Ruby Walsh: Champions Day is contrived – call it Finale Day instead!

Ruby is not convinced Saturday was a day of 'champions'.


Ruby Walsh believes that Champions Day is misnamed after Saturday’s meeting at Ascot saw a number of red-hot favourites fail to cap their season in style.

Soft ground and tired legs at the end of a tough campaign threw up some surprise results with Stradivarius, Magical and Palace Pier all well beaten despite plenty of support from punters.

Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby suggested calling the last big Flat meeting of the season ‘Finale Day’ as opposed to the somewhat contrived ‘Champions’ label.

Ascot’s meeting on Saturday is contrived and if they want to have a final day in the UK, call it Finale Day. But it’s not Champions Day.

There is the argument to say that there are champion jockeys on show, and of course there are. But you can go to Yarmouth on a Monday and see Hollie Doyle, Ryan Moore and Tom Marquand and even Frankie Dettori.

In racing, you can see champion jockeys pretty much every day of the week, so it’s about the horses when you’re talking about Champions. And when it gets to the end of the year, coming after the Arc, the only race that really was a Champions race on Saturday, was the Champion Stakes.

The others have been kind of ‘created’. They’re entitled to be there, it was a great day’s racing and it was great entertainment and I sat down and watched every race and loved it all.

But I kept thinking ‘Champions? This is not – these are finale races.’

Stradivarius ran like he was ‘over the top’ after a hard season and we didn’t have any wonderful clashes because we’ve had them all by now. England has had its time in the sun this year – it’s had Royal Ascot and it has had York.

Then the horses came to Leopardstown for the Irish Champion Stakes and France for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting. And some will go on to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland next month where the weather is much drier and the ground much quicker and it is going to suit them all better.

Ascot was contrived. If they want to have a finals day in the UK, call if finale day. But it’s not Champions Day.

British Champion Stakes Ascot Addeybb October 17, 2020

Punchestown have a meeting after the Cheltenham Festival, but they don’t put ‘Champion’ in front of every race to hype it up more. The Irish horses will go, the English may or may not come, but there is huge prize money on offer. Aintree is the same.

Cheltenham is where the ‘Champions’ are decided. They don’t try and stick a meeting in after it and say: ‘We’ll do better than that’.

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