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Newmarket Dubai Future Champions Festival 2020 Betting Offers

horse silhouette with union jackThe idea behind a Future Champions Series had been in the pipeline for some before it was eventually launched in 2011. It resulted in some flat races being moved to Ascot, which played host to the finale of the Series known as British Champions Day, and other shifting to Newmarket. The latter racecourse hosted Future Champions Day, which was specifically for juvenile horses and gave people a chance to look at horses that might do well in coming seasons.

The Series has enjoyed a couple of different variations since then, including what was entitled the British Champions Weekend seeing racing take place at Newmarket on one day and then Ascot the following day. It was never quite right in the eyes of the Jockey Club, though, and so British Champions Day is run at Ascot as a standalone even, whilst the Future Champions Festival involves a combination of Future Champions Day and Cesarewitch Day taking place at Newmarket over the course of a weekend.

If you plan to bet on the meeting you can find extra value using the offers on this page.  Further down you can find the race cards and more event information.

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Future Champions Festival Race Schedule 2020

newmarket welcome stampThe clue about what to expect over the course of the weekend is in the Festival’s title. This is all about the horses of the future, but given flat racing horses hit their peak much earlier in life than their jump racing equivalents, that doesn’t mean that the races are boring. It’s a weekend filled with excitement, not only courtesy of the horse that are trying to prove their worth, but also thanks to some top-notch Group action.

The Friday is traditionally Autumn Ladies Day, when female guests to the racecourse get to dress up in their finest autumnal gear just before the weather turns wintery and the big coats and scarves have to come out. Things are just as fashionable on the course, with the highlight of the day unquestionably being the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile. Given that previous winners have gone on to victory in Classics such as the 1,000 Guineas and The Oaks, it’s definitely on the ‘one to watch’ list.

It says something about how thrilling the Saturday of the Festival is that it is considered to be the day of ‘proper racing’ when you consider that Ladies Day features four Group 1 races! That’s because Future Champions Day isn’t just a flash in the pan, but rather is used by trainers as a way to kick-start the careers of some special horses. Just in case you’re not sure you believe us on that front, bear in mind that previous winners include Frankel and Dawn Approach. With horses aiming to prove themselves, the day is filled with amazing racing you won’t want to miss.

Ladies Day – Friday 9th October 2020

Time Race Grade Distance
1:50 Cornwallis Stakes Group 3 5f
2:25 So Sharp Stakes Group 3 7f
3:00 Challenge Stakes Group 2 7f
3:35 Fillies’ Mile Group 1 1m
4:10 Old Rowley Cup Handicap Heritage Handicap 1m 4f
4:45 Maiden Fillies’ Stakes Class  3 – Plus 10 7f
5:20 Darley Pride Stakes Group 3 1m 2f

KEY: m – Mile(s), f – furlong(s), y – yards

Looking at the days in a little bit more detail, you’ll soon see that the Fillies’ Mile is merely the cream on top of a delicious cake full of races. First up is the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes, which is run over 5 furlongs and is open to 2-year-olds. Then comes the Godolphin Lifetime Care Oh So Sharp Stakes, which is a Group 3 offering for 2-year-old fillies.

Hot on the heals of those two Group 3 races is the Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes, which takes things up a gear as it’s a Group 2 race. It’s also for slightly older horses, being open to those aged 3 and over. It whets the appetite for the race of the day, which is the bet365 Fillies’ Mile, a Group 1 race for 2-year-old fillies run over 1 mile.

That’s the end of the Group races for now, but not the end of the racing worth watching. The Old Rowley Cup is a Heritage Handicap that often offers bettors a competitive field to choose from. At the other end of the scale is the The Godolphin Under Starters Orders Maiden Fillies’ Stakes, which is limited to maiden fillies and offers them a chance to test themselves on the biggest stage without their male counterparts.

The first day of the Festival is rounded off with the Darley Pride Stakes, which is for horses of either gender that are three or older. It’s an exciting way to finish the day, being not only the day’s last event but also a Group 3 offering. It’s a lovely end to what is normally a competitive day, whilst the Style Awards makes sure that that is true both on and off the course!

Future Champions Day – Saturday 10th October 2020

Time Race Grade Distance
1:45 Nursery Handicap Class 2 7f
2:20 Zetland Stakes Group 3 1m 2f
2:55 Autumn Stakes Group 3 1m
3:30 Dewhurst Stakes Group 1 7f
4:10 Cesarewitch Stakes Heritage Handicap 2m 2f
4:45 EBF Boadicea Stakes Listed 6f
5:20 Darley Stakes Group 3 1m 1f

Currently boasting the moniker of the day’s sponsor, which is Dubai, the Saturday of the Future Champions Festival is a must-watch for those of you hoping to glean a bit of information about the flat racing season to come. As well as some brilliant racing on the turf there’s also plenty of entertainment off it, not least of all after the racing has finished and music is the thing to get excited about.

It’s another 7-race card, with the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes sitting front and centre. It all gets underway with the Dubai Nursery Handicap Stakes, though, which is run over 7 furlongs and is a real taster for what’s to come. The Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stakes is the first of the day’s Group races, being a Group 3 offering that is run over 1 mile and 2 furlongs. It’s for 2-year-olds and is often one of the day’s most competitive events.

The thrilling races keep coming courtesy of the Dubai Autumn Stakes, which is another Group 3 event and is run over 1 mile. It was originally held at Ascot, but nowadays Newmarket calls it home and the punters love it. The Darley Dewhurst Stakes is the first Group 1 race of the day, but don’t mix it up with the Darley Stakes that closes the day out. This is for 2-year-olds with the exception of geldings and is run over 7 furlongs.

The Emirates Cesarewitch is a Heritage Handicap and is easily the longest race of the day, run as it is over 2 miles and 2 furlongs. The handicap nature of the race makes it a brilliant one for spectators, too. The penultimate race of the day is the Dubai British EBF Boadicea Fillies’ Stakes, which is a Listed offering, before the racing part of the day comes to a close courtesy of the aforementioned Darley Stakes. A Group 3 race, it’s the perfect way to finish a top Festival.

Feature Races

newmarket july course horses running down the hill

Barely a race goes by over the course of the Festival that isn’t worth taking about, so here’s a look at the main ones that you’ll want to consider having a punt on:

Cornwallis Stakes (Group 3)

Let’s start at the beginning with the Cornwallis Stakes, which is open to horses aged 2 with a weight of 9 stone and 1 pound, though fillies get a 3 pound allowance, Group 1 and Group 2 race winners get a 5 pound penalty and Group 3 winners receive a penalty of 3 pounds. Run over 5 furlongs, this Group 3 race is sponsored by Newmarket Academy and was first run in 1946.

Back then it was run at Ascot over 6 furlongs, before being extended to a mile in 1988 and cut back to its current length in 1957. It was run in the early part of October until it was transferred to Newmarket as part of the jiggery-pokery done to create Future Champions Day in 2014. It has been a Group 3 race ever since the current grading for races was introduced in 1971.

Obviously the fact that it’s limited to 2-year-olds means that no horse has won it more than once, but Joe Mercer, Lester Piggott and Martin Dwyer have all won it three times as jockeys. Two of Piggott’s wins came under the training of Noel Murless, who added another win in 1973 to make himself the race’s standout trainer.

So Sharp Stakes (Group 3)

It might have a name reminiscent of a barbershop quartet, but the Oh So Sharp Stakes is serious business. Inaugurated in 1987 and named in honour of a horse that was trained at Newmarket and won the Fillies’ Triple Crown in 1985, it started life as a Conditions race before being Listed in 1993. It was then promoted to Group 3 in 2007, which is the classification it has maintained since.

Run over 7 furlongs, the horse is only for 2-year-old fillies with a weight of 9 stone. Group 1 and Group 2 race winners are given a penalty of 5 pounds, whilst Group 3 race winners take a 3 pound penalty. As with many other races in the Festival, the event hasn’t always been held in October and used to be part of the Cambridgeshire Meeting until it was moved in 2014. It became part of the Future Champions Festival the year after.

No jockey has won the race more times than the four victories that Richard Hills managed between 1994 and 2009, though the likes of Willie Carson, William Buick, Ryan Moore, Kieren Fallon and Jimmy Fortune have made a good go of it with two wins apiece. Similarly Saeed bin Suroor, Roger Varian, Richard Hannon Senior, John Dunlop and Henry Cecil, amongst others, have done well as trainers with more than one win but they can’t get close to the six wins of Sir Michael Stoute.

Challenge Stakes (Group 2)

If the racing has already offered plenty of excitement then the Challenge Stakes allows things to go up a gear, being the first Group 2 race of the Festival and seeing horses aged 3 and over take to the turf. It’s run over 7 furlongs and has the following weight information for you to consider:

  • 3-year-olds: 9 stone 1 pound
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • Fillies and mares are given a 3 pound allowance
  • Group 1 race winners receive a 5 pound penalty
  • Group 2 race winners revive a 3 pound penalty

The race is one of the oldest to feature in the Festival, having been established in 1878 as the First Great Challenge Stakes. Back then it was for horses aged 2 and up and was run over 6 furlongs. It was a Group 3 race when the current grading system came into effect in 1971, then it was made into a Group 2 offering in 1987. That came after the 1977 decision to extend it to 7 furlongs and the 1985 choice to make it for 2-year-olds only.

The Challenge Stakes was part of Champions Day until 2011 when it was moved to be one of the main races for the new Future Champions Day. At the time of writing a grand total of 11 horses have won the race twice, but none have done so three times. Those horses are:

  • Energy
  • Mephisto
  • Kilcock
  • Sonatura
  • Chacornac
  • Succour
  • Hornet’s Beauty
  • Phalaris
  • Boldboy
  • Moorestyle
  • Limato

Lester Piggott has won the race more times than any other jockey with seven wins to his name, though it’s worth noting that Frankie Dettori is closing him down with every passing year. Some well-known names in the world of training have won this one, including Andrew Balding, Dick Hern and Henry Cecil. Even so, it’s Barry Hills that leads the way as a trainer thanks to six victories between 1987 and 2010. Four of those came courtesy of his son Michael.

Fillies’ Mile (Group 1)

The Fillies’ Mile is probably the standout race of the day, if for no other reason than it’s the only Group 1 offering. As its name suggests, it’s run over a mile and is limited to 2-year-old fillies. The weight is 9 stone and it takes place on the Rowley Mile. Established in 1973, it was originally based at Ascot and known as the Green Shield Stakes because of a sponsorship deal with the catalogue company of the same name. When they rebranded as Argos so did the race, becoming the Argos Star Fillies’ Mile.

The race became a Group 3 offering in 1975 and then three years later Hoover took over sponsorship duties. It was promoted to Group 2 in 1986 and then Group 1 four years after that. It got its first taste of life at Newmarket in 2005 when Ascot was closed for redevelopment, eventually moving to the course permanently in 2011 as part of the Cambridgeshire Meeting. It wasn’t moved Future Champions Day until 2014, when it and the Rockfel Stakes switches places in the racing calendar.

The race enjoyed a stint as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge between 2008 and 2012 when winners would be automatically welcome to take part in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf. As with so many other flat races around the country, the leading jockey is Frankie Dettori who has won it six times to date. That’s the same number of wins as Henry Cecil has managed as a trainer, making him the best in the business for this event.

One of Cecil’s wins was with Oh So Sharp, the horse that one of the other races over the weekend is named in honour of. This race has royal connections, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II having won it twice as an owner. Her first win came in 1973 with Escorial, whilst he second came eight years later when Height of Fashion won.

Old Rowley Cup (Heritage Handicap)

The Old Rowley Cup isn’t as noteworthy as many of the other races run during the course of the Festival, but it’s a Heritage Handicap and that means that it at least merits a mention. At the time of writing it’s only been run five times, so you can see why it’s not quite at the level of some of the other events over the weekend.

Run over 1 mile and 4 furlongs, the race is for horses aged 3. Given it’s a handicap, there’s no weight information to speak of and all of the decisions on that front are made by the handicapper according to the perceived ability of each participating horse.

Darley Pride Stakes (Group 3)

Another Group 3 race, the Pride Stakes is for mares and fillies aged 3 and over. It’s run over 1 mile and 2 furlongs and was known as the Severals Stakes up until 2013. Run for the first time in 1998, it was a Listed race until it got its current status in 2019.

Confusion over this race is entirely fair, given that there was a for fillies and mares run at Ascot called the Princess Royal Stakes that was moved to Newmarket and renamed as the Pride Stakes, before it moved back to Ascot and was given the title of the British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes prior to this race coming into existence.

Chain Of Daisies is the only horse to have won the race twice, doing so in 2015 and 2016. Neither race had Frankie Dettori on the back of Chain Of Daisies, which is surprising given the fact that he’s the leading jockey with 5 wins to his name. All but one of those wins came under the traineeship of Barry Hills, who also won with Albasharah in 2014 to make himself the leading trainer.

Zetland Stakes (Group 3)

The Zetland Stakes is also a Group 3 offering, limited to 2-year-olds and run on the Rowley Mile over 1 mile and 2 furlongs. It was a Listed race initial and was then downgraded to being a Conditions race in 2007 before it regained its Listed status eight years later.

Originally run as part of the final meeting on the Newmarket schedule, it was moved to be part of the Festival in 2015 and was given Group 3 status four years after that. The weight information for this one is as follows:

  • Weight: 9 stone 2 pounds
  • Fillies are given a 5 pound allowance
  • Group 1 and Group 2 race winners receive a 5 pound penalty
  • Group 3 race winners receive a 3 pound penalty
  • Listed race winners receive a 2 pound penalty

Greville Starkey and Ryan Moore lead the way as jockeys with three wins apiece to date, whilst Mark Johnston is the man that has trained more winners than anyone else in this race. The likes of Jason Weaver and Richard Hughes as jockeys and Aidan O’Brien and Henry Cecil as trainers are also on the list of people who’ve won the race more than once.

In terms of what to look out for, Bob’s Return won the race in 1992 before winning the Great Voltigeur Stakes and the St Leger Stakes the year after. Coronet, meanwhile, was victorious in this race in 2016 and them the Ribblesdale Stakes the year after, the Middleton Stakes in 2018 and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in 2019.

Autumn Stakes (Group 3)

A Group 3 race for horses aged 2 and with a weight of 9 stone and 1 pound, this race gives a 3 pound allowance to mares as well as a 5 pound penalty to Group 1 and Group 2 race winners or a 3 pound penalty to Group 3 race winners. It’s run over a mile on the Rowley Mile and first took place in 1987.

Back then it was run at Ascot and saw its first running abandoned because of water logging. It was a Listed race until 2003, at which point it was promoted to its current status. It got moved to Newmarket in 2011 as part of the new Future Champions Day fixture, shifting to be part of the Cesarewitch Handicap meeting in 2014. It was made part of the Future Champions Festival when the event was created in 2015.

Horses that do well in the Autumn Stakes can often be seen in the Racing Post Trophy, with Kingston Hill being an example of a horse to win both in 2013. Pat Eddery leads the way with three wins as a jockey, his final one of which was on Big Bad Bob for the trainer John Dunlop. Dunlop enjoyed two wins before that, giving him three wins as well and seeing him lead the way for trainers.

Dewhurst Stakes (Group 1)

Another Group 1 race, the Dewhurst Stakes was created by a close friend of Karl Person’s father called Thomas Gee. Run for the first time in 1875 when it was known as the Dewhurst Plate, it was named in honour of the Dewhurst Stud at Wadhurst that Gee owned. It got off to a notable start when the first four winners of the race all went on to win at least one of the Classics run in the following year.

It was run during the Champions Day meeting until it became part of the Future Champions Day even in 2011. It was made part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge in the same year, with race winners being invited to take part in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf but was removed in 2012. The most prestigious race for juvenile horses in Britain, this is absolutely the race to watch if you want some information about the following season’s Classics. Churchill won this event in 2016, for example, before winning the 2,000 Guineas the following year.

The race is for 2-year-olds, excluding geldings, with a weight of 9 stone and 1 pound. Fillies get a 3 pound allowance. Lester Piggott loved the Dewhurst Stakes, winning it 10 times, which is more than any other jockey. John Porter and Frank Butters share the honour for trainers, though, with eight wins apiece.

Cesarewitch Stakes (Heritage Handicap)

The second noteworthy handicap race we need to tell you about, the Cesarewitch is open to horses aged 3 and over. The length of the race is partly why it’s open to older horses, given that it’s run over 2 miles and 2 furlongs and that requires maturity and stamina to handle. It’s run right-handed on an L and the fact it’s a handicapper means there’s no specific weight information to give you.

An anglicised version of Tsesarevich, which was the title of the person who was next in line for the Imperial Russian throne, the Cesarewitch was named after Tsesarevich Alexander in the wake of his donation of £300 to the Jockey Club. He later became Tsar Alexander II. The race was run for the first time in 1839, which was the same year that the Cambridgeshire Handicap was created. They soon became known as the Autumn Double.

Originally the Cambridgeshire was run after the Cesarewitch but this was eventually reversed. Three horses won both races in the 19th century but it’s a double that is rarely attempted nowadays. It was run during the Champions Day Meeting before becoming part of Future Champions Day in 2011 and then the Future Champions Festival in 2015, where it has remained since.

Aaim To Prosper is the only horse to have won the race twice, whilst Doug Smith has won it six times as a jockey. William Day and Mathew Dawson both stake claim to the title of most successful trainer, thanks to four wins apiece. Sergeant Cecil won this in 2005, the same year as the Ebor Handicap, then won the Doncaster Cup in 2006 and the Yorkshire Cup the year after that. Detroit City, meanwhile, won this in the same year as the Triumph Hurdle during the Cheltenham Festival.

EBF Boadicea Stakes (Listed)

A Listed race for mares and fillies aged 3 and up, the Boadicea Fillies’ Stakes is run over 6 furlongs. It’s not one of the most talked about races, but don’t tell that to Frankie Dettori, Jamie Spencer or Richard Hughes who have all won the race twice each. One of Hughes’ wins came on Honesty Fair, the only horse to have won it more than once to date.

Jeremy Glover trained Honesty Fair for both races, giving himself two wins as a trainer, but William Haggas leads the way with three. Frankie Dettori, normally better known as a jockey, won this race as a trainer in 2018 with Perfection.

Darley Stakes (Group 3)

The last race worth telling you about is also the last Group race of the Festival, namely the Darley Stakes. It’s open to horses aged 3 and over and lasts for 1 mis and 1 furlong, taking place on the Rowley Mile. The following weight information is at play:

  • 3-year-olds: 8 stone 13 pounds
  • 4-year-olds and over: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • Fillies and mares get a 3 pound allowance
  • Group 1 race winners are given a penalty of 7 pounds
  • Group 2 race winners are given a penalty of 5 pounds
  • Group 3 race winners are given a penalty of 3 pounds

Inaugurated in 1987, the Darley Stakes was abandoned in its first running because of structural damage caused by high winds. It was Listed initially but was upgraded to its current grading in 2003. The race’s leading jockey is Richard Hills, who won it four times between 1997 and 2010, whilst Josh Gosden is the leading training thanks to his three victories between 1991 and 2017.

About The Future Champions Festival

newmarket racecourse from above with july and rowley courses marked

The Future Champions Festival isn’t the last meeting that Newmarket has but it’s possibly the most exciting. It really does see the great and the good of flat racing come out to play. Not only those with horses to race but also those that want to gain some indication of how youthful horses are likely to do in the future.

Newmarket is a racecourse that has plenty of exciting meetings during the racing year, not least of all the two Classics that it plays host to. If you want to watch established horses ply their trade then they’re the ones to look out for, but if you’re keen to get an idea about the horses that might win those races in the future then this is where to look.

As with the Cambridgeshire Meeting that takes place a few weeks before this, the Future Champions Festival is mostly run on the Rowley Mile as the July Course at Newmarket is reserved for summer racing.

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