There is always a bittersweet feeling when it comes to British Champions Day. On one hand, it is one of the most lucrative events of the season, which means it attracts the best horses, trainers and jockeys to Ascot. On the other hand, it marks the climax of the British flat racing season, meaning there are months to wait until more flat races get underway.
But there’s no doubt that the entertainment served up at Ascot each year trumps the sadness associated with the end of the season. 2020 was no different, and despite crowds being limited slightly by the coronavirus pandemic, there was still plenty of drama to behold.
With the 2021 edition of the meeting fast approaching, let’s remind ourselves of how the Group 1 races unfolded last year.
British Champions Sprint
After the day kicked off with the Group 2 British Champions Day Long Distance Cup, the Group 1 action got underway with the British Champions Sprint. Dream of Dreams was the 3/1 favourite in the horse racing betting with Paddy Power but failed to produce the form necessary to succeed.
Instead, it was 16/1 shot Glen Shiel who reigned supreme, providing a memorable win for trainer Archie Watson and jockey Hollie Doyle. 80/1 outsider Brando pushed Glen Shiel hard, and finished second by a nose, while One Master came home in third for William Haggas.
British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes
The one-mile, four-furlong Fillies & Mares Stakes followed, and it was WonderfulTonight who lived up to her name and produced a stellar performance, which justified her status as favourite in the horse racing tips. There were two and a half lengths between WonderfulTonight and second-placed Dame Malliot, while Passion came home in third.
David Menuisier was the winning trainer, whilst William Buick was the man in the saddle, guiding the three-year-old filly to a sensational triumph.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Next up was the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and while PalacePier was the odds-on favourite heading into the race, it was French-trained The Revenant who emerged the victor for jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot and trainer Francis-Henri Graffard.
Surprise package Roseman battled hard for Roger Varian but was pipped by a head to first place, while Palace Pier was forced to settle for third.
Then came the big one. The Champion Stakes is the most hotly anticipated race of British Champions Day, and it delivered plenty of entertainment last year. Ultimately, it was the 9/1 chance Addeybb who earned the win for the earlier-mentioned Haggas, with a fine display from jockey Tom Marquand in the saddle. It was a strong performance, standing up the attention of Skalleti and pre-race favourite Magical.
“He was really on it today,” Haggas reflected afterwards.“He looked fantastic beforehand, we thought, but he was grumpy and difficult to saddle, which is a good sign for him. He has got such a marvellous nature and this is tailor-made for him. We all know that he loves this ground.
“He had never won a G1 in England. He had been second a few times, so that for us is the great joy – we have finally won a championship race with such a good horse.”