Ruby Walsh: Why John Gosden’s horses & Magical floundered on Champions Day

Champions Day was one race too many for several star names.


Ruby Walsh believes a number of horses struggled on Champions Day at Ascot due to tiredness at the end of a long season.

The finale of the Flat campaign saw several well-backed runners, including the John Gosden-trained trio of Stradivarius, Mishriff and Palace Pier, all fail to deliver.

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

Meanwhile, Aidan O’Brien’s Magical also appeared lethargic as she failed to defend her British Champion Stakes crown – losing out to last year’s runner-up Addeybb.

Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s twice-weekly From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby explained how they looked to have gone off the boil after an energy-sapping year.

What happened at Ascot, happens in jumps racing too. I would often have gone from Cheltenham, after riding for Paul Nicholls, and turn up to Aintree to ride the same horses and they would just have gone ‘over the top’.

It was one race too many.

And that looked to be the case last Saturday for quite a few horses. It was a race too many for Stradivarius, Mishriff, Palace Pier. A lot of the John Gosden horses underperformed, and that’s just because its the end of the season and they’ve had a jam-packed campaign.

Ruby Walsh: Hollie Doyle’s Champions Day wins show racing at its best

It was quite an intense period at the start of the season because of Coronavirus, but things were back on an even kilter by Goodwood and most definitely by York in August. Leopardstown played out in its usual position in September and the Arc was where it always is.

But you could definitely see  the Irish Champion Stakes left its mark on Magical when she left the stalls. She looked flat and lethargic.

Compare Ryan Moore’s body language on Magical to Tom Marquand’s on Addeybb, Frankie Dettori’s on Mishriff and even Pierre-Charles Boudot’s on Skalleti – they were all on horses racing with enthusiasm, whereas Ryan Moore was having to nudge to try and hold a position that he couldn’t get into. Then he ended up in the wrong place because his horse wasn’t going well enough early in the race, to get him into the right place.

British Champion Stakes Ascot Addeybb October 17, 2020

Magical looked tired, and that could have been down to the ground as well. The slower ground at Ascot, especially at Swinley Bottom, didn’t suit her, but she could go to the Breeders’ Cup Turf and bounce back yet.

Coat changes

Because it’s coming into winter, clipping would have started for a lot of horses. It shouldn’t affect their performance, it’s just a product of the colder days. Horses grow more hair to keep themselves warm.

But you could see some of the horses on Champions Day were ‘over the top’. I find it hard to tell by just looking at their coats – maybe other people can – but I certainly couldn’t tell until they started racing.

*Odds quoted on the widget are ante-post prices which means that if your selection does not run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf for whatever reason, you will lose your stake under traditional ante-post rules.

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