British Champions Day: Churchill among Aidan O'Brien's hopefuls at Ascot

Aidan O'Brien
O'Brien has trained 24 Group or Grade One winners in 2017
Qipco British Champions Day
Venue: Ascot Date: Saturday 21 October Race times: 13:25-16:30 BST (Champion Stakes 15:50)
Coverage: Updates and big-race commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live

Churchill and Highland Reel are among the leading hopes for record-chasing trainer Aidan O'Brien on British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday.

Dual Classic winner Churchill will contest the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for O'Brien, who is one short of the record for Group One wins in a year.

O'Brien runs Highland Reel and Cliffs Of Moher in the Champion Stakes against John Gosden's favourite Cracksman.

But Ulysses, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, will miss the big race.

Stoute will rely upon Irish Champion Stakes runner-up Poet's Word, while Richard Hannon saddles Barney Roy, who was runner-up to Churchill in the 2,000 Guineas before gaining revenge in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Churchill will be joined in the QEII by stablemates Lancaster Bomber and Sir John Lavery with prolific Group One winner Ribchester, trained by Richard Fahey, among the opposition.

Champions Day schedule (all times BST)
13:25 Long Distance Cup - two miles
14:00 Sprint Stakes - six furlongs (Group One)
14:40 Fillies and Mares Stakes - one mile, four furlongs (Group One)
15:15 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes - one mile (Group One)
15:50 Champion Stakes - one mile, two furlongs (Group One)
16:30 Balmoral Handicap - one mile

The six-race Ascot card, which includes four Group One contests, is Britain's richest raceday with more than £4.3m in prize money on offer.

Harry Angel and last year's winner The Tin Man are leading contenders in the Sprint Stakes, where Caravaggio represents O'Brien - whose leading hope in the Fillies and Mares Stake is Hydrangea.

O'Brien has a chance earlier on Saturday to equal the record of 25 top-level wins set by the late American trainer Bobby Frankel in 2003.

The 48-year-old Irish trainer has the favourite Johannes Vermeer in the Caulfield Cup in Australia (06:30 BST).

O'Brien said he would be honoured to break the record, but is modest about his achievements.

"Everybody works close together and it's a big team effort. There are a lot of links in the chain; and so many people involved long before the horses are even conceived," he said.

Group One record
Bobby Frankel: American trainer set the world record of 25 top-level wins in 2003. He died six years later, and the legendary unbeaten racehorse Frankel was named after him
Aidan O'Brien: Irish trainer's previous best Group One tally was 23 in 2001 and 2008

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