Poptronic proves a smash hit with brave win

Sam James enjoyed his biggest day in the saddle, with Poptronic all heart to deliver a surprise victory in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot.

A winner of the Lancashire Oaks earlier in the season, Karl Burke’s four-year-old was sent off at an unfancied 22-1 after disappointing in Group One company the last twice.

However, she showed her quality on British Champions Day and having been to the fore throughout in the hands of James – who was striking at Group One level for the first time – she had plenty in the tank as those from a positions further back presented a stern challenge in the closing stages.

Both eventual second Bluestocking and the 3-1 favourite Jackie Oh in third stayed on stoutly to push Poptronic all the way inside the final half-furlong, but they could not get by the gutsy northern raider, who finished a neck clear at the winning post. Frankie Dettori had to settle for fifth place with Free Wind.

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James said: “What a day, I can’t believe it. It’s a bit surreal. I’d like to thank the owners and Karl. It didn’t go right the last day in France when she was a bit buzzy, but she’d shown her ability to beat Sea Silk Road at Haydock and she went and won a Group One.

“She is a little bit on her toes, but Karl does a great job with her and so does Kelly (Burke’s daughter), so a lot of credit goes to her as well.

“She’s a good mover so you wouldn’t think softer ground would help, but all she does is gallop. She jumped really well today, I didn’t want to be in front, but I was able to get a breather at a crucial time. No one came and joined me, so I thought I would have a chance and she was very tough.

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“I knew turning in she’d be thereabouts, given how she quickened at the three, and she was able to fight them all off.”

He added: “I’d not even ridden at Champions Day before so to have a winner is surreal. All thanks to Karl for putting me on these horses, there are plenty of other lads queuing up to ride her.”

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