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Andrew Balding excited about Champions Day at Ascot as Oisin Murphy and William Buick battle it out for Flat jockeys' championship title

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Both the jockey and trainer championship titles are the topic of conversation as QIPCO Champions Day takes centre stage Ascot on Saturday.

In the jockeys’ championship, the fight between Lambourn-based Oisin Murphy and William Buick is set to go down to the wire.

The showdown will see both jockeys have strong rides on a day that will include four Group 1 races, including the QIPCO Champion Stakes.

Andrew Balding will have some good chances at Ascot
Andrew Balding will have some good chances at Ascot

Kingsclere trainer Andrew Balding, who is battling out in the trainers’ championship, has been impressed with both Murphy and Buick this season.

“William did start with us as an apprentice, he was my stable jockey for a season after his apprenticeship as well and we’re just as fond as him as we are with Oisin.

“It is tough seeing them fight it out, but Oisin has done such a fantastic job for us and I would love him to win, but if William turned the table then it would be a welcome result for our end.

“It is really exciting and it’s a proper climax to be concluded on Champions Day.”

The trainers’ battle is expected to intensify and this weekend will have a huge say on where the title will end up.

Charlie Appleby leads the race, but both Balding and the duo of John & Thady Gosden still have chances.

The Park House handler holds entries for some of the big races at Ascot, with Alcohol Free set to line up in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

“It looks like the Queen Elizabeth could be the race of the year with Baaeed being a huge talent as he is unbeaten and Palace Pier is the top older horse.

“Hopefully Alcohol Free will be in the mix as well because she is a dual Group 1 winner already this year and it will be an exciting race.

“It’s obviously our best chance, but we have some outside chances in some of the other races too.

Alcohol Free
Alcohol Free

“It is going down to the wire and it will be the most significant day of the trainer’s championship as well.

“We have a mountain to climb and both of our main rivals are very well armed at this meeting and although it’s unlikely we’ll give it our best shot.”

Berkshire Rocco will take his chance in the Long Distance Cup, while Happy Power (Champions Sprint Stakes) and Foxes Tales (Champion Stakes) will be in contention on Saturday.

“Berkshire Rocco is a horse that finished second in the Ledger last year and he is a high class staying prospect.

“He has had a light campaign this year and he goes there in good shape, while we have Happy Power in the Sprint and Foxes Tales in the Champions Stakes.

“I can see him [Foxes Tales] running well, probably not winning, but running well enough to get placed.”

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