British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes Tips
Race three on British Champions Day at Ascot sees the culmination of the fillies and mares’ division of the British Champions Series. This contest has produced some real crackers over the years and here we highlight the best odds and offers available, as well as providing our betting tips for this year’s renewal.
This Group 1 contest for fillies and mares aged three and older was first run at Ascot in 1946 over the Oaks distance of 1m4f. Rising in both prestige and value over the years, the race now offers £600,000 in total prize money.
Fillies & Mares Stakes Tips and Preview
Each of the races at British Champions Day is very strong but there’s something extra special about the way the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes is shaping up. The entries for this 1 mile 3½ furlong, Group 1 race have really raised the excitement levels. There is quality throughout the field and every chance of a thrilling finish with several horses in with a chance of winning come the final furlong.
Has Dettori Chosen Correctly Again?
Frankie Dettori is one of the most in-demand jockeys in world racing. He always has a couple of options in the biggest races of all, even when he’s just choosing which John Gosden horse he should ride. The fact that he has consistently picked Star Catcher when given different options tells you how highly he rates this three-year-old filly.
Not everybody held Star Catcher in quite the same high regard as Dettori in the earlier stages of the season. She has improved considerably as the summer went on and heads to Ascot with wins in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Ascot, the Irish Oaks and the Prix Vermeille under her belt.
Star Catcher’s win on soft ground as Ascot is arguably the most important piece of form ahead of the Fillies & Mares Stakes. She will need to be right at her best to win again though with Anapurna and Fleeting leading the chasing pack.
Anapura showed her stamina a win on heavy ground over 1 mile 6 furlongs at Longchamp in the Prix de Royallieu. Dettori rode her to victory that day and his choosing of Star Catcher does raise alarm bells. As for Fleeting, Aidan O’Brien is confident about her chances of contending but she has to reverse losing form to both Star Catcher and Anapurna.
Antonia De Vega the Each Way Play
While the market principles for the Fillies & Mares Stakes have been competing in some of the biggest races around, Antonia De Vega has had to remain at home, recuperating from a fractured bone in her leg which she picked up during last year’s Fillies’ Mile. That put paid to the big hopes that connections had about this season as did a worrying lack of quality displayed on the gallops.
Ralph Beckett realised that he’d have to work very hard to coax out the ability that many believe Antonia De Vega to have. He resolved to saving her for races where there is cut in the ground. That meant he had to bide his time but it was worth the wait when she scored on her return in a Listed race on soft ground at Newbury.
A step up in trip has always been on the cards for Antonia De Vega. She should also relish the softer ground at Ascot so must be considered for an each way bet at nice odds.
Star Catcher’s improvement over the course of the season makes her the others all have to beat at 13/8 with BetVictor. It will be very interesting to see whether the predicted battle between the favourite and Anapurna and Fleeting materialises or if Antonia De Vega can take another big step forward and push for more than just a place at 10/1 with Ladbrokes.
- 2018 – Magical – jockey Ryan Moore, trainer Aidan O’Brien
- 2017 – Hydrangea – jockey Ryan Moore, trainer Aidan O’Brien
- 2016 – Journey – jockey Frankie Dettori, trainer John Gosden
- 2015 – Simple Verse – jockey Andrea Atzeni, trainer Ralph Beckett
- 2014 – Madame Chiang – jockey Jim Crowley, trainer David Simcock
- 2013 – Seal Of Approval – jockey George Baker, trainer James Fanshawe
- 2012 – Sapphire – jockey Pat Smullen, trainer Dermot Weld
- 2011 – Dancing Rain – jockey Johnny Murtagh, trainer William Haggas
- 2010 – Crystal Capella – jockey Ryan Moore, trainer Sir Michael Stoute
- 2009 – Ashalanda – jockey Christophe Lemaire, trainer Alain de Royer-Dupré
- 2008 – Crystal Capella – jockey Ryan Moore, trainer Sir Michael Stoute
- 2007 – Trick Or Treat – jockey Tom Queally, trainer James Given
- 2006 – Acts Of Grace – jockey Kerrin McEvoy, trainer John Dunlop
Fillies and Mares Stakes History
First run in 1946, this contest was initially titled the Princess Royal Stakes in honour of Princess Mary. Run as a Group 3 event for much of its life, the conditions of the race have remained largely unchanged over the years, although the venue has varied at times.
After switching between Ascot and Newmarket in the early 2000’s, the race remained at Newmarket between 2008 and 2010 as part of the tracks Champions Meeting, during which time it went under the name of the Pride Stakes. The inaugural British Champions day saw the event brought back to Ascot and given its current title. Group 1 status soon followed with the classification being granted for the first time in 2013.
Oaks winners Snow Bride (1989) and Dancing Rain (2011) are amongst the classiest winners in the races history. The best of the bunch though is the Ed Dunlop trained Ouija Board. In addition to taking this in 2005, the superstar daughter of Cape Cross also won the English and Irish Oaks, Prince Of Wales Stakes, Nassau Stakes, Hong Kong Vase and the Breeders Cup Fillies and Mares Turf twice. As if those exploits at the track weren’t enough, she has also proved a success as a broodmare, giving us the brilliant 2014 derby winner, Australia.
No prizes for guessing the name of the winning-most jockey in the race. It’s that man Lester Piggott once again. The “Long Fellow’s” record of eight wins between the years of 1959 and 1984 continues to set the benchmark.
John Dunlop went one better than Piggott with his nine wins putting him at the top of the trainers list. Dunlop certainly receives bonus points for longevity, with his first win coming in 1966, and his ninth forty years later in 2006.
Whilst open to runners aged three and older, it is the three year olds who have proven dominant in this contest. In the 35 editions run between 1979 and 2016 the prize went to a three year old on 27 occasions.
Winning this more than once seems to be a pretty tall order. Only two fillies have managed the feat, namely Shebeen (1974 and 1975) and Crystal Capella (2008 and 2010).