Frankel, in what is expected to be the final start of his remarkable unbeaten career, Cirrus des Aigles and Nathaniel are all set to contest Europe’s richest 10-furlong race, the £1.3 million QIPCO Champion Stakes (4.05pm), at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday 20th October, which could make it one of the highest-rated races this century.
German raider Pastorius was also confirmed and is set to take his chance for trainer Mario Hofer.
FRANKEL – the highest-rated horse in the world on 140 and perhaps the greatest thoroughbred of all time.
Unbeaten in 13 races for owner Khalid Abdulla, trainer Sir Henry Cecil and jockey Tom Queally, his most recent victory was by an easy seven lengths in the 10-furlong Juddmonte International (G.1) at York in August, the first time that the four-year-old had raced beyond a mile.
That performance earned him a rating of 140, as did his 11 length victory over Excelebration in the Queen Anne Stakes (G.1) over a mile at Royal Ascot in June, making him the first horse ever to achieve a 140 rating twice in his career. Last year he won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G.1) over a mile on QIPCO British Champions Day, while this time he will contest the QIPCO Champion Stakes (G.1) over 10 furlongs, chasing his 14th career victory and his ninth successive Group 1 triumph in what is expected to be the final start of his glittering racing career.
In all he has won eight QIPCO British Champions Series races (no other horse has won more than two since the Series was created), but at Ascot he is likely to have his biggest test so far against the second and joint third highest-rated racehorses in the world so far this year.
- ￼13 career starts: 13 wins
- 9 Group 1 starts: 9 wins
- Career earnings: £2,261,072
CIRRUS DES AIGLES – late developer and the second highest-rated horse on 130 behind Frankel in the 2012 World Thoroughbred Rankings (went up by two pounds following his Prix Dollar victory on 6 October).
Brilliant winner of last year’s QIPCO Champion Stakes (G.1) for French trainer Corine Barande-Barbe, defeating So You Think, Snow Fairy, Midday and Nathaniel to record his first Group 1 victory at the age of five.
Added two more top level races this year, the 12- furlong Dubai Sheema Classic (G.1) at Meydan in March, defeating multiple Group 1 winner St Nicholas Abbey, and the 11-furlong Prix Ganay (G.1) at Longchamp in April by an easy eight lengths from Group 1 winners Giofra, Reliable Man and Wigmore Hall. Hacked up by nine lengths in the 10-furlong Prix Dollar (G.2) at Longchamp on 6 October following four months on the sidelines after an ankle injury and a drugs inquiry, which saw him disqualified (currently under appeal) from second place in the nine-furlong Prix d’Ispahan (G.1) in May.
The six-year-old gelding is reported to be in great shape for the defence of his QIPCO Champion Stakes crown.
- ￼44 career starts: 16 wins, 16 seconds, 5 thirds, (7 unplaced)
- 11 Group 1 starts: 3 wins, 3 seconds (later disqualified from one), 1 third, (4 unplaced)
- Career earnings: £3,822,900
NATHANIEL – joint third highest-rated horse in the 2012 World Thoroughbred Rankings on 126 for trainer John Gosden. Brilliant winner of the 12 furlong King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by Betfair) (G.1) at Ascot in July 2011.
Nose runner-up to Danedream in the same race in 2012, just prior to which he had won the 10-furlong Coral-Eclipse Stakes (G.1) at Sandown Park and after which he finished second to Snow Fairy in the 10- furlong Irish Champion Stakes (G.1).
Missed the 2011 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G.1) at Longchamp due to the fast ground and the 2012 edition due to illness, but now reported to be recovering quickly and on target for the QIPCO Champion Stakes (G.1) in which he finished fifth last year, 31⁄4 lengths behind Cirrus des Aigles on good ground (Nathaniel excels on softer ground).
In their first ever racecourse appearances, Nathaniel ran Frankel to half a length in a maiden at Newmarket in August 2010, the closest any horse has ever got to the world number one.
- ￼10 career starts: 4 wins, 5 seconds, (1 fifth)
- 4 Group 1 starts: 2 wins, 1 second, (1 fifth)
- Career earnings: £1,324,808
Other acceptors to note
The winners of all the main European Derbys are still engaged – Camelot (English and Irish), Saonois (French) and Pastorius (German). Camelot is highly unlikely to run after his seventh place in the Arc, but Saonois (eased when his chance in the Arc had gone) could run and Pastorius (who won his prep race in Germany on 3 October) is reported as a very likely contender.
The 1–2–3 from the Prix de l’Opera (G.1), Ridasiyna, Izzi Top and Giofra, all individual Group 1 winners, are entered, as is the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G.1) and dual Investec Coronation Cup (G.1) winner St Nicholas Abbey, although he was well beaten in the Arc last time out.
Pictured: 2012 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) winner Saonois