Champions Day: Three battles to look forward to

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Some interesting clashes are set to take place at Ascot on Saturday

Timeform look ahead to three interesting battles that are set to take place at Ascot on Saturday

"...she could be hard to peg back in the straight if given another cute ride by Dettori..."

Timeform on Star Catcher

Battle of the three-year-olds in the Champions Sprint?

Three-year-olds have an indifferent record in the Champions Sprint, with Sands of Mali's all-the-way success 12 months ago being just a third for the classic generation since 2010. Richard Fahey's charge is back for more this time around but has a bit to prove, and the market is currently struggling to choose a favourite out of Advertise and Hello Youmzain.

It was the former who came out on top when the pair met in the Commonwealth Cup over this C&D at the Royal meeting, and he has since put a lesser effort in the July Cup behind him to win the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last time, beating Brando by a neck. Hello Youmzain has also tasted Group 1 success in the Sprint Cup at Haydock - a race that Advertise had to miss after scoping dirty - last month, dispensing of several reopposing rivals in good style, always holding on despite edging left inside the final furlong.

Hello Youmzain has around one-and-a-half lengths to make up on Advertise on their previous form, but you could argue that Hello Youmzain arrives with the more solid profile, especially as he has less to prove on the ground. For those reasons, it is Kevin Ryan's charge who is taken to come out on top in the match bet.

Epsom Oaks winner vs Irish Oaks winner!

The strength in depth that John Gosden has among his three-year-old fillies this year is remarkable, mopping up the Oaks on either side of the Irish Sea with Anapurna and Star Catcher, while Mehdaayih was also an impressive winner of the Cheshire Oaks, before going on to add a Group 2 success in the Prix de Malleret at Saint-Cloud to her tally.

Anapurna was deliberately given a break after her success at Epsom, with a back-end campaign in mind, and that plan has so far paid dividends after she won another Group 1 in the Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp on Arc weekend over a mile-and-three quarters. She came up short against her stablemate Star Catcher in the Prix Vermeille the time before, but that was her first start for three months, so it is best not to judge her too harshly on that.

However, Star Catcher, the current antepost favourite with Betfair Exchange punters, has looked the real deal since stepped up to a mile-and-a-half, making all to win her last two starts in Group 1 company, her attitude looking a real asset. She won her maiden on soft ground at Newbury, so the easier conditions here shouldn't be much of an issue, and she could be hard to peg back in the straight if given another cute ride by Dettori.

Up-and-coming French miler against a globetrotting star!

The three-year-old miling division has lacked a superstar this season, and as a result, this doesn't look the classiest renewal of the QEII. However, it does look competitive, and the two that come to the fore are The Revenant and Benbatl. Both arrive on the back on impressive wins, the former notching a six-timer in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp last time, while Benbatl blew the cobwebs away with an all-the-way success in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket.

Of the two, it has been The Revenant who has attracted the most support, backed into favouritism as conditions continued to worsen at Ascot. You could argue he is a little tight in the market now, but such was the manner of his success last time, it is hard to gauge where his ceiling is. The four-year-old hasn't looked back since undergoing a gelding operating in the off-season and will have no problem with the forecast heavy ground.

That is where the concerns for Benbatl's claims arise, as he is unproven when the mud is flying, and all of his best form has come on a sound surface. Also, it will be much harder for him to dominate from the outset at this stiffer track, especially in the conditions, and that is another notch in favour of The Revenant.

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