World's best may look elsewhere than Ascot's Champion challenge


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The Independent Online

The £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes, which will be the richest race ever run in Britain when it is staged at Ascot in October, attracted 40 entries yesterday, including three of the world's leading middle-distance performers in So You Think, Nathaniel and Pour Moi. Whether they line up remains to be seen – So You Think may be in Australia by then, and Nathaniel and Pour Moi have the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 13 days earlier as their prime autumn target.

One who will definitely not have the Ascot 10-furlong contest as an afterthought is Workforce. Last year's Derby and Arc winner has not been entered. "It's to do with the distance more than anything," said Teddy Grimthorpe, manager to the four-year-old's owner, Khalid Abdullah. "He's happiest at a mile and a half and the Arc is again the plan."

The injury picked up by the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt in last month's King George has not proved a problem, with the colt having shrugged off any lameness. "There was nothing very major," added Grimthorpe, "and he's progressing well."

So You Think will miss this month's York International in favour of next month's Irish Champion Stakes, after which a decision will be made whether he is to enter quarantine ahead of a tilt at an unprecedented third Cox Plate in his native Australia.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Hunter Forward (3.10 Haydock) Galileo filly who had the pace to win over five furlongs in her native Australia, who relished the step up to nine furlongs for her successful British debut last week.

Next best

Mina's Boy (5.25 Yarmouth) The son of Sinndar is still learning his job, but extreme distances are suiting him well.

One to watch

The downhill six-furlong dash of the Stewards' Cup was too sharp for Atlantic Sport (Mick Channon), who will appreciate going back up to seven furlongs.

Where the money's going

Frederick Engels, going for a four-timer in Sunday's Phoenix Stakes, is 7-2 from 4-1 with Paddy Power to end Aidan O'Brien's dominance of the Group One contest.