Megan Nicholls Racing Tips – Ascot Champions Day Special
BetMGM ambassador Megan Nicholls has her say on the world of horse racing, bringing her renowned knowledge and insight exclusively to our blog.
This week the former jockey, who rode more than 110 winners before becoming a highly-regarded TV pundit, turns her attention to the blockbuster card that is Champions Day at Ascot.
Ascot 1.15 – Long Distance Cup
It’s so great to see Trueshan and Hollie Doyle back in top form. Alan King and his team deserve a lot of credit for getting the horse back to what seems like his best.
I thought Doncaster was a ridiculous performance, all things considered. He pulled too hard, it was a bit of a mess and even Hollie said herself that she found him really tricky to deal with that day.
The fact he was so tough and managed to still win was impressive in itself. He bounced back and won well in the Qatar Prix du Cadran at Longchamp in France on ground that was just borderline quick enough for him at his best as well.
He’s clearly back in good form and, with the testing conditions, I think he’ll be really hard to beat.
Kyprios has obviously made a pleasing enough start on his return but I can’t imagine he’s got lengths and lengths to find or that he’ll improve fitness-wise.
I’m not convinced that the really, really testing ground is his best either so I’m going with Trueshan and at a bigger price there’s Sweet William, who I think is an improving horse and will love the mud.
Megan’s Tip: Trueshan WIN; Sweet William E/W
Ascot 1.50 – Sprint Stakes
This is fairly straightforward. I think Kinross – who is absolutely one of Frankie Dettori’s favourite horses, he’s been a money-spinner – can get his day in the glory once again.
He will love the testing conditions, we saw him win this race last year and he was arguably a bit unlucky in France. Although he’s won on quick ground I think he’s more effective when it’s softer.
The sprint division has been weak this year, it’s fair to say. Shaquille is a non-runner here because of the ground so I think Kinross is the one worth going with.
Vadream is talented in very testing conditions as well but has a bit to find on official ratings and I just can’t see him finishing in front of Kinross on what is his best ground also.
Megan’s Tip: Kinross WIN
Ascot 2.25 – Fillies & Mares Stakes
Jackie Oh has been a model of consistency, especially of late.
She’s clearly very talented and she gets the weight allowance, being one of the three-year-olds in the field. Her form recently has been good, she’s in great heart and soft ground isn’t a problem for her either.
At a bigger price, Sweet Memories could be slightly overlooked. She ran well behind Time Lock last time on ground at Newmarket which I thought was too quick. She was a winner the time before that at the same venue on soft and returning to that ground here might just help her.
Megan’s Tip: Jackie Oh WIN; Sweet Memories E/W
Ascot 3.05 – Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
This is one of the trickier races to call – I think it’s red-hot.
Paddington has been the horse of the year. He’s attracted so much attention, partly because of his name but also because of his talent.
I felt he was a little bit flat at York. He’d had quite a few quick runs – on quick ground, testing ground, everything – and I actually think he didn’t disgrace himself by any means up against Mostahdaf, the highest-rated horse in the UK at the time.
First of all it was an exceptional winning ride from Frankie Dettori in the Juddmonte that day – and it takes nothing away from the ride that Ryan Moore gave Paddington whatsoever, the winning ride was just exceptional.
Paddington just lacked that little oomph that he normally has, that change of gear that we normally see. But returning to the mile is a massive positive for me because he seems like he’s not remotely bothered by any ground conditions.
What could lead to him being beaten is if it’s a real test – Ryan will want it to be not too dissimilar to Goodwood in that it’s one he can control at a sensible tempo and he can use that turn of foot.
Elsewhere, Nashwa is not going to be forcing the pace but she’s very talented on this ground and over the mile. Tahiyra is also super-talented and definitely the best mile filly around in my opinion. Being a three-year-old and a filly she gets nice allowances too.
The dynamic of the race should allow Paddington to win but I’ll take Tahiyra just behind him.
Megan’s Tip: Paddington 1st, Tahiyra 2nd (Forecast)
Ascot 3.45 – Champion Stakes
This is another tricky one. The form of Mostahdaf, who will be ridden by Jim Crowley, is very good and he's an exceptionally talented horse.
I know the team thinks he's better on quick ground but he has won twice on soft. Hopefully he will be fine on the slightly sharper inner track and hopefully it won't be much worse than just soft.
Had they run on the outer track, Via Sistina would be a good each-way value bet. She loves this mud – although she is not the easiest and can run around a bit under pressure. She's so talented and when the ground is really testing, she is very effective.
King of Steel is very talented but just hasn't had his massive day in the sun at the very top level. Although he's a winner on the testing ground, whether he wants it to be bottomless is a whole other question.
A tricky one, this, but I’m sticking with Mostahdaf.
Megan’s Tip: Mostahdaf WIN
Ascot 4.25 – Balmoral Handicap
My pick for this one is Rhoscolyn – he loves the mud, absolutely loves it. That’s really important and he’s had a good season, he goes really well at courses like Goodwood so I don’t think Ascot concerns me with him.
He ran well here last time when fifth in the Howden Challenge Cup on ground which was much, much quicker and didn’t disgrace himself by any means.
He’s so much more effective when the ground is soft so I think he’s great value and should run into the places regardless.
That said, I would love to see Hayley Turner win on Docklands as she’s on 998 winners at the moment and will hopefully get that 1,000th soon but the one for me in this one is without a doubt Rhoscolyn.
Megan’s Tip: Rhoscolyn WIN
Any odds quoted are correct at time of publication but subject to fluctuation