The climax to the British Flat racing season will take another big leap forward in 2014 with the alignment of QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot and Dubai Future Champions Day at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile to create a £4.5m ‘Champions Weekend’, featuring six Group 1 races on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 October 2014.
This will present a fantastic shop window for the top level of British Flat racing, generating a whole raft of benefits for British racing as a whole and Newmarket Racecourses, Dubai Future Champions Day and QIPCO British Champions Day in particular.
The new ‘Champions Weekend’, with both days shown live on Channel 4, will include the world’s highest-rated race from last year, the QIPCO Champion Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day, and the world’s highest-rated two-year-old race, the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes, the centrepiece of Dubai Future Champions Day.
Six Group 1 contests, three on each day, will put British racing firmly in the international spotlight.
The Group 1 Fillies’ Mile switches places with the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes to join the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes and the Group 1 Vision.ae Middle Park Stakes on Dubai Future Champions Day.
On QIPCO British Champions Day, the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes has been upgraded to Group 1 status (with immediate effect) and has doubled in value to £500,000 to sit alongside the Group 1 QIPCO Champion Stakes and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by QIPCO.
Newmarket will gain a high profile raceday by retaining its fixture on the preceding Saturday (11 October in 2014), where the Betfred Cesarewitch will be the highlight of a £450,000+ card.
This will see a significant prize money increase at Newmarket and with the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes being transferred to Newmarket from Ascot, further strengthening the autumn two-year-old programme at the Home of Racing, and with the Abernant Stakes in April being upgraded to Group 3 status, Newmarket will now stage the highest number of Group races in Britain.
Reverting to a gap of nearly two weeks between the two-year-old races at Longchamp’s Arc weekend and Dubai Future Champions Day and moving races like the Fillies’ Mile will help to rectify a number of issues that have manifested themselves with Britain’s two-year-old autumn programme.
These changes satisfy European Pattern Committee (EPC) requirements, therefore facilitating the upgrading of the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes to Group 1 status this year and making the upgrading of the Group 2 QIPCO British Champions Sprint, which increases in value from £250,000 to £350,000 this year, and the £200,000 Long Distance Cup (Group 3) distinct possibilities in the future.
Amy Starkey, East Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, responsible for the running of Newmarket Racecourses, said: “I’m very pleased that Dubai Future Champions Day will increase its status as Europe ‘s two-year-old championship day by featuring three Group 1 races for the first time in 2014 and as part of a superb two-day climax to the premier Flat racing season.
“We have made this move in the best interests of British racing, working with multiple interested parties and listening to feedback from trainers who asked us to help resolve the outstanding issues with the two-year-old Pattern.
“Staging an additional fixture in the Saturday slot will see a further significant injection of prize money at Newmarket and we are very grateful for Dubai’s continued and highly valued support on Dubai Future Champions Day.”
Rod Street, Chief Executive of British Champions Limited, said: “One of the main underlying reasons for creating British Champions Day was to maintain and protect Britain’s status as a world-leading Flat racing nation and the upgrade to the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes and the injection of another £350,00 in prize money to the day this October represent fantastic progress in only year three.
“We aspire to make ours the best Flat raceday in the world and the alignment with Dubai Future Champions Day in 2014 presents the perfect opportunity to build something even bigger than that.
“We are grateful for the efforts of BHA and others in securing this outcome, and very much look forward to working with Newmarket, Ascot and the other British Champions Series courses and shareholders to co-promote a sensational ‘Champions Weekend’ next year.”
Ruth Quinn, Director of Racing for the British Horseracing Authority, said: “[This] announcement represents a significant boost for British Racing, and is also a positive development for the sport across Europe. Our end of season Flat programme has taken another major step forward, and we are delighted that the European Pattern Committee supports Britain’s further ambitions in this regard.
“Enhancing the quality of our racing wherever possible and ensuring the integrity of our Pattern is a key responsibility of the BHA, but this of course requires a collaborative approach. We are at our strongest when we work together, and it is important that we all continue to do so.”
John Ferguson, bloodstock advisor to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, said: “We fully support the move of Dubai Future Champions Day and welcome the rotation of the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile with the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes to enhance the quality of the raceday. We are pleased to support Newmarket and the Jockey Club.”