The Champion Stakes concludes the Group action for the afternoon on Champions Day a Group 1 affair contested over a mile and two furlongs and it see’s yes, another John Gosden hotpot heading affairs with Cracksman (10/11) making his return to attempt to retain his crown from last season in what will be his last hurrah. The Frankel offspring won this race in devastating fashion last season but things haven’t gone quite as expected since this season. He won in commanding fashion on his return to the track in Group 1 company in France but followed up in the Coronation Stakes at Epsom when scrambling home to just get up on the line. He was last seen when looking rather laboured here at the Royal Meeting when getting comfortably beaten by Poet’s Word. He tries blinkers out here and a bit of cut in the ground could well see him return to best effect. Frankie is once again on board. The betting suggests that Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean (11/4) is the main danger and he’s had a positive season by all accounts. He was no match for the returning Enable last time out but was denied close home in the King George and won well at the Royal Meeting here. William Buick is reunited with him for this assignment.
The 2017 St Leger winner Capri (13/2) takes his place in the field following a fine run when fifth in the Arc the last day and Aidan O’Brien is also represented here by Rhododendron (40/1) in what looks to be her last time out on track too. Ryan Moore will take the ride on Capri with Donnacha teaming up with Rhododendron. Monarch’s Glen (14/1) takes the step up in Grade here following a progressive season for the Gosden yard whereas Verbal Dexterity (20/1) comes here on somewhat of a recovery mission but looks up against for Jim Bolger. Maverick Wave (100/1) and Subway Dancer (100/1) make up the field.
I’d love to see Cracksman put in a dominant display here and bow out in style and he’s got every chance of doing just that but his odds are far too short for my liking with the amount of questions hanging over him. Crystal Ocean has been a solid performer at the top level this season without actually winning a Group 1, his time could well be in this. I’m going to take a chance on one at a slightly bigger price though in the hope the eight runners stay intact (which means they most definitely wont) and chance CAPRI here. He’s progressed with each run since his lay off and ran a great race in the Arc last time. He’s got to come on again to challenge the big two in the betting but he’s a good enough each way alternative for me.
CAPRI (13/2) (E/W)