Champions Day Placepot: Ascot, Saturday October 18

Aidan O'Brien's Leading Light has a massive chance
Aidan O'Brien's Leading Light has a massive chance

Ascot stages a fantastic Champions Day card and that is where we head for Saturday's attempt at the Placepot...

Gold Cup winner Leading Light is the class act in the opening contest and he should prove difficult to beat...

13:45- Gold Cup winner Leading Light is the class act in the opening contest and he should prove difficult to beat. Aidan O'Brien's charge boasts an excellent strike-rate - his only defeats came on debut, in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and when given too much to do last time - and conditions shouldn't prove a problem for the consistent stayer. Leading Light is, deservedly, sure to be carrying plenty of lines, so we will also add Whiplash Willie to the permutation as he is thoroughly effective when the mud is flying and comes here in good form having shaped better than the bare result in the Group 1 Prix du Cadran last time.

14:20- G Force is the one to beat on the back of his Sprint Cup success as that represents the best form on offer, however this stiff six furlongs on extremely testing ground will pose a different test, and it could be worth opposing him with a pair of horses sure to relish the stiff test. Jack Dexter finished runner-up in this last season, finding only Slade Power too strong, and he comes here on the back of a good effort under top weight in the Ayr Gold Cup. One place behind Jack Dexter last season was Viztoria, and it is worth keeping Eddie Lynam's unexposed filly onside again as she impressed when breezing to success at the Curragh on Sunday, while she is also proven on heavy ground.

14:55- This is undoubtedly competitive stuff but Silk Sari really impressed with the way in which she won at Doncaster and is the first horse that we will turn to. Like many from her yard, Silk Sari has improved with racing, making steady progress before relishing the step up in trip to blow away her rivals in the Park Hill. The emphasis on stamina will be in her favour here and she can put up a bold show on what is due to be her final racecourse appearance. Behind Silk Sari in fourth that day was Seal of Approval and she should put up a strong defence of her Fillies and Mares crown. Seal of Approval put up a clear career-best effort when storming to success on this card last year, handling conditions much better than her rivals, and her effectiveness on testing ground will stand her in good stead.

15:30- There are plenty in with a good chance in the QEII and it could pay to look beyond those at the head of the market. Tullius was trading at double-figure prices last night and that could prove to be generous as he comes into the race a fresh horse, proven on heavy ground and with a level of form that should ensure that he is competitive. Tullius made an encouraging return from a break when finishing fourth to Custom Cut in the Joel Stakes and that performance should have served its purpose of leaving him cherry-ripe for this race. It would be a mistake to underestimate the winner of the Joel Stakes, however, as Custom Cut has proven to be a most likeable type, showing a fantastic attitude to rattle up a five-timer, and heavy ground will be in his favour. 

16:05- Cirrus des Aigles won the 2011 Champion Stakes - the first to be staged at Ascot - and finished runner-up both seasons since, and he will surely go close again this year. The remarkable Cirrus des Aigles has shown that he is still capable of producing top-class form, memorably getting the better of Arc winner Treve in a ding-dong battle earlier in the campaign, and a recent run in the Prix Dollar (passed the post in first but was demoted) should have left him spot on. He is banker material to finish in the places. 

16:45- Both of John Gosden's runners, Cornrow and Maverick Wave, remain open to improvement and are worth including in the Placepot permutation despite failing to meet expectations in the Cambridgeshire. Cornrow was sent off as favourite for that prestigious race, and looked likely to go close for much of the way, impressing with the powerful manner in which he went through the race. He simply appeared not to stay, however, so dropping back a furlong should be in his favour and he isn't worth giving up on yet. Maverick Wave also disappointed in the Cambridgeshire, but his earlier fourth at Doncaster has worked out well, suggesting that he could still be well treated, and he has proven that he can handle dig in the ground. 

Recommendations:
13:45- 4, 6
14:20- 10, 16
14:55- 5, 6
15:30- 3, 7
16:05- 2
16:45- 17, 24
= 32 lines

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