The Tin Man, One Master and Benbatl ready for QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot
Unlike 12 months ago, Newmarket trainer James Fanshawe has revealed The Tin Man is ‘fit and fresh’ for his QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes assignment at Ascot on Saturday (1.35pm).
The popular seven-year-old – winner of the Group 1 contest in 2016 – finished down the field in seventh during last season’s renewal of the six-furlong contest.
However, that came on the back of a gruelling victory in the top level 32Red Sprint Cup Stakes a month earlier. And while the son of Equiano has run in the same race again this year – finishing second – Fanshawe is confident he is in much better shape.
“He has been a regular in the race and won it once. He was not at his best in it last year when he was probably feeling the effects of his previous run at Haydock,” said the Pegasus House-based trainer.
“He is fit and fresh heading into it this time. Their coats are going this time of the year and you never quite know, but he seems really well.
“We did not have him quite right midsummer and that is why he went to Newbury (for the bet365 Hackwood Stakes) rather than the Prix Maurice de Gheest.
“After Newbury he had a nice break and he finished his race strongly last time in the Sprint Cup at Haydock. Oisin (Murphy, jockey) said he was a bit unlucky because he stumbled a bit coming out of the gates but I was just so pleased he ran so well, and he has come out of it really well.
“I think that he likes being able to get into a race in his own time, rather than put the gun to his head early. I always thought he wanted better ground but he handles soft ground as well as anybody else and a lot of his relations love it.”
Competition could be provided by another HQ-based horse in One Master, although trainer William Haggas does harbour concerns regarding the trip.
He said: “I do not like the drop to six furlongs much, but when Tasleet (Haggas’ former sprinter) got beaten in it two years ago he got outstayed by Librisa Breeze, who was a seven-furlong horse coming back to six. Hopefully, they will go hard and have a nice fight.
“We tried a mile earlier in season in the Queen Anne and Falmouth. She travelled best in the latter and for most of the way was going to win, but she was weak in the last furlong. Usually, horses who are doubtful stayers do not win.”
Haggas is also set to saddle Move Swiftly in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on the same card (3.20pm), but much of the focus in that race will be on the Newmarket-trained Benbatl.
Saeed bin Surror’s five-year-old signed off last year by chasing home the mighty Australian mare Winx in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate and re-emerged, 11 months later, to thrash King Of Comedy, Zaaki and Happy Power in the Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket last month.
The Godolpin trainer said: “He has always had class and won Group 1s in Germany, Dubai and Australia. He is a calm horse who is very easy and straightforward to train.
“The plan has always been to give him a break this year and then bring him back September time. He won well at Newmarket and he has come back from the race really well.
“I am happy with him going into the QEII. Sheikh Mohammed made the decision (to run in the QEII rather than the QIPCO Champion Stakes). It is a stiff mile and I think that is the best race with him.”