QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS FILLIES’ & MARES’ STAKES (GROUP 1)
Total prize money £600,000
Prize money breakdown: 1st £340,620; 2nd £129,000; 3rd £64,560; 4th £32,160; 5th £16,140; 6th £8,100
Conditions: 1m 4f, 3YO+ fillies and mares
Last Year’s Winner:
Jockey: Andrea Atzeni • Trainer: Ralph Beckett • Owner: Qatar Racing / Sheikh Suhaim Al Thani /M Al Kubaisi • Breeder: Barronstown Stud
Just weeks after winning the Ladbrokes St Leger, losing the race in the stewards’ room and then being re-awarded it upon appeal, Simple Verse claimed a second Group 1 victory in far more straightforward circumstances. Frankie Dettori poached a lead on Journey early in the straight, but the winner’s stamina reserves kicked in and she steadily cut down her rival to score at 5/1 by three quarters of a length in the colours of Qatar Racing who so generously support the meeting under the QIPCO banner.
2016 Series Winners in the Fillies’ & Mares’ Division
QIPCO 1000 Guineas (1m, 3YO fillies), Rowley Mile Newmarket, 1st May – Minding
The Investec Oaks (1m 4f, 3YO fillies), Epsom Downs, 3rd June – Minding
The Coronation Stakes (1m, 3YO fillies), Ascot, 17th June – Qemah
The QIPCO Falmouth Stakes (1m, 3YO + fillies and mares), July Course Newmarket, 8th July– Alice Springs
The Qatar Nassau Stakes (1m2f, 3YO+ fillies and mares), Goodwood, 30th July – Minding
The Darley Yorkshire Oaks – (1m4f, 3YO+), York, 18th August – Seventh Heaven
QIPCO British Champions Series Fillies’ & Mares’ Stakes (1m4f, 3yO+) Ascot, 15th October –
October 2016: AIDAN O’BRIEN HOPING TO BE IN SEVENTH HEAVEN AGAIN AT ASCOT
Seventh Heaven would be an appropriately named winner of the Group 1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes because that is exactly how her trainer, Aidan O’Brien, must have felt for most of the races in the Fillies & Mares category of this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series.
He has won five of the first six legs through the exploits of Minding, Alice Springs and Seventh Heaven and the last-named is his principal hope in the 13-runner field. She has won the Darley Irish Oaks and Darley Yorkshire Oaks on her past two starts in the style of a top-notch performer. O’Brien also runs Pretty Perfect and Even Song.
Dermot Weld has long had the race in mind for the exciting Zhukova, who extended her winning sequence to four in a Group 3 contest at Leopardstown last month, while Journey, runner-up to Simple Verse in a pulsating renewal 12 months ago, will seek to go one better after winning in zestful fashion at Newmarket last time.
Other entries include Architecture, who has the distinction of finishing runner-up in three versions of the Oaks this year (English, Irish and German) and Queen’s Trust, placed in the Qatar Nassau Stakes and Darley Yorkshire Oaks on her past two starts.
John Gosden, trainer of Journey, runner-up last year and a fluent winner at Newmarket last time, said: “She’s in good order and I’m pleased with her. She won well at Newmarket the other day and Lady Of Camelot [second in that race] has since run another good race there. We are aware of task in hand with the good Irish filles coming over, but we will give it a go.”
Sir Michael Stoute, the trainer of Queen’s Trust, placed in the Nassau Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks, said: “I thought she was coming to win her race last time [faded to be third to Seventh Heaven in the Yorkshire Oaks] but she still ran very well, as she did at Goodwood the time before. This is another tough race.”
History of the Race
The genealogy of the QIPCO British Champions Fillies’ And Mares’ Stakes dates back to 1946, when Ascot staged the Princess Royal Stakes for the first time. In 2008 it was renamed the Pride Stakes and moved to Newmarket, but it returned to Ascot under its current name in 2011.
The new race was given a boost in its very first year as it was won by none other than the Investec Oaks and Preis der Diana (German Oaks) winner, Dancing Rain, a dual Classic heroine having her final European start. Simple Verse was the second Classic winner to claim the spoils in its short recent history when successful last year. The race was awarded Group 1 status in 2013 and now boasts prize money of £600,000, the latest increase of £50,000 making it Britain’s joint-most valuable fillies-only race.
Pictured: Simple Verse courtesy of Doncaster Racecourse 2015.