British Champions Day 2017 will be remembered for Aidan O'Brien equalling Bobby Frankel's record of 25 Group 1 winners - you can read my thoughts on that here - but a more interesting story might have been the participation and victory of Cracksman in the Champion Stakes. The obvious conclusion to draw from the result is that John Gosden got it right and everyone who said he should have run in the Arc got it wrong but such a view is riddled with hindsight bias.
Furthermore, there are far too many people in racing who tell us that the judgement of trainers is unimpeachable and that punters and fans have no right to question where a horse should run. For one, trainers may get it wrong - though Gosden is much less likely to do that than most - and also it's great fun to plan out in your own mind the races horses might be best suited by. Football fans don't get anything like as hard a time for questioning team selection!
Gosden may have gotten what he wanted in winning a pair of Group 1 races with his two best three-year-olds but it is hardly unreasonable to think that Cracksman's owner Anthony Oppenheimer would have preferred to win an Arc ahead of a Champion Stakes. Certainly racing would have benefitted from a clash between the two at Chantilly as it likely would have been the race of the season. The balance between what is right for trainer, owner and the overall health of the sport is difficult to strike and I am wary of those that will tell you that one should always be privileged over the other. It is surely more complicated than that.
Leopardstown 15:30 - Oppose favourite with Kenya/Guessthebill combo
Despite being the clear pick on official ratings, Bye Bye Baby looks a favourite to oppose in the Killavullan. This drop in trip is against her while she got the run of the race from the front last time at Navan, controlling things from an early stage. Her stablemate Kenya has far more upside, his recent Cork win excellent on the clock, and it seems likely that Donnacha O'Brien has had the pick of the two. I would have him favourite and he is worth backing.
Guessthebill is also worth a bet, albeit more in the place. He posted a career-best in the Birdcatcher last Sunday over a trip that looked patently too sharp and there could be an even better effort in him now returned to seven furlongs.
Leopardstown 16:00 - Cannonball a solid pick in weak field
Quite a few of these aren't up to this level and Cannonball is the right favourite who should be shorter. His close-up fourth in the Enterprise Stakes here stands out as the best form and it was on going faster than ideal. This rain-softened surface is much more his thing and while it was disappointing he couldn't beat Detailed at Limerick last time, she is a filly on top of her game at present and the third has won since. Detailed was below-par when tipped up in this column last Sunday but the race may have come too soon and if anything Cannonball may be suited by this drop in distance with how he travelled last time.
Leopardstown 16:30 - Mile trip suits Avalanche best
Avalanche has been utterly consistent in 2017, out of the four just once in nine starts, and when you hone in on his runs over a mile his record this year looks even better, reading:31123. He is back over that trip today having had three of his last four outings over seven furlongs which I am hoping has masked his improvement a little in a race where few appeal as well-treated. The form of his last run at Killarney worked out well and provided he has not gone over the top, he can get involved at the finish. In a race where the front end of the market looks vulnerable, his biggest danger could be the ageless Beau Satchel.
Leopardstown 17:00 - Cesarewitch eye-catcher an intriguing class dropper
The progressive The Last Indian is the one beat here but he is taking a rise in class here along with trying a new trip on the flat so Grand Partner looks a better bet at the prices. Unlike the favourite, he is dropping in class having finished seventh in the Irish Cesarewitch earlier in the month and there was plenty to like about that effort; he did best of the hold-up horses in a race that was slowly-run and travelled notably well before failing to get home. It is possible this trip is on the sharp side for him but there is plenty of predicted pace and he has a fine record at this track both on the flat and over jumps.
1 Point Back Kenya @ 4.03/1 or bigger in the Leopardstown 15:30
0.5 Point Back Guessthebill @ 20.019/1 or bigger in the Leopardstown 15:30
1 Point Place Back Guessthebill @ 4.47/2 or bigger in the Leopardstown 15:30
1 Point Back Cannonball @ 2.89/5 or bigger in the Leopardstown 16:00
0.5 Point Back Avalanche @ 13.012/1 or bigger in the Leopardstown 16:30
0.5 Point Place Back Avalanche @ 4.03/1 or bigger in the Leopardstown 16:30
0.5 Point Back Grand Partner @ 15.014/1 or bigger in the Leopardstown 17:00
0.5 Point Place Back Grand Partner @ 4.57/2 or bigger in the Leopardstown 17:00
2017 P+L: -0.3 points