British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes Betting Tips & Predictions – Ascot, Saturday 19th October 2019

Fillies and Mares are able to take part in any of the climactic British Champions races featuring at Ascot this Saturday, but only this event is reserved especially for them. It stands as one of the top all-female races of the season and again it has been able to draw in some high-quality names.

The Group 1 contest has run under several guises since its inception in 1946, as well as being swatted back and forth between Newmarket and Ascot. In all that time, no trainer has won three successive editions of the race, but we are hoping that may well change in 2019.

Top Tips

Delphinia each way at 10/1

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

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Race Info

Promotion to Group 1 status in 2013 saw the prize fund for this race double to £500,000. It has since been upped even further, strengthening its position as one of the most valuable races for just fillies and mares on the racing calendar.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good To Soft 1m3½f Group 1 £550,000 12 Runners 1/5 1-3

Recent Winners

No outright favourite has won this race in the last 10 years although we have had joint and co-favourites emerge victorious. Despite this, the average price of the winning horse in this time isn’t especially high at a shade under 11/2.

YearWinnerSPTrainerJockey
2018 Magical 5/1 Aidan O’Brien Ryan Moore
2017 Hydrangea 4/1 Aidan O’Brien Ryan Moore
2016 Journey 4/1 John Gosden Frankie Dettori
2015 Simple Verse 6/1 Ralph Beckett Andrea Atzeni
2014 Madame Chiang 12/1 David Simcock Jim Crowley

Delph Looks A Fab Bet

This looks to have the potential to be one of the races of the day, with the field featuring a really nice mix of solid older runners, a classic winner, and a handful of late developing yet talented sorts.

Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden have won the last three editions of the race between them, and may add to that haul this year, with the duo being responsible for seven of the 12 runner field.

Gosden Triple Threat

Newmarket handler John Gosden looks to boast a mightily strong hand in the race this year. For whilst Sparkle Roll does need to find a fair bit on what we have seen to date, both Anapurna and Star Catcher probably have legitimate claims to be favourite for this.

A winner of four of her six career starts to date, it is Anapurna who heads the ratings, with the daughter of Frankel’s career highlight so far coming when toughing it out in really good style to land the Oaks at Epsom. A perfect two from two on soft or worse going, the forecast rain will be all in her favour. She was however over five lengths adrift of stablemate Star Catcher when the pair clashed at Longchamp in September.

It is the aforementioned Star Catcher who heads the betting, and having received the vote of Frankie Dettori, she seems sure to be one of the most popular punts of the day. Now a dual Group 1 winner, and also unbeaten in two on soft, her big advantage over a number of these rivals is the turn of foot she possesses, and she looks set to go close.

Hat-trick For Aidan?

A fair number of trainers have recorded multiple success in this race over the years, with John Dunlop landing the prize on no fewer than nine occasions. Until now though, no handler has sent out the winner in three successive years. Bidding to change that in 2019 is Irish supremo Aidan O’Brien. Successful with Hydrangea and Magical in the past two seasons, O’Brien sends a four strong squadron into battle this time around in the shape of Pink Dogwood, South Sea Pearl, Fleeting and Delphinia.

Of that quartet it was Pink Dogwood who was the big hype horse headed into the current season. It’s safe to say she hasn’t quite lived up to expectations quite yet though. South Sea Pearl meanwhile has a lot to find on form, whilst Fleeting has had two cracks at the jolly without success now. For us, O’Brien’s best chance lies with Delphinia. A strong finishing second behind Anapurna last time out over 1m6f, we would quite like to have seen her pitched into the stayers’ event. O’Brien knows best though, and it looks interesting that this option is preferred.

Or Is Beckett the Best Bet?

Of the others, Tarnawa looks interesting for master handler Dermot Weld now that she really seems to be finding her form. Slightly more appealing at the prices though is the Ralph Beckett filly, Antonia De Vega. A daughter of Lope De Vega, who’s progeny are renowned for an ability to handle ease underfoot, she has done little wrong in winning three of her four career starts to date.

Given time to recover from an unfortunate experience in the Fillies’ Mile last season, she looked all about stamina when returning to the track at Newbury in June. She was anything but flashy in that Listed 1m2f soft ground affair, but what she did do is power home all the way to the line to win by a widening four lengths. One of the least exposed runners in the field, it will be intriguing to see how she gets on here.

Final Verdict: Delphinia each way

Star Catcher is greatly feared and looks a worthy favourite. The fact that O’Brien runs four in the race though does suggest that this is likely to turn into a pretty extreme test at the distance, which might just blunt the speed of Frankie Dettori’s mount.

Anapurna is respected as a strong staying Classic winner, but if this race does turn into a real slog, then the one we want on our side is Delphinia. This daughter of Galileo looks to still be improving, and with the ground riding as it is her stamina may well be brought into play. Expected to be doing all her best work late she can hit the frame at a double figure price.

About

Fillies' and Mares' Race at Ascot
Dunphasizer, flickr (Image Cropped)

Horse racing is a sport full of tradition. Whether it’s races, courses or the competitors, racing is a sport that celebrates its history. It cannot thrive simply by looking backwards though. Racing has had to innovate in recent times including with the introduction of the British Champions Series.

The Fillies’ and Mares’ Series is one of the five divisions of the British Champions Series. It is comprised of seven races - the 1,000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks, the Coronation Stakes, the Falmouth Stakes, the Nassau Stakes, the Yorkshire Oaks and finally, the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes.

As the final race of the division, the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes crowns the winner of the series and is therefore a very important contest in the flat racing season. As with the other series finals it had its name changed in 2011 with the introduction of British Champions Day which takes place each October at Ascot Racecourse.

A Race Worthy of Group 1 Status

HRH Princess Royal Visiting Royal Navy Hospital in 1943
HRH Princess Royal in 1943 by Pelman, L (Lt) via Wikimedia Commons

The British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes was promoted to Group 1 status in 2013, just two years after it became one of the key races on British Champions Day. The journey to top level status actually started back in 1946 when the race was first run at Ascot as the Princess Royal Stakes, named after Princess Mary (shown above).

The Princess Royal Stakes was an instant hit with many of the leading fillies and mares competing in a race that always took place in the latter stages of the flat racing season. The prestige of the race was made clear when the current system of grading was introduced in 1971 as it was given Group 3 status.

Little has changed in the nature of the race over the years. It’s still open to fillies and mares aged three and older and run over a distance of one mile, three furlongs and 211 yards (it’s commonly written as one mile and four furlongs on race cards). The name and course have changed more than once though.

The first of those changes came in 2008 when the race was renamed the Pride Stakes and transferred to Newmarket. That move saw the race scheduled during Newmarket’s Champions’ Meeting in October and coincided with a move up to Group 2 level. The move to Newmarket proved to be short lived as the race was back at Ascot for the first British Champions Day in 2011, the first year in which it went under the current name.

Throughout the changes in venue and levels the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes has always produced top quality winners. The likes of Attica Meli, Snow Bride and Ouija Board have all won this contest but only two horses have one more than once - Shebeen (1974, 1975) and Crystal Capella (2008, 2010).

Dunlop’s Longevity Summed Up in One Race

John Dunlop’s death in 2018 hit the world of horse racing hard. The Arundel-based trainer was a permanent fixture in the lives of many involved in the sport and several leading trainers learned a great deal from Dunlop. His 3,000+ winners came over a number of decades and included many of the biggest races on the flat including the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes for which he holds the training record with nine wins which were spread over 40 years.

John Dunlop's Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes Wins

Horses (Year Won)
Acts Of Grace (2006) Head In The Clouds (2001) Signorina Cattiva (1999)
Labibeh (1995) Banket (1988) Believer (1982)
Flighting (1981) Trillionaire (1978) Predicament (1966)

Lester Piggott, the jockey with the most wins in the race, managed just one fewer victory with eight which were themselves spread by 25 years. As mentioned above, only two horses have won this race more than once with Shebeen the only horse to win in consecutive years.

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