October is champions month on the Flat in Britain, when the final big prizes are decided before the jumpers take over for the winter.
A little counter-intuitively, the champions of next year are decided first at the Dubai Future Champions Festival at Newmarket on October 13th and 14th.
The big race on the Friday is the Group 1 Fillies' Mile, regularly used by Aidan O'Brien as a launchpad for his best (Minding and Rhododendron have won the last two) and this year he could send Happily, Magical and/or September. The Cornwallis for sprinters also takes place on the Friday. Two years ago it was won by Quiet Reflection.
The Saturday is the feature day and it centres on the Dewhurst Stakes, probably Britain's premier race for two-year-olds. The list of winners can compete with just about any Group 1 for older horses and this year Expert Eye and Gustav Klimt remain on collision course to decide the champion juvenile.
The weekend after the champions of the future go on show, those they seek to replace will be decided on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on October 21. A six-race card with five Group 1s, it is a concentrated spectacle of quality.
The Long Distance Cup begins proceedings and could yet bring together Order Of St George, his Gold Cup conqueror Big Orange, and Stradivarius. Winter could line up in the Fillies and Mares Stakes, possibly against last year's winner Journey.
The Champions Sprint looks set to bring together the best six-furlong horses around, including a revitalised Quiet Reflection against the pair of three-year-olds, Harry Angel and Caravaggio. Three-year-olds also hold plenty of the cards in the feature Champion Stakes, including Cracksman and Barney Roy, though four-year-old Ribchester looks the one to beat in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes for milers.
After Ascot, the search for the next generation of champions resumes. The last Group 1 of the British season, the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, takes place on October 28th and typically is the strongest race for finding the following season's middle-distance horses, at least among those forward enough to show Group 1 quality at two.
Several subsequent Derby winners have won the Racing Post Trophy and, unsurprisingly, Aidan O'Brien has dominated the race's recent history. However, this year all eyes will be on jockey Andrea Atzeni as he bids for a fifth straight win in the race.
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