QIPCO British Champions Day 2023

Poptronic makes it a dream day for Sam James in QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares stakes

Poptronic (22/1) made it a day to remember for rider Sam James as the duo registered their first respective G1 wins in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Poptronic, who carries the colours of her breeders David & Yvonne Blunt, was keen early on before settling into a good rhythm on the front end.

The four-year-old kicked off the home turn and kept finding down the straight as the chasing pack tried to close, ultimately scoring by a neck from the staying-on Bluestocking (6/1). The 3/1 favourite Jackie Oh was a further neck away in third.

Sam James said: “This is a really great day – I can’t quite believe it; it’s a bit surreal. I’d just like to thank the owners and Karl [Burke, trainer].

“It didn’t go right the last time in France [September 30, Prix de Royallieu] but Poptronic has obviously shown loads of ability. She beat Sea Silk Road, who won the Group One over there, at Haydock in a Group Two.

“She’s not the easiest – she’s a little bit on her toes, but Karl does a great job with her, and so does Kelly [Burke], who rides her out every day. A lot of credit goes to her as well.

“Poptronic is a good mover and you’d think that softer ground wouldn’t help, but all she does is gallop, and she’s tough. I didn’t try to fight her today; she jumped really well and I didn’t want to be in front, but she settled well in front and I was able to get a breather into her when I needed to. And I knew turning in we’d be there or thereabouts, the way she quickened up from the three, and she was very tough and game.

“I am delighted. I’ve never even ridden here before – on Champions Day, that is – and to have a winner, and the filly in the last finished fourth and ran really well as well.

“I am very grateful to Karl for putting me on her, because I’d say there’d be plenty of lads queuing up to ride her and he and the owners are very good to me to leave me on her.”

“When things don’t come straightaway you can get a bit disheartened but when you’re riding for decent trainers, especially people like Karl, those Group Ones are always going to come.”

David Blunt said: “This is once in a lifetime for us, to be honest. We’re against big battalions today and the small owner-breeder comes up trumps, which is unbelievable.

“Poptronic is as tough as old rope. She had been a bit unfortunate in a couple of her previous races, we felt anyway, and I didn’t think she deserved to be the outsider that she was and she’s proved us all right in that regard.

“To have a runner in a Group One, never mind the breeder of a winner of a Group One, is amazing.”

Rossa Ryan said of Bluestocking: “Massive run. I would have loved to have seen what would have happened if it was on the outer track… she will be a better filly next year.”

Ralph Beckett added: “She ran her race, delighted with her – we were second best.”

Aidan O’Brien said of Jackie Oh and Red Riding Hood (6th): “Red Riding Hood got into a bit of a tussle with Dylan [Browne McMonagle, rider of Above The Curve (4th)] up the straight but still kept coming. Jackie Oh was drawn out a little bit but ran a great race. She maybe doesn’t want the ground that bad. That was her first time at a mile and a half and you couldn’t say she didn’t get it, but Ryan said maybe a mile and on better ground. We know that she is perfect over a mile and a quarter.”

2.25pm QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1)

1 Poptronic (David & Yvonne) Karl Burke 4-9-07 Sam James 22/1

2 Bluestocking (Juddmonte) Ralph Beckett 3-9-01 Rossa Ryan 6/1

3 Jackie Oh (Triermore Stud, Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-01 Ryan Moore 3/1F

14 ran

Karl Burke – 1st winner on QIPCO British Champions Day

Sam James – 1st winner on QIPCO British Champions Day