Ryan Moore: Exclusive thoughts on my British Champions Day rides at Ascot
The British Flat season concludes on Saturday afternoon with a stunning card at Ascot for Champions Day, and here with his views on all of his six rides is Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore...
"Capri beat Crystal Ocean in one of the better St Legers of recent years last season, as well as seeing off Cracksman in the Irish Derby, and you had to be delighted with his fifth in the Arc last time after an interrupted campaign."
- Ryan Moore on Capri
Soft ground levels the playing field slightly
13:25 - Flag Of Honour
Stradivarius has been exceptional all year and will obviously be hard to beat but the soft ground probably gives the rest of us a better chance of getting the better of him. That said, it probably isn't ideal for Flag Of Honour either, as his recent progression has come on a sound surface. But he does have form in testing conditions and you had to be impressed by the manner in which he beat Latrobe in the Irish St Leger. Hopefully, the extra 2f and softer ground won't be an issue here and we can give the favourite a race.
Aidan also had Sir Erec and Cypress Creek in here; Sir Erec looked very good when showing much improved form to beat some fair yardsticks over 1m4f at Limerick last weekend and is a coming force who could well be on the premises if staying, while Cypress Creek also showed his best form to date when winning over 2m at Naas last time.
Tough task for my horse but it's a wide open sprint
14:00 - Dream Of Dreams
He probably hasn't enjoyed the rub of the green on a few occasions this season, but he has run to a consistently high level in defeat, most recently behind Projection over course and distance last time. He is a fair bit shy of the likes of Harry Angel and The Tin Man on form but if he runs his race - and he clearly handles soft very well - then hopefully he will be in the shake-up again. He is obviously up against it on what we have seen so far, though.
The Tin Man is probably the one to beat but this is a very open race and you can make a case for a fair few.
Librisa Breeze hasn't been running up to his best this season but the return to Ascot over 6f on soft ground could well see him follow up his win in this last year, and the runner-up Tasleet is solid in this grade, as is Brando. Harry Angel obviously has big questions to answer but he'd win if back to his best. He has run some good races in defeat at Ascot, so I wouldn't be worried about the track for him. But it's wide open.
Unexposed at the trip and on her way back to her best
14:40 - Magical
It's a good renewal, with Lah Ti Dar, Kitesurf and Coronet all setting a good standard. Lah Ti Dar ran well in the St Leger and I think she is the right favourite, and could prove hard to beat.
I ride Magical and I thought she did really well from her wide draw in the Arc, coming home nicely on the outside from well off the pace on her first attempt over 1m4f. She is well worth another go at this trip, especially with the ground more in her favour than at Longchamp, though I suppose one negative of the testing conditions is that it will put more emphasis on stamina.
She had earlier won her Group 2 well, and finished a really good fourth in the Matron when hampered late on, and that level of form doesn't put her far behind the market principals. This is only two weeks after Longchamp, but she is unexposed over the distance and could be coming back to the kind of filly we thought she would be at the start of the season.
Aidan has another five in here and Hydrangea has obviously disappointed since a satisfactory comeback run in May, not showing her true form at all on fast ground at Royal Ascot or in the King George last time. But she has been given a nice break since the end of July and clearly Aidan will be hoping that the return to soft ground will see her show her true colours. She beat a Group 1 mudlover when seeing off Bateel in this race last year, and she won't be far away if running to that level here.
My filly could run a lot better than most people expect
15:15 - Happily
She was obviously a dual Group 1 winner on soft ground at two, and I think she has gone a bit under the radar this season despite a series of good efforts in the top grade. She has run consistently well since finishing third in the 1,000 Guineas first time up, and ran her best race of the campaign when just failing to haul back Laurens in the Sun Chariot last time. The softer ground here and stiff mile will be in her favour and, while she clearly has something to find form-wise, it wouldn't surprise me if she ran a lot better than people may be expecting against much higher-rated horses.
Roaring Lion will be hard to beat. The ground and the draw may not be ideal for him but he has a big class edge over this field. If he doesn't run his race, then this is very open, with a lot of these having chances. I thought Lightning Spear would go well, but maybe the ground isn't ideal for him.
A peak Cracksman the one to beat
15:50 - Capri
If the same Cracksman turns up that beat Poet's Word by seven lengths in this race last season, then I imagine he wins, doesn't he? The ground has come in his favour but we haven't seen him since Royal Ascot and the first-time blinkers are obviously an unknown. I think people are probably being a bit too hard on him for his form earlier in the season, though, as his only defeat came against a subsequent King George winner.
That said, the official ratings tell you that Crystal Ocean, who will be helped by the ground at this trip, will give him a race, even if Cracksman is at his best and you can make an argument that he should be favourite here. He got a lot closer to Poet's Word in the King George than Cracksman did in the Prince Of Wales's, he shaped well behind Enable at Kempton and is just a very solid horse.
I wouldn't be in a rush to rule out Capri, either. Capri beat Crystal Ocean in one of the better St Legers of recent years last season, as well as seeing off Cracksman in the Irish Derby, and you had to be delighted with his fifth in the Arc last time after an interrupted campaign. The step down to 1m2f is the question mark for him - we also had the option for Long Distance Cup for him - but he won over it on his reappearance, and the soft ground is in his favour. You can reasonably expect him to run his best of the season here.
Monarchs Glen looked good when winning the Wolferton under a penalty, though I think he is up against it in this grade, and if there is to be a big upset then Verbal Dexterity could be the one to provide it. He looked a very good horse when winning the National Stakes last season.
A decent shot in a wide open handicap
16:30 - Via Via
He had some solid soft-ground form earlier in the season, including when sixth in the Lincoln off this mark, and he has run two excellent races since the blinkers were fitted, most obviously when third in the Cambridgeshire last time. However, his earlier second to Argentello was franked at Kempton earlier in the week, too.
The 2lb rise for the Cambridgeshire run looks fair and he clearly handles this softer ground, too, so you have to give him a decent shot in a wide-open handicap. There doesn't look to be a Lord Glitters-type in here, so I imagine a few will be fancying their chances.