It's British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday (1.20-4.15) with a classy six-race card boasting a quartet of Group 1 races, headlined by the Qipco Champion Stakes at 3.40.
Magical will attempt to emulate Twice Over and Cracksman, the only winners to defend the crown since the turn of this century, but Aidan O'Brien's mare faces a ten-strong field gunning for her crown.
Read on to find out which runner gets Enda McElhinney’s vote, but first let’s review the latest odds.
Ascot, Saturday 3.40 – Champion Stakes odds
Odds are correct at the time of publication and are subject to change. Odds courtesy of Betfair.
- Magical - 7/4
- Mishriff - 11/4
- Lord North - 6/1
- Addeybb - 8/1
- Skaletti - 10/1
- Japan - 12/1
- Pyledriver - 12/1
- Serpentine - 12/1
- Desert Encounter - 66/1
- Extra Elusive - 66/1
- San Donato - 66/1
Ascot: Champion Stakes betting tips 2020
Odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change.
Ascot: Champion Stakes tips
Magical can defend her crown
Magical has been successful on British Champions Day for the last two seasons - winning the Fillies & Mares in 2018 before landing this contest 12 months ago - and the Ballydoyle mare is a warm order to retain this crown.
On the face of it, she fully deserves her position at the head of the betting and it looks a strong possibility she will prevail again.
Retirement appeared to beckon for the Galileo mare after her gutsy success from the re-opposing Addeybb in this contest last year, before the Coolmore think-tank had a change of heart and elected to keep her in training. What a handsome reward they have gained for that decision.
She has bagged three further Group 1 wins this season - increasing her tally to seven overall - and, on foot of Enable's retirement this week, can now lay claim to being the best mare in training on these islands.
Her only defeat this season came when coming second to the world's top-rated horse Ghaiyyath in the Juddmonte International at York in August.
That reverse was avenged in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last month as the O'Brien runner eye-balled the pacesetting Godolphin juggernaut from flagfall and outbattled him for a fully merited success, with subsequent Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sottsass back in fourth.
That's strong form and as she's already a dual Group 1 winner on soft ground, including in this last year. Ground conditions are unlikely to be used as an excuse should Magical fail to fire at Ascot.
She has the form in the book and her sex allowance puts her at an advantage over the likes of the re-opposing Addeybb and French raider Skalleti, whilst only conceding 1lb to the promising three-year-old Mishriff. Magical by name and magical by nature, she can emulate previous winner Cracksman in retaining this £425,325 prize and maintaining her perfect record at this meeting.
Addeybb for bridesmaid role again
This contest could have a very familiar feel to it in the closing stages. The William Haggas-trained Addeybb came out of the pack to be Magical's closest pursuer last year and looks to be one of the biggest threats again. At six years old he is arguably in better form than at any stage in his career.
He banked successive Group 1 wins in Australia back in the spring, striking up a good relationship with Tom Marquand in doing so, and returned to British shores with a runner-up finish behind Lord North in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at the Royal Meeting here in June.
Good ground prevailed that afternoon and, given his clear preference for some dig underfoot, plenty will anticipate Addeybb turning that defeat around.
He won a Listed race at Ayr in preparation for this assignment and should go well again but he might be cast in a minor role now with Lord North perhaps the main threat to Magical.
Gosden's double-handed challenge
John Gosden earned successive wins with Cracksman in 2017 and 2018 - the first successes for the Clarehaven supremo in this race - and he's got a double handful this year via improving three-year-old Mishriff and the aforementioned Prince Of Wales's winner Lord North.
French Derby winner Mishriff landed a heavy-ground Deauville Group 2 over this distance on his most recent start in August and is a fast-improving colt.
Frankie Dettori's mount is in the mix and gets an allowance on his age, but stepping into all-age Group 1 company for the first time, he's only in receipt of a pound from Magical and might find his progress briefly stunted in this line-up.
Lord North, who was behind Magical at York on his only run since winning over C&D in June, should not be overlooked in haste.
While Addeybb should fancy this slower surface, it's worth recalling that Lord North was a gallant second to Escobar in the Balmoral Handicap (one-mile) on similar ground at this meeting a year ago before ending his campaign with a decisive Newmarket victory over this trip on heavy November ground.
Conditions won't faze the four-year-old and he put Addeybb away in ready fashion in June, while his subsequent York run saw him within a length and a quarter of Magical. He's due plenty of respect and might well be second best on the day.
Of the remainder, Japan hasn't looked himself this year, while stablemate Serpentine failed to match his Epsom Derby heroics in France last month and, like Mishriff, has it all on to win this as a three-year-old.
The third of the Classic generation is Pyledriver, who could be inconvenienced back over a mile and a quarter after his near miss in last month's St Leger. French raider Skalleti beat Sottsass in August and is worth a second glance, but seemingly has a bit to find with the best of these on paper.
Champion Stakes winners of the last 10 years
The Champion Stakes was transferred to Ascot in 2011 having previously been raced at Newmarket.
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