This year the total prize pool for this one day is expected to rise above £4,200,000 making this by far the most valuable single day of racing in the European flat racing calendar. There are four group one, a group two and a seriously funded handicap to look forward to at one of the best racecourses in the world.
Champions Day encourages some serious bets from serious punters, it’s a highly competitive day for the bookies and this means there will be plenty of great value money back, free bet and enhanced odds deals to look forward to. You will find all the very best promotions both ante-post and through the day on this page. Further down you can see details of the racecard, history and more.
Latest British Champions Day Offers
Schedule and Racecard
The QIPCO British Champions Day is one of the few major race meetings that is not part of a wider festival, rather it stands on its own as single fabulous day of racing and the culmination of the British Champions Series. Below you can find the racecard for the event including information on prize money, distances and grades.
Champions Day Saturday 21st October 2017
With so many fantastic group races and a highly valued handicap to cram in there barely time to take a breath on Champions Day from the first race to the last. You can find full history and information about each of these races below the racecard.
KEY: m – Miles, f – furlong(s), y – yards
Long Distance Cup
The first race of the day is also the longest at 2mile s in length. The group 2 race is open to horses aged 3-year-old or more with a prize fund of £350,000. The race was originally called the Jockey Club Cup, founded in 1843 at the home of the Jockey Club at Newmarket, and run over 2 and a quarter mile. It is the second richest long distance race of the year after the Gold Cup held during Royal Ascot.
The race was reduced in 1959 to just a mile and a half before being lengthened to it current 2 miles four years later in 1963. The race gained group 3 status in 1973 and was moved to the Newmarket Champions Day in 2000 before its transfer to Ascot in 2011. In 2014 the race was further upgraded to group two, the only group 2 race of the day, with a decent prize pool to match.
The Long Distance Cup as the name suggests is the long distance final in the British Champions Series. The most successful horse in the race was Further Flight who won the race in five consecutive years between 1991 and 1995 with trainer Barry Hills who also won the race with two additional horses in 1999 and the last race to be held at Newmarket in 2010.
Champions Sprint Stakes
The second race, and the first group one race of the day, is the Champions Sprint Stakes and is also open to horses of three years of age or more. The dash over 6 furlongs is the shortest race of the meeting has become a favourite for Irish trained nags with the winner receiving around £375,000.
Officially the race was re-branded in 2011 from the Diadem Stakes, a race founded in 1946 and named after the famous Diadem who rose to fame after the first world war. The Diadem Stakes moved from a group 3 race in 1971 to group two in 1996 before earning its group one status in 2015. Although the race heralds from the Diadem Stakes it now comes with completely different conditions, very similar to the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Lester Piggott is the leading jockey in this race having won it on seven different occasions. The Champions Sprint Stakes is the final race of the British Champions Series sprint division.
Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes
As the name suggests this run is open to fillies’ and mares 3yo+. The group one middle distance race goes over a mile and four furlongs and is the final of the fillies and mares’ category of the British Champions Series. The group one race pays around £350,000 to the winner.
The Champions Fillies’ and Mares Stakes was originally named the Princess Royal Stakes and similar to the Diadem Stakes was established in 1946 and was run during Ascot’s meeting in late September. The original race was named after Princess Mary, the Princess Royal in 1946, and has always been run over the distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs.
When grading was introduced in 1971 the race commanded a group 3 status before receiving an upgrade to group 2 in 2008 when it moved to Newmarket. The race was re-branded to the Pride Stakes before it was re-branded again to the Champions Fillies’ and Mares Stakes upon moving back to Ascot as part of the new Champions Day in 2011. The race became group one in 2013.
Lester Piggott is also the top jockey in this race winning it no less than eight times between 1959 and 1984.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
One of the most sought after titles in flat racing and up there as perhaps the biggest race in the world over one mile. With a prize fund this year of over £1,100,000 and around £650,000 for the winner victory in this face can bring both fame and fortune to the victor.
The three-years-old and up race open to both sexes was renamed in 1955 from the Knights’ Royal Stakes in honour of the newly coronated Queen Elizabeth II. The race gained group two status in 1971 and was rightfully given group one classification in 1987. As with all the other races this switched to the October Champions Day meeting in 2011 and is now the final of the mile division of the British Champions Series.
Willie Carson is the leading rider for the QEII stakes having won the race 8 times from 1975-95. The race also provided Frankie Dettori with his first group 1 win, and first of five QEII stakes wins, in 1990. The race was won by perhaps the greatest miler in history, Frankel, in 2011.
The Champion Stakes
By the time the fifth race of the day, and fourth group one run, comes around the atmosphere at Ascot is electric. The Champion Stakes is middle-distance category final of the British Champions Series paying an astonishing nearly £800,000 to the winner from a £1,300,000 prize pool.
The Champion Stakes is the most valuable 1 mile 2-furlong race in Europe and the feature race on Champions day, a day where any of the other races would easily be the feature race at a lesser meeting.
Similar to the Long Distance Cup the race was originally held at Newmarket where it was established in 1877. The race went straight in with group one status in 1971 when the classification system started and represented a jewel in the crown at Newmarket before it moved to Ascot along with the Long Distance Cup and the Fillies’ and Mares Stakes in 2011.
The move to Ascot’s Champions Day also gave a huge cash injection to the prize fund for this race, in it’s first year it became the richest horse race in Britain over the Epsom Derby. Frankel famously won the race in 2012 establishing himself as the world best race horse at the time with his 14th straight victory, it was also his last before retiring to stud.
Most big meetings finish up with a couple of token big field handicap races for punters to place a few each-way bets with their day’s winnings. This is certainly not the case on Champions Day. The Balmoral Handicap commands a tasty prize fund with a decent £160k+ for the winner.
The Class two race with a usual field of 20+ runners is a great way to end a perfect day of racing giving punters the chance to pick up on a decent outsider with an each-way punt. As with all the races of the day it is open to 3-year-olds+ and as handicaps go it’s a fast one, run over just a mile.
About British Champions Days at Ascot
The British Champions Day was created in 2011 by bringing together a series of historic group races from the late-September Ascot meeting and the Newmarket Champions Day. The five group races became the final for five different categories of the British Champions Series:
- Long Distance Cup – long-distance final
- Champions Sprint Stakes – sprint-category final
- Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes – fillies and mares final
- Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – mile-division final
- Champion Stakes – middle-distance category final
The move to Champions Day also came with a vast increase in prize monies available the result of which is now a race day that sees a greater concentration of the leading jockeys and horses than any other single day of British racing.
Champions Day 2016 was the best yet with a record of 256 horses entering for a the six races, up from the previous record of 245, this included nearly 80 group one race winners. French Derby winner Almanzor matched all expectation romping home in the Champions Stakes beating l’Arc de Triomphe winner Found. Following the success of 2016 the 2017 meeting promises even higher prize money and some top betting promotions to go with it.
For more about Ascot including the history of the course see our Royal Ascot page.