IT'S the final day of the flat season and our resident racing expert Alan Thomson takes us through the card at the Qipco Meeting at Ascot with six selections to beat the bookies.
CRACKSMAN (3.50) can put the finishing touches to an excellent three-year-old campaign by bagging the Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes at a wet and windy Ascot.
John Gosden's colt was beaten a neck by Capri in the Irish Derby following his third to Wings Of Eagles in the Investec Derby at Epsom.
He has developed physically through the summer and Frankie Dettori steered him to a six-length victory in the Great Voltigeur at York before Cracksman mopped up the Prix Niel at Chantilly. He is going from strength to strength and should cope with the drop in trip on this sodden ground.
Barney Roy, pipped by Ulysses in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and later third to Ulysses and Churchill in the Juddmonte International at York, can provide stern opposition but Cracksman is readily preferred.
Brametot, winner of the French 2000 Guineas and Derby, will find 10f more suitable than the longer Arc distance, although he was far from disgraced at Chantilly.
BEAT THE BANK (3.15) wins a narrow vote over Ribchester in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Andrew Balding's three-year-old has been beaten only once in six starts and thumped Sir John Lavery and subsequent winner Jallota when last seen in a Group 2 contest at Newmarket.
Ribchester had a rare old tussle with Minding before emerging second-best 12 months ago and must go well with underfoot conditions in his favour.
Richard Fahey's four-year-old won the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot but was slightly disappointing, admittedly on desperate ground, when beaten by Here Comes When in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
Churchill, favourite in all 11 career starts, has been off the boil this summer, finishing seventh to Decorated Knight at Leopardstown. Aidan O'Brien's dual Guineas winner could manage only fourth to Barney Roy at Royal Ascot but write off that man O'Brien at your peril.
The Ballydoyle maestro has a good chance of lifting the fillies and mares contest with HYDRANGEA (2.40) at decent odds.
The three-year-old was beaten a head by stablemate Rhododendron at Chantilly (soft) and had the speed to edge out O'Brien's brilliant Winter in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last month.
This will by Hydrangea's first attempt at 12 furlongs, so there are risks attached, but the daughter of Galileo may have the measure of last year's easy winner Journey. More recently, John Gosden's filly has more than two lengths to make up on French challenger Bateel (formerly trained by David Simcock) on their running in the Prix Vermeille at Chantilly, but Journey has always come into her own at this time of the season.
HARRY ANGEL (2.00) is trading at short odds but can stamp his authority over some crack sprinters.
He made a mockery of pre-race fears that heavy ground at Haydock would blunt his speed in the 32Red Sprint Cup, bowling along in front and pulling four lengths clear. The Darley July Cup winner will be extremely hard to beat if reproducing that explosive run.
Quiet Reflection won in grand style in Ireland and has got her ground. Under these attritional conditions she may pose more of a threat than Caravaggio and last year’s winner The Tin Man.
Order Of St George will be all the rage for the Long Distance Cup, but he finished fourth to Sheikzayedroad last year when sent off at prohibitive odds.
STRADIVARIUS (1.25) is a plausible each-way alternative following his excellent third to Capri in the William Hill St Leger, backing up a superb victory over Big Orange in the Qatar Goodwood Cup.
This will be the deepest ground he has yet encountered, so there is an element of guesswork involved.
Big Orange will be seriously inconvenienced by the soft ground and Order of St George is likely to be ridden more prominently than last year when caught quite far out of his ground rounding the home bend.
Sheikzayedroad will be one of the few to revel in the mud and could be the surprise packet once again this year.
LORD GLITTERS (4.30) has been a notable gamble to land the fiercely competitive Balmoral Handicap.
The ex-French gelding ran a cracker on his first start for David O’Meara, chasing home Accidental Agent a fortnight ago, and his sire Whipper revelled in the mud. Hopefully, stall three isn’t an inconvenience on the far side of the track.