In the first of a new series, we are going to be using the insight provided by TRC Global Rankings to look ahead to a big race run somewhere in the world each week. We trialled this idea with our Kentucky Derby Prep School series and also for last week’s Arc, in which the winner Waldgeist stood out as the all-important Value Pick.
This week, it is the G1 Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot that gets the treatment – and one horse stands out on our rankings whose form has the same profile as Waldgeist. As usual, we will focus on the horse with the highest win probability first as the Top Choice before revealing which horse interests the most from a betting perspective.
TOP CHOICE Magical
It is not difficult to fathom that Magical deserves to be the betting favourite for this ten-furlong contest. She has won an amazing seven Group races, including the G1 Qipco Irish Champion Stakes, the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup and the G1 Qipco British Champion Fillies & Mares Stakes on this card last year. She is equally effective at both ten and 12 furlongs and soft ground is no problem for her.
Magical’s connections stand up to the closest scrutiny. Her trainer, Aidan O’Brien, owner CoolmorePartners and sire Galileo are all former #1s in our classifications still very much at the top of their game, and jockey Donnacha O’Brien (Ryan Moore is in Australia) a world #26 who will surely be a top-five rider one day – if he can continue to win his battle with the weighing scales caused by his height.
Fifth in the Arc last time out, beaten ten lengths, Magical moved smoothly into the lead at the two-pole, showing she was still in really good form at this late stage of the season. She was second to the retired Crystal Ocean over the Champion course and distance at Royal Ascot in June, and merely reproducing that form should be good enough – unless one of her rivals improves like we think possible.
VALUE PICK Coronet
The projections made for each race by the TRC Global Rankings algorithm has Coronet as a strong second favourite to Magical; the numbers place her well above ante-post second-favourite Addeybb even though we acknowledge that one is improving.
But this was an easy one for the Rankings algorithm. Coronet’s jockey, Frankie Dettori, trainer JohnGosden and sire Dubawi are all #1 in our rankings at present, and Coronet’s form stands up to the closest scrutiny.
She was beaten only a length by Magical at this meeting last year, coming from well off the pace. Fair play to Magical; she was the better filly then and probably still is now, but Coronet may well be one to emulate the age-related improvement which led us to put up Waldgeist at 131/10 odds last week.
Connections in the Northern Hemisphere have caught on to the benefits of keeping top-class horses in training for longer in the last decade or so. We saw an example of how they are thinking with this week’s announcement that dual Arc heroine Enable would race on for another season.
Just as Waldgeist’s form suggested that he had improved physically as a 5-year-old, so too does Coronet’s.
In the filly’s case, her improvement has not been captured by form ratings like the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings because those numbers are limited by approximating a horse’s class by only the differences between horses at the end of a race. Racing fans know that there is a lot more information that can be extracted from a race than that, especially using metrics derived from sectional timing.
So, Coronet may still have the same rating of 115 as she started the season, but the evidence of her two G1 victories allows us to update our opinion of her to the positive.
When she won the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in June, for example, it was by only a short-neck from Ziyad, but she wore down the runner-up in the closing stages after that one had been given a great ride from the front. Coronet has a high head-carriage and is definitely a bit quirky, but this race showed she has fresh vigour for a battle.
Coronet was to confirm that opinion in spades when following up in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville in August. This time, she was ridden more on the forehand and quickened ahead before reaching the furlong pole. She tended to idle – no surprise there – and the margin was again under a length at the line, but again the truth was that she was much the best.
Gosden has laid Coronet off two months before this encounter. That should have given her plenty of time to improve again, and she has the all-important freshness that Magical lacks. In a season where the trainer has got nearly everything right (ignoring trying to make Too Darn Hot into a middle-distance horse, of course) this could be another smart stratagem.
There is no doubt that Magical deserves top billing here, but Coronet has a great chance to give her all she can handle in this spot.