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Bateel to fly flag for France on Champions Day

18 Sep 2017

Francis-Henri Graffard prefers showpiece day at Ascot in preference to tilt at Prix de l'Arc Triomphe

French challengers have enjoyed significant success at QIPCO British Champions Day and look like having at least one strong contender this year after connections of Bateel indicated on Monday she would line up in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Trainer Francis-Henri Graffard is keener on Bateel tackling the Group One contest, against her own sex, instead of supplementing the recent Prix Vermeille winner for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc Triomphe at Chantilly on October 1.

“There will be no decision until the end of the week, but it is looking more likely she will wait for Ascot,” Graffard said on Monday. “She is very well, but at the moment it is more likely she will wait for Ascot.”

Bateel, trained by David Simcock until this year, was making it seven wins from 12 starts when beating Journey by two and a half lengths in the Prix Vermeille on her latest start.

The runner-up was an emphatic winner of the Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes last year and is generally 5-1 favourite to successfully defend her crown. Bateel is available at 6-1 with most firms.

Since its inception in 2011, four horses based in France have enjoyed glory on Champions Day from 26 runners.

Cirrus Des Aigles memorably won the QIPCO Champion Stakes six years ago, while Freddy Head struck in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Charm Spirit (2014) and Solow (2015).

Twelve months ago, Jean-Claude Rouget, who trains near Pau in the south-west of France was celebrating after Almanzor was a brilliant winner of the Champion Stakes.

Other possible French raiders on Champions Day include Al Wukair (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) and Signs Of Blessing (QIPCO British Champions Sprint).

Tickets are selling fast to racing’s big finale, with King Edward VII Enclosure already sold out, so be sure to secure your spot now to Ascot next month.