10/16/2014 10:51AM

G Force meets Gordon Lord Byron in British Champions Sprint

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G Force (right), trained by David O’Meara, wins the Betfred Sprint Cup over Gordon Lord Byron.

The damage is done. Days of rain have left Ascot Racecourse with soft to heavy conditions in advance of Saturday’s QIPCO British Champions Day.

That could play in the favor of surface specialists for the day’s two seven-figure Group 1 races – the Champions Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – and three other Group 1 or Group 2 races on the program.

Throughout the week, there have been defections from the list of contenders because of the weather. On Wednesday, Lightning Moon was withdrawn from consideration for the $560,000 British Champions Sprint Stakes over six furlongs. His absence leaves a field of 17 led by G Force, an Irish-bred 3-year-old who scored a breakthrough performance Sept. 6 in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock Park, the colt’s first start in a Group 1 race over six furlongs.

G Force, who typically runs from off the pace, is trained by David O’Meara and will be ridden by Daniel Tudhope. His toughest rival is Gordon Lord Byron, who makes a quick turnaround after a second to Olympic Glory in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp Racecourse in Paris on Oct. 5. Jack Dexter, second in this race last year under soft conditions, is a contender but was only eighth of 20 in the Ayr Gold Cup in Scotland on Sept. 20.

:: QIPCO Champions Day: Get free PPs

The most popular horse on the undercard has royal connections. Estimate, a 5-year-old Irish-bred mare trained by Michael Stoute, is owned by the queen of England.

Estimate, the winner of the 2013 Gold Cup at the Royal Ascot meeting, is a leading contender in the $480,000 British Champions Long Distance Cup over two miles, which is sure to be a stamina test in Saturday’s conditions.

Estimate won the Group 2 Doncaster Cup over 2 1/4 miles Sept. 12 in her most recent start. She was second to Leading Light in the Ascot Gold Cup in June but was disqualified from the purse after testing positive for morphine – a case considered accidental contamination.

Leading Light, trained by Aidan O’Brien, will be a heavy favorite in the nine-runner Long Distance Cup. A 4-year-old colt by Montjeu, Leading Light was second to Brown Panther in the Group 1 Irish St. Leger on Sept. 14. Brown Panther is a candidate for Sunday’s Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine.

There is no standout in the $880,000 British Champions Filly and Mare Stakes over 1 1/2 miles.

Seal of Approval won the 2013 running on soft turf but is winless in four starts this year. She was fourth Sept. 11 in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster behind Silk Sari, a contender in the Filly and Mare Stakes.

The race includes Albasharah, who won a listed stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf Oct. 11 at Newmarket; Chicquita, who won the Group 1 Irish Oaks in July but was 15th in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 5; and Hadaatha, a rapidly improving filly who was third in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera on the Arc undercard.

Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
G Force is a freak. I believe he rolls here.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Excellent sprint coming up. Go G Force! Cirrus Des Aigles will be super tough on soft ground in the Champions, and Estimate should win the Long distance cup.