The Guide to British Champions Day
With the first race taking place in 2011, British Champions' Day is now the richest race fixture in the land with more than £3,000,000 up for grabs with several major Group 1 and Group 2 contests anchoring the card.
Each British Champions' Day race was previously run at a different time of year but have now been amalgamated into a single day's action at Ascot. The key fixtures of British Champions' Day are the Champion Stakes, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the Diadem Stakes, the Pride Stakes and the prestigious Jockey Club Cup.
The event was created to rival the American Breeders' Cup and Dubai World Cup day at Meydan Racecourse. The day's fixtures will serve as the de facto climax to the flat season in the UK and there are five racing divisions – fillies/mares, sprint, mile, middle distance and a staying category.
The first British Champions' Day runs on October 15, 2011 at Ascot Racecourse.
British Champions' Day is the conclusion of what is now being branded as the British Champions' Series – which kicks off in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and includes the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, the July Meeting, Glorious Goodwood, the York Ebor Festival and the St Leger Meeting at Doncaster. Virtually all of the top racecourses in England play prominent parts in the British Champions' Series.
Observers can expect to see a wide assortment of high-profile contenders from all of the top yards competing in European flat Racing. Some high-profile shippers from North America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East could also find themselves in contention on British Champions' Day.
The Group 1 Champion Stakes was previously run over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket and served as a “win and you're in” event for the Breeders' Cup Turf. It is a 1m2f straight turf race for three-year-old's and up. Popular Juddmonte-owned runner Twice Over (Observatory) won back-to-back Champion Stakes' in 2009/10 with Tom Queally up for both trips.
The Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
A 1m contest for three-year-old's and up and it will remain at Ascot for the British Champions' Day fixture. Look for Godolphin to attempt to continue their dominance of this race with Saeed Bin Suroor training five winners between 1999 and 2010 with Frankie Dettori in the irons for four of those occasions.
The Group 2 Diadem Stakes
A straight 6f contest for turf sprinters. The current record-holder remains Baron's Pit (Night Shift), who flashed a lightning 1:10.74 with Johnny Murtagh up. The race is generally won by assertive contenders who boast prominent finishing kicks. No jockey or trainer has a stranglehold on the race though it is usually won by a higher-profile jockey.
The Group 2 Pride Stakes
A 1m4f contest for fillies and mares going right-handed. It was formerly run over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket. Three-year-olds have been able to hold their own in this race over the past few years even though they are usually facing prominent mares as old as six-years-old (though it should be noted that five is the oldest age of a Pride Stakes winner).
The Group 3 Jockey Club Cup
A 2m staying contest that previously ran at Newmarket each year. It traces its origins all the way back to 1873 and boasts a 7 lb weight penalty for Group 1 winners, 5 lbs for Group 2 winners and 3 lbs penalty for Group 3 winners. Further Flight (Pharly) ran his name into the history by taking this race five times on the bounce – winning his last one at nine years of age.
With so many high-profile contests all unfolding on the same day, British Champions' Day is one of the premier opportunities for elaborate multi-race wagers and high-paying tote pools like the Jackpot, the Quadpot and the toteScoop6.
While British Champions' Day will certainly be a fantastic day out, it represents one of the most unique opportunities for unseasoned bettors to wager on a number of big races all in a short period of time. For novice punters looking to have a wager on British Champions' Day, it's advisable to have a crack at the Placepot – where you only have to select placing horses in lieu of the outright winners.
This gives you more “outs” and ensures a better value wager – though you likely won't win a life-changing sum. Novice punters are advised to bet on higher-profile races as they feature more consistent runners than what you'll find running on the all-weather.