Ryan Moore is a surprise booking for Ruler Of The World in the Champion Stakes, plus best bets for Wincanton and Brighton
Today's best bets, by Chris Cook
The final declarations are out for Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday, with the immediate point of interest being the fact that Ryan Moore is aboard Ruler Of The World in the Champion Stakes, rather than Hillstar. It appears that Sir Michael Stoute has let him off Hillstar, so that he can maintain his association with the Aidan O'Brien-trained Derby winner. If you'd backed Hillstar, you'd have to be worried about that, though Richard Hughes is a pretty darned good substitute.
Perhaps it's a one-off arrangement that has no significance for future riding contracts. Moore has yet to offer public comment but I don't imagine for a moment that he would be rash enough to do a Dettori and jump ship without making sure the boss was OK with it.
The fields for Champions Day have held up pretty well, despite the prospect of soft going, with an average of 11 runners in the Group races. The withdrawals were widely predicted: Toronado, Sky Lantern, Declaration Of War, Magician, Sole Power and Trading Leather are the most significant.
There has been a further 1mm of rain at Ascot this morning and the going remains soft all round. The rest of today is expected to be dry but showers are forecast tomorrow and on Saturday.
Here are the declared runners for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes:
Gordon Lord Byron
Soft Falling Rain
Top Notch Tonto
And here are those entered for the Champion Stakes:
Cirrus Des Aigles
Ruler Of The World
You can see declarations for all Saturday's Flat races here.
I like the look of the QEII. The Champion Stakes, I'm afraid, has not attracted the sort of field that the prize money deserves. Still, that's what happens when the ground turns at this time of year: the fast, flashy animals don't turn up.
But it seems there is no prospect of moving Champions Day to an earlier point in the year, so we're just going to have to keep hoping for unseasonably dry weather for Ascot in mid-October. Jumps fans will simultaneously be hoping for plenty of rain in the West Country, so that Cheltenham's first autumn fixture can offer safe, spongey ground on the same weekend.
Cheltenham's two-day meeting starts tomorrow. To tide us over, there's Wincanton this afternoon, when I think Sugar Hiccup (2.20) has an excellent chance of extending her winning run to four.
Sugar Hiccup is another of those Jim Best-trained beasts who showed nothing in novice hurdles, was given a break and then showed dramatic improvement in handicaps. Best is not uniformly popular among punters but at least we should all be familiar with the fact that his horses do sometimes follow this kind of career arc.
Eventually, arcs return to earth, of course, and Sugar Hiccup will be beaten one day soon. She has been raised 33lb, more than two stones, since the first of her three recent wins, on 22 August, and it is hard to believe she can still have anything in hand.
But she has had a month off since her last outing and should again be ready to put in her maximum effort. The runner-up that day has since won from a 5lb higher mark, while the third was beaten 20 lengths.
Sugar Hiccup really might be able to win again from a mark 8lb higher than last time. The market will be wary because Tony McCoy, who has such a great record for Best and was aboard for all three of the mares' wins, has gone to Uttoxeter today. The ride passes to Tom Scudamore, but he also has a good record for the yard (nine winners at 19% over five seasons) and I like their chances at the current 5-1.
The favourite is Buckthorn Tom, from the Colin Tizzard yard that has yet to hit its stride. Tizzard is 0/16 in October so far.
McCoy has a couple of good rides at Uttoxeter, notably Foundation Man (4.30), making his chase debut in a novice handicap. He has always had the look of a chaser and has the family connections for this game, as well, being a half-brother to Captain Chris and a son of Function Dream, who won the Victor Chandler and beat Flagship Uberalles in the Game Spirit.
Foundation Man has been handicapped on his hurdles form and should have plenty in hand if ready to go today. Still, at 5-2, the bookies are not giving much away and it's a pity the going has gone soft.
Flat racing tips, by Greg Wood
The going will be soft for the final afternoon of the season at Brighton and one of the shortest-priced horses of the year, too, in the opening maiden, but the bulk of the card is competitive, with a couple of very open handicaps later in the afternoon.
Compton Bird (3.40) is up 8lb since winning over course and distance last week but did so in a style which suggested she stands every chance of following up. Smokey Oakey, a Group Three winner on soft ground in the past, has fallen a long way in the weights since then and will be a danger, but it was good to soft here last week and Hans Adielsson's four-year-old coped impressively.
Sword Of The Lord (4.10) won at the same meeting and should also follow up in the next, while Hamis Al Bin (4.40) is a big price for a horse with a course and distance success this year who has now dropped back to his winning mark that day.
Tipping competition, day four
Our winners so far:
Layla's Oasis 22-1
Eric The Grey 11-1
Embsay Crag 10-1
Dom Lukka 5-2
Ty Gwr 12-1
Grandads Horse 2-1
The Great Gabrial 5-1
And our leader is:
… who is plainly not interested in tipping winners at 6-1 or shorter and struck out yesterday, as, indeed, did his only near pursuers, 15244 (+27) and ID3220887 (+25). 23skidoo (+13) had a double.
Today, we'd like your selections, please, for these races: 3.40 Brighton, 3.50 Wincanton, 4.00 Uttoxeter.
This week's prize is a copy of Timeform's Chasers & Hurdlers annual, the much-loved and lovingly produced book which serves as a complete record of the last jumps season (and, hopefully, offers some insights into the new one). Costing £75 if you actually pay for it, the latest annual is newly published and will shortly be reviewed on this site by m'colleague Tony Paley. You can buy a copy here or read a sample here.
As ever, our champion will be the tipster who returns the best profit to notional level stakes of £1 at starting price on our nominated races, of which there will be three each day up until Friday. Non-runners count as losers.
If you have not already joined in this week, you can do so today, but you will start on -9.
In the event of a tie at the end of the week, the winner will be the tipster who, from among those tied on the highest score, posted their tips earliest on the final day.
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Horse racing tips
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