Horse racing fans are in for a treat tomorrow, as some of the world’s top jockeys and horses will be at Ascot for the final event of the European Flat racing season, QIPCO British Champions Day.
First held in 2011, British Champions Day includes some historic races and, this year, boasts a prize fund of more than £4 million.
British Champions Day – What’s On the Schedule?
The QIPCO British Champions Day programme includes six races, five of which are British Champions Series finales. Here’s a guide to each race.
The Long Distance Cup
This two mile (3,200 metres) race marks the end of the 2016 QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Series. Originally known as the Jockey Club Cup, it was first held at Newmarket in 1873.
Open to thoroughbreds aged three year and older, it has been classified as a Group 2 race since 2014. Previous victors have included big names like Frankie Dettori, who won on Veracity (2008) and Flying Officer (2015).
The Sprint Stakes
Known by its current name since 2011, the Sprint Stakes has been on the racing calendar since 1946. Back then, it was named the Diadem Stakes, after the winner of the 1917 edition of the 1000 Guineas.
Now the final of the British Champions Series sprint category, it’s been won by a host of horse racing stars, including Lester Piggott, who triumphed on seven occasions. Held over six furlongs (1,207 metres), it has been a Group 1 race since 2014.
Fillies and Mares Stakes
The finale of the British Champions Fillies and Mares Series, this one mile, four furlong (2,414 metres) race’s history dates back to 1946. Originally named the Princess Royal Stakes, it was given its current title in 2011, and is now a Group 1 race.
Last year’s winner was Simple Verse, ridden by Andrea Atzeni – the pair’s victory was the perfect end to a superb season in which they also won the 2015 St. Leger Stakes.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes’ prize fund of £1 million is the largest of any of the European mile races. First run in 1955, the event has been won by the likes of Brigadier Gerard, Desert Prince and Frankel, and it’s the finale of the 2016 British Champions Series’ mile races.
Willie Carson received the winner’s trophy eight times during the course of his racing career, and the event was also one of Frankie Dettorri’s “Magnificent Seven” on 28 September 1996, when he won every race that took place at Ascot that day.
The QIPCO Champion Stakes
Boasting a £1.3 million prize fund, this one mile and two furlong (2,102 metres) race marks the end of the season for the Middle Distance category of the British Champions Series. Open to thoroughbreds aged three years and over, this Group One race was established in 1877.
The 2012 edition of the QIPCO Champion Stakes was the last race of Frankel’s career and his fourteenth back-to-back victory. Last year’s victor was Dermot Weld on Fascinating Rock.
The Balmoral Handicap
The final race on the British Champions Day card, this is a one mile event with a £250,000 prize fund. Named after an earlier race, the new Balmoral Handicap first took place in 2014, and was won by Louis Steward on Bronze Angel. In 2015, Musaddas, ridden by Eddie Greatrex, was first past the post.
Will you be watching the British Champions Day action at Ascot this year? Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below.