Horse Racing: British Champions Sprint Stakes Preview & 7/1 Betting Tip

James FanshaweKarl Burke’s star filly Quiet Reflection heads the British Champions Sprint Stakes betting market at 3/1 (2pm Saturday, Ascot live on Channel 4).

Quiet Reflection’s only defeat in her five runs this season was in the July Cup at Newmarket, she was beaten two lengths by Limato into third. Burke expressed his concerns about the quick ground and the undulations of the track on the day.

This three-year-old daughter of Showcasing has a rounded action and it was no surprise when she beat the colts on soft ground in the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock last time out in early September. She has had a little break since that run and Burke reports that he could not be happier with her. A bit of cut in the ground would aid her cause but she has to be a major threat on anything other than firm. The only caveat is that some horses at the yard are reportedly coughing and those that have run in the past fortnight have been disappointing. If she is 100% healthy Quiet Reflection would be the one they have to beat but that is quite a big ‘if’.

The Tin Man (7/1) was runner-up to Quiet Reflection at Haydock, beaten nearly two lengths. This gelded four-year-old son of Equiano might have finished closer if he had not dwelt slightly leaving the stalls. The trouble is that he needs to be held up so is never exactly going to be bounced out. Another possible mitigating factor was that Haydock was his first run since he was found to be suffering from an infection, like so many others in Newmarket.

The Tin Man picked up the bug some time after posting his biggest win to date in the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury and missed his next two engagements including the Nunthorpe as a result. Tom Queally rode him with extreme confidence at Newbury, never feeling the need to so much as move his whip. The Tin Man won by a head, beating Mick Shannon’s Divine who had also been ridden patiently.

That winning distance is misleading. Queally said that it was one of his easiest winners ever in a big sprint and that The Tin Man needs to be ridden patiently and filled with confidence. If he succeeds in switching him off he can produce a very decent turn of foot when it matters. Trainer James Fanshawe (pictured) has great faith in this gelding and a strong pace looks very likely which should play to his strengths. The Tin Man likes decent ground and the yard form makes him a serious contender for this preview’s betting tips’ selection. He certainly has each-way claims.

A fancied runner with a very different profile is John Gosden’s Shalaa (6/1). This three-year-old son of Invincible Spirit scored twice at the highest level last season and was champion two-year-old. He was only beaten on his racecourse debut and put together a sequence of five victories on a range of surfaces.

Shalaa sustained an injury to his pelvis in April that has seriously delayed his reappearance for Al Shaqab Racing. In his only start this term Shalaa won the Group 3 Bengough Stakes at Ascot a fortnight ago. Gosden was tentative about his chances as he said that he would definitely come on for the run and thought that the ground was unsuitably testing for a colt who was not 100% race fit.

It was not the strongest race and Shalaa started as the 7/4 favourite and made all to win by a neck, beating Ed Vaughan’s Mehronissa. Frankie Dettori urged him to the line without using his whip as Gosden had instructed him to use it for balance only. The signs look good and this colt may have the best engine of the lot but we will not know if retains his ability until after this run. Shalaa is a lazy so and so at home, so the yard probably does not know either.

Yet another runner with a question mark over her chances here is Michael Dods’s five furlong specialist, Mecca’s Angel (8/1). This five-year-old mare made Limato look slow, beating him two lengths in the Nunthorpe at York in August. Last time out she was third in a furiously run Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly but she was the only horse in the first six home who was ridden close to the early pace.

Dods was pleased, saying that she was surrounded by speed horses and needed to keep her position to avoid the door shutting on her.  Unfortunately that early pace set things up for horses coming from further back.

This will be Mecca’s Angel’s first try at six furlongs since October 2013 in the colours of the canny David Metcalfe. Dods admits that this is a step into the unknown but is encouraged that she took a lot of pulling up after both her wins at York. This also seems a fairly rapid turnaround after her unsuccessful foray over the Channel. On the positive side Mecca’s Angel is rated 1lb above the field and benefits from a 3lb gender allowance, so she can certainly not be discounted.

A French raider with realistic claims of taking home place money at least in this British Champions Sprint Stakes is Signs Of Blessing (14/1). This five-year-old gelding finished third in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, beaten only half a length by Twilight Son on the good to soft ground. Signs Of Blessing has won his only start since then, in early August, taking the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. That was on his preferred good ground, beating Donjuan Triumphant (40/1) just over a length, but the favourite Gold-Fun looked damaged and fell.

His trainer Francois Rohaut claims that Signs Of Blessing is in excellent shape and has had a perfect preparation. He is expecting a good performance but acknowledges that this is one of the most competitive sprints of the autumn. Stephane Pasquier rode him from the front to victory at Deauville and takes the ride again here.

Trainer Henry Candy’s Twilight Son (7/1) is very useful but really needs ‘soft’ in the going description to show his best. This four-year-old was predictably disappointing in the July Cup, not letting himself down on the fast ground. Ryan Moore won the Diamond Jubilee on him in June and was second on him in this race last year. Twilight Son likes a strong pace to run at but needs the weather to take a turn for the worse to give him a chance of improving on last year’s placing.

Librisa Breeze (9/1) is much more adaptable and has won on both soft and good to firm here in valuable seven furlong handicaps for Dean Ivory. This grey son of Mount Nelson was particularly impressive last time out two weeks ago. He was held up as usual and encountered traffic problems but produced a terrific burst of speed as soon as a gap appeared to beat Firmament half a length. His mark has risen from 108 to 113 after that effort on soft.

This will be Librisa Breeze’s first attempt at six furlongs and first encounter of Group 1 company. Ivory admits that some rain would be helpful and will be delighted if this gelding can finish in the first four. Librisa Breeze has a bit to find on ratings but place expectations look realistic.

Kevin Ryan’s Brando (12/1) also comes into this on the back of a win. He beat Growl in the Ayr Gold Cup a month ago over this distance on good to soft after being held up by Tom Eaves. In his previous run he was beaten six lengths by Mecca’s Angel in the Nunthorpe, probably finding the ground on the quick side.

This four-year-old is possibly a typical son of Pivotal whose offspring tend to like a bit of cut. Brando finished second, three lengths behind Mecca’s Angel in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh in July on slower ground. Brando’s rating of 116 puts him into the mix but he is another runner who really needs some rain to arrive.

Our Preview’s British Champions Sprint Stakes Betting Tips’ Verdict

This is a tricky puzzle to solve with Burke’s poor recent form dampening the appeal of the ultra-talented favourite Quiet Reflection and Shalaa looking ungenerously priced for an unproven three-year-old.

Mecca’s Angel is tempting each-way at 8/1 but a fast pace looks very likely which could favour runners who definitely get this distance and prefer to come from off the pace.

Our preview’s British Champions Sprint Stakes betting tip consequently has to be THE TIN MAN who is saddled by the in-form James Fanshawe, likes good ground and should benefit from a strongly run race. Back him each-way best priced at 7/1 with Coral Bookmaker.

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