Highlights & report: Almanzor wins Champion Stakes at Ascot

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Almanzor capped a brilliant season with victory for France in a thrilling Champion Stakes at Ascot.

The 11-8 favourite, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, beat Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Found.

Jack Hobbs was third on Champions Day, Britain’s richest raceday, which boasts prize money of £4.26m.

Earlier, Minding clocked up a seventh Group One success to land the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for jockey Ryan Moore.

It was trainer Aidan O’Brien’s 21st Group One victory on the flat in 2016, four short of the all-time record held by American Bobby Frankel.

The Tin Man won the Champion Sprint Stakes under Tom Queally, jockey of the legendary retired racehorse Frankel.

Frankie Dettori took the Fillies and Mares Stakes aboard Journey, trained by John Gosden.

French triumph on British Champions Day

Christophe Soumillon rides Almanzor to victory in the Champion Stakes at Ascot

A big chunk of the prize money is heading back to France after Almanzor took the feature race, which offered a purse of more than £700,000 to the winner.

The French Derby victor had beaten Found in the Irish Champion Stakes last month and it was the same result this time round before a crowd of 31,835.

Found briefly threatened to draw level with Almanzor in the final furlong but the French challenger pulled away to win by two lengths.

“In the last 100 metres, he kept going – it’s amazing to ride a champion like him,” said Soumillon.

Stewards held an inquiry after it was discovered Almanzor’s team had brought a minor medication into the stables without permission.

A similar issue arose earlier with trainers Francois Rohaut and Hugo Palmer. The matters were referred to the British Horseracing Authority, although they are not thought to be major transgressions.

Magnificent seven for Minding


A stellar campaign for three-year-old Minding was capped when she beat the boys to become the first filly to triumph in the one-mile QEII Stakes since Milligram in 1987.

Moore was earning his first Champions Day victory at Ascot in the sixth renewal of the event, guiding the 7-4 favourite to a half-length victory over Ribchester, with Lightning Spear a further length back in third.

Minding’s seven top-class triumphs have come over a range of distances and included victories this season in the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Sussex Stakes.

“It’s unbelievable, she’s an incredible filly. A filly who can get a mile and a half and then go and do that,” said O’Brien.

Champions Day winners
Long Distance Cup: Sheikhzayedroad 11-1 (Trainer David Simcock, jockey Martin Harley)
Sprint Stakes: The Tin Man 13-2 (James Fanshawe, Tom Queally)
Fillies and Mares Stakes: Journey 4-1 (John Gosden, Frankie Dettori)
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes: Minding 7-4 favourite (Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore)
Champion Stakes: Almanzor 11-8 favourite (Jean Claude Roget, Christophe Soumillon)
Balmoral Handicap: Yuften 12-1 (Roger Charlton, Andrea Atzeni)

Frankel’s jockey Queally celebrating again

Tom Queally

Four years after guiding unbeaten Frankel to the last of 14 victories in his farewell race on Champions Day, Queally was among the winners again.

The jockey had long stated that The Tin Man, trained by James Fanshawe for the Fred Archer Racing syndicate, was capable of winning a Group One race and he was proved right.

Queally said the years since Frankel’s retirement had been difficult, but compared his fortunes to playing poker.

“I was dealt the best hand of all time a few years ago, but I know I am capable of playing a hand if getting it,” he said,

Dettori, who recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of his ‘Magnificent Seven’ at Ascot, treated racegoers in the warm autumnal sunshine to a trademark flying dismount after victory aboard Journey.

Last year’s runner-up went one better to win by four lengths from Speedy Boarding, with O’Brien’s favourite Seventh Heaven fifth after enduring a troubled passage under Ryan Moore.

“I couldn’t believe her turn of foot. She picked up like she had rollerskates,” said the winning jockey.

Sheikhzayedroad caused a surprise with an 11th career victory in the opening Long Distance Cup as O’Brien’s odds-on-favourite Order Of St George could only finish fourth.

The 11-1 shot, ridden by Martin Harley for trainer David Simcock, saw off the challenge of Quest For More, with the 2015 St Leger winner Simple Verse in third.

‘Proud’ Crowley lifts title

Josephine Gordon

Jim Crowley was crowned champion jockey for the first time, while Josephine Gordon took the leading apprentice honour.

Crowley, 38, had been a 66-1 outsider at the start of the season and saw off the challenge of 2015 winner Silvestre de Sousa with a total of 148 winners.

“I’m so proud to be champion. It’s beyond my wildest dreams and hopefully my kids will be proud of me,” said the father-of-three.

Crowley, who broke the record for the most winners in a month when claiming 46 in September, was presented with the trophy by Olympic showjumping gold medallist Nick Skelton.

Gordon, 23, is only the third woman to be champion apprentice, following on from Hayley Turner (2005) and Amy Ryan (2012).

“For next year, my agent and I have planned for me to try to ride 100 winners,” said Gordon, who chalked up her 50th victory of the 2016 championship campaign at Newcastle on Friday night.


BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

“Almanzor is now the champion of Europe after this decisive confirmation of Irish Champion Stakes form with arch-rival Found, who was runner-up again – and for the second year running in this – though the two-length margin here was more decisive.

“When you consider Minding was third in that race in Ireland, Almanzor’s position at the top really is cemented.

“That those three – and plenty more – were at Ascot demonstrates how much depth there was to probably the best ever flat racing day in Britain.”

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