QIPCO British Champions Day 2023

The Gatekeeper not for catching in Balmoral Handicap (sponsored by QIPCO)

The Gatekeeper (25/1) made all up the far rail under Joe Fanning to win the concluding Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored by QIPCO) by a length.

The Middleham Park-owned winner, who proved his effectiveness on soft ground when scoring at Goodwood in August, took advantage of his draw in stall four, in a race where it paid to be drawn low.

Ropey Guest (40/1) ran another big race in an Ascot handicap to take second, while Docklands (7/1) filled third under Hayley Turner, who remains two shy of the 1,000 winner landmark.

Mark Johnston, assistant trainer to his son Charlie, said: “I think we knew The Gatekeeper would like the ground – I don’t know if that it is key to him, but we knew that he would handle it.

“We couldn’t help but note that front-runners have done very well today. So Mike Prince [of Middleham Park] in particular said to Joe, just jump and bowl along, which is what we tend to do anyway, so it has been perfectly suitable today.

“I think that is probably it for this season. One of the owners is talking about the Lincoln, which is an obvious target. And Joe’s not retiring, either!”

Fanning said: “The Gatekeeper has had a tough year, but he keeps running well. He loved that ground. He travelled well all the way and was never really in danger. These Saturday handicaps are nice to get so, yeah, it’s a good one.”

4.25pm Balmoral Handicap (sponsored by QIPCO)

1 The Gatekeeper (Middleham Park Racing XIV) Charlie Johnston 4-8-12 Joe Fanning 25/1

2 Ropey Guest (John Guest Racing) George Margarson 6-9-01 Tom Queally 40/1

3 Docklands (OTI Racing) Harry Eustace 3-9-03 Hayley Turner 7/1

20 ran          11/2F Awaal (12th)

Charlie Johnston – 1st winner on QIPCO British Champions Day

Joe Fanning – 1st winner on QIPCO British Champions Day