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French horse Almanzor steals Ascot show

French horse Almanzor has been the brightest star at Ascot as British Champions Day lived up to its billing, and then some.

The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained colt has barely put a foot wrong all year, claiming the French Derby and adding the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, both over a mile-and-a-quarter (2000m).

When he won in Ireland he had Aidan O’Brien’s subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Found immediately behind him and that scenario was played out once more on Britain’s richest raceday on Saturday.

Two lengths was the winning margin this time for Christophe Soumillon’s mount, with Jack Hobbs third.

Rouget, who has enjoyed a magnificent season, deliberately stayed away from the Arc with Almanzor this year, but that could change in 12 months’ time.

“He beat Found a little further today because I think she felt the Arc in her legs, just 13 days ago, but still she’s a champion, too. With him, Found, Minding – it really is Champions Day,” Rouget said.

“I wanted to keep him at this distance, we keep him next year and we’ll see if he goes to the Arc then.”

Minding bettered her male counterparts in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, to record the seventh Group One success of her brilliant career.

The O’Brien-trained filly already had the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Nassau Stakes in her possession this year and quickened smartly for Ryan Moore as the 7-4 favourite before being pegged back to half a length by Ribchester.

A big meeting at Ascot would not be quite the same without a Frankie Dettori-ridden winner and he duly obliged with Journey in the Fillies & Mares Stakes for trainer John Gosden.

The James Fanshawe-trained The Tin Man justified the unwavering faith of his trainer and jockey Tom Queally in the British Champions Sprint, leaving a top-class field in his wake.

Queally – the man who twice won at this meeting as the rider of Frankel – judged it to perfection in beating Growl and Brando by a length and a short head.

Order Of St George could only finish fourth as Sheikhzayedroad enjoyed his moment in the sun in the Long Distance Cup.

The O’Brien-trained Order Of St George was returning to the scene of his Gold Cup triumph having been a fine third in the Arc, but try as he might, he could not quite get to the leaders.

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