Frankie Dettori produced an incredible effort aboard Amo Racing Limited’s 3-1 favorite King Of Steel to land the QIPCO Champion Stakes (G1) with his final ride in Britain, giving the Italian a double on QIPCO British Champions Day. Dettrori’s skill helped King of Steel gain an automatic berth into the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.
Trainer Roger Varian had yet to make decision as of October 22 whether King of Steel would ship to California for the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 80 Graded/Group stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
In the early stages of the 1 1/4-mile race, Dettori restrained the 3-year-old son of Wootton Bassett (GB) as the keen-going Royal Rhyme (IRE) shared front-running duties with My Prospero (IRE) and the Aidan O-Brien-trained Point Lonsdale (IRE).
As the field turned for home, King of Steel was still last and under pressure while the George Boughey-trained Via Sistina (IRE) struck the front. However, the Betfred Derby (G1) runner-up showed his staying capabilities within the final 2 furlongs to run down the Mrs. R G Hillen-owned filly, handing 52-year-old Dettori a third success in the QIPCO Champion Stakes. Via Sistina was beaten three-quarters of a length in second, while the Patrice Cottier-trained Horizon Dore (FR) was a further 2 lengths back in third.
Speaking after he crossed the line, an emotional Dettori said: “It’s absolutely insane. What a day. I’m having my last ride (in Britain) winning the Champion Stakes at Ascot – I have to pinch myself. He hated the ground and I was struggling in behind but what a superstar. Well done to the team.”
Roger Varian, who had never won the QIPCO Champion Stakes, said: “It’s a good moment. I’ve got to thank Kia [Joorabchian, lead owner] and I’m delighted for the horse. It’s great to add a Group 1 to his CV. I’m thrilled for Frankie and the team at home.”
King Of Steel, bred in Kentucky by Bonne Chance Farm, LLC, completed the distance in 2:08:42 on a course listed as soft.
Big Rock Soars in Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
The Yeguada Centurion SL-owned Big Rock (FR) produced an astonishing front-running performance in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) (G1) to slam his rivals by 6 lengths. The winner of the 1-mile contest gains an automatic berth into the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
As the gates opened to a level break, Aurelien Lemaitre immediately made his intentions clear aboard Big Rock, who took up the running from the Kevin Ryan-trained Hi Royal (IRE) and market leader Paddington (GB).
As the field reached the final 2 furlongs, the Christopher Head-trained 3-year-old was remarkably still on the bridle and 8 lengths clear of his rivals, who began to toil. The 3-year-old maintained his relentless gallop to record a bloodless 6-length success, despite a late attempt from Facteur Cheval (IRE) who finished second, a neck ahead of H H Aga Khan-owned Tahiyra (IRE).
Lemaitre, who partnered Big Rock to a first Group 1 victory, said: “It’s very amazing to win today. He’s an unbelievable horse. We went at a very good pace, and he loved the ground. He’s very strong and galloped easily in front.”
Big Rock completed the mile in 1:44:58.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for the winners of the Challenge Series races to start in next month’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of Oct. 23 to receive the rewards.