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European stars Almanzor and Found clash on Ascot's big day


Almanzor and Found are the biggest stars in a brilliant cast assembled for British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday, with four G1's to be simulcast along with a fascinating handicap to close Britain's richest raceday.

The event is also established as an enticing target for French and Irish raiders and two European trainers who have dominated 2016, France's Jean-Claude Rouget and Ireland's Aidan O'Brien will do battle in the featured G1 Champion Stakes (2000m) with Rouget's brilliant Irish Champion Stakes winner Almanzor taking on Found, O'Brien's mighty Arc winning filly.
Almanzor's progress - which includes his G1 French Derby (2100m) victory at Chantilly in June - can be measured by his rating which has soared from 86 just over a year ago to 127 now following his last-to-first surge down the outside in that G1 Irish Champion Stakes (2000m) at Leopardstown which - apart from the Arc - was surely the strongest middle distance race in Europe this year.
Jockey Christophe Soumillon had suggested after that stunning victory last month that his mount was the perfect horse for the Arc but Rouget -who always preferred the Ascot objective - squashed that plan with this one-liner: "Christophe is the pilot but I am the trainer!"

The 63-year-old Frenchman says: "Almanzor is very laid back with a fantastic turn of foot. I believe he'll like Ascot. It resembles our French tracks more than somewhere like Newmarket and good ground or a little softer will be perfect."

Found - second at Leopardstown - was brilliant in the Arc and Ryan Moore's mount will enhance her superstar status if winning this after such an incredibly demanding year. The four-year-old's supporters will certainly like the statistic that older horses have a much better record in this event since it was moved to Ascot in 2011, whereas Almanzor's three-year-old generation is a dismal 0-21 of those who have tried it.

Meanwhile third at Leopardstown was Found's stablemate Minding and this rampant six-times G1 winning filly may start favourite for the earlier G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over the straight 1600m.

She is very versatile but needs to prove that she has enough speed for what looks one of the strongest ever renewals of this event. Old foes and specialist 1600m three-year-old's Ribchester, Galileo Gold and Awtaad - all G1 winners in 2016 - are likely to ensure that O'Brien's dual Classic winning filly doesn't have things easy.


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