Champions Weekend round up: Plenty to ponder after shocks

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It was a weekend where champions were crowned, and stars of the future were unearthed; although, with surprises aplenty at both Newmarket and Ascot, clues for next season may be tricky to spot.

They were supposed to be the sure-things on Future Champions Day; Ivawood was subject to a number of four-figure wagers in the Middle Park Stakes, while Estidhkaar was supposed to be a good thing in the Dewhurst.

But when Charming Thought swept past Ivawood up the Rowley Mile, the first twist in the 2000 Guineas market was unfolding.

The Charlie Appleby-trained victor was inserted to the market at a price of 16/1, while Richard Hannon’s previously unbeaten runner-up was pushed out to 12/1 from 8/1, with the ground blamed for defeat on Friday.

So with the banker down at the first hurdle, it was up to Estidhkaar to save favourite backers.

A slow start in which he jinked right, wasn’t ideal he regained his composure as the race went on. But when push came to shove, he couldn’t quicken and was left a well-beaten fourth, seeing his odds for the first Classic of next season pushed out from 14/1 to 20/1.

Picking up the pieces, under yet another smart Andrea Atzeni ride, was Belardo. Roger Varian, had spoken at the high regard he held the big colt in earlier in the season, and was rewarded with a nice win after disappointing at the July meeting.

The half-brother to formerly-smart Berling was introduced to the Guineas market at 14/1, in what now looks an even trickier race to solve.

Movements in the fillies Classic markets were less dramatic, but in Together Forever’s nice defeat of Lucida in the Dubai Fillies Mile the former was introduced into next-years Oaks market as a 14/1 shot.

Lucida meanwhile was nudged out from 10/1 to 16/1 for the 1000 Guineas after coming home a 2 1/2l fifth.

Champions Day at Ascot saw fewer surprises, but Cirrus Des Aigles’ defeat in the Champion Stakes will have hit many hard, especially the punter with a £4,000 bet at 7/4.

But the most taking performance at the Berkshire track was probably from Forgotten Rules in the Long Distance Cup.

The 3/1 shot powered clear to take the opener, beating some hardened stayers on just his third racecourse appearance.

Dermot Weld’s three-year-old was entered into next year’s Ascot Gold Cup market as a 5/1 chance.

There may be a long winter to come, but next year’s flat season is gearing up to be a real slobberknocker.

 All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.