2014, is back in. The trainer is Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen is the jockey.
At 1 20 P M, the 20-runner Champions Sprint field, will be at the gate. Muhaaraar, a Charles Hills pupil owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, is the clear favorite. The Oasis Dream colt is seeking his fourth Group I win in a row. He last win came in Deauville’s Prix Maurice de Gheest on August 29 over 1300 metres. It is a straight dash and Muhaaraar has drawn post 12. Paul Hanagan rides.
The next race at 1 55 P M is the Champion Fillies and Mares race over 2400 metres. There are twelve runners. Covert Love, winner of the Irish Oaks and victorious in the Prix de l’Opera on Arc day at Longchamp, is the tepid market leader at 4/1. Pat Smullen rides the Hugo Palmer-trained filly. Covert Love is by Azamour, a name Indian fans should be familiar with. Simple Verse, who won the English St Leger and lost it in the Stewards’ room, takes her chances. Madame Chiang won this event last year and she is back to defend her title. Then there is Arabian Queen who beat Golden Horn in York’s Juddmonte International in August. Silvestre De Sousa, to be crowned 2014 champion jockey, is on board. John Gosden and Frankie Dettori come up with the fast-improving Journey.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1600 metres) over a straight course is at 2 30 p m. Nine run. Gleneagles and Solow head the market. The ground-dependent Gleneagles has not run since June. He has skipped not one, not two but three Group I races because Aidan O’Brien did not consider the ground satisfactory. As brilliant as Glenegales is, Solow, an Andre Fabre trainee and a Singspiel colt, has won 11 of his last twelve races. Solow won the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and won Goodwood’s Sussex Stakes in August.
One interesting thing about Solow that I noticed is the number of courses he has raced at. Beginning in 2014 April, Solow has raced and won at Longchamp, Saint Cloud, Clairefontaine, Deauville, Chantilly, Dubai’s Meydan, Ascot and Goodwood. Maxim Guyon rides Solow.
The 2000-metre Champion Stakes is at 3 05 P M. Thirteen horses go postward. The winner’s purse is 1.3 million pounds. Jack Hobbs is the 5/4 favorite. After losing to Golden Horn in York’s Dante Stakes in May, Jack Hobbs, from John Gosden’s yard, went to the Curragh and won the Irish Derby. To keep Jack Hobbs in shape, trainer Gosden let Jack Hobbs win a race on the all weather. William Buick rides Jack Hobbs, a son of Halling.
The six-race card concludes with the Balmoral Handicap run at 3 45 P M. It is a 23-horse field with 1600 metres in front of them.
Trainer Gosden, trainer of Golden Horn and having a very productive 2015, said this about the draw for Jack Hobbs. “It is disappointing. For those who know the mile and a quarter start at Ascot, the bend comes up very quickly and you are naturally forced wide. One thing for sure Jack won’t get boxed in. I’ll leave the tactics to William Buick.”
Cirrus Des Aigles won the inaugural Champions Stakes with Christophe Soumillon in 2011. A disqualification  came because jockey Soumillon used the whip over the limit. In 2012, Cirrus Des Aigles was the bridesmaid when the incomparable Frankel won. In 2013 and 2014, Cirrus Des Aigles, raced in the Champion Stakes. The eight year-old warrior was taken out Thursday morning when declarations were due.
A word on jockey Soumillon. He lost a race on disqualification in Japan. It was a Group I contest. He lost the Arlington Million after an inquiry in 2013. When you have won a boatload of Group I races,  not keeping three after you have won them matter? I believe it will especially after you have won them clear cut and are taken to task and offered an explanation that is subjective and clouded with ambiguity.
Silvestre De Sousa was the subject of a front page story on Thursday in the Racing Post. The Racing Post covers every track in England and Ireland. Past performance lines, comments,  stories and analysis make the Racing Post a quintessential tool for handicapping. The comments are thoughtful and well written.
Silvestre’s family has come from Brazil. It will be a celebration at Ascot on Saturday. This is a title for which Silvestre has worked extra hard. He goes to the US to ride in the winter. I will try to get a word with him. What a thrill it is to be at Ascot on this historic day! 
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author's personal views.)

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