The Sprint Cup is 6 furlongs long, for horses aged 3YO+. It is the category finale for the Sprint races in the British Champions Series, which are:

THE SPRINT RACES SCHEDULE

JUNE: 5f King’s Stand Stakes, £400,000 at Royal Ascot

JUNE: 6f Commonwealth Cup, £400,000 at Royal Ascot

JUNE: 6f Diamond Jubilee Stakes, £600,000 at Royal Ascot

JULY: 6f Darley July Cup, £500,000 at Newmarket

AUGUST: 5f Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, £350,000 at York

SEPTEMBER: 6f 32Red Sprint Cup, £260,000 at Haydock

OCTOBER: 6f QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes, £600,000 at Ascot

HISTORY OF THE RACE

In 2015, the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes was upgraded from Group 2 to Group 1 status and, in response to its enhanced prestige, the race’s value was boosted from £350,000 to £600,000 establishing it as Europe’s joint-most valuable sprint.

This six-furlong (1,200 metres) contest provides the grand finale to the seven-race QIPCO British Champions Sprint division. There are three Series races run over five furlongs (1,000 metres) and four, including the Champions Day contest, over six furlongs. Many sprinters tend to specialise over one of these distances, but the true greats have the versatility to excel over both trips.

The QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes has evolved from the Diadem Stakes, which was first run at Ascot in 1946. The first running under its current name was won by Deacon Blues, trained in Newmarket by James Fanshawe, in 2011.

PAST WINNERS OF THE QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS SPRINT DIVISION (GROUP 1)

Year – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

2011 – Deacon Blues (pictured) – Johnny Murtagh – James Fanshawe

2012 – Maarek – Jamie Spencer – David Peter Nagle

2013 – Slade Power – Wayne Lordan – Edward Lynam

2014 – Gordon Lord Byron – Wayne Lordan – Tom Hogan

2015 – Muhaarar – Paul Hanagan – Charles Hills

2016 – The Tin Man – Tom Queally – James Fanshawe

SPRINT CONTENDERS FOR 2017

The sprint category of the QIPCO British Champions Series has all ingredients to satisfy the biggest of appetites among those with a need for speed.

Exciting new faces on the scene will include Lady Aurelia, the spectacular winner of the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot last season. The lly, trained in America by Wesley Ward, won impressively on her return at Keeneland already has the King’s Stand Stakes in June on her agenda.

The unbeaten Caravaggio was also a taking winner at the Royal meeting last year, in the Coventry Stakes, and could go down the sprinting path if he is betrayed by lack of stamina over a mile. Aidan O’Brien has said that no horse has clocked quicker fractions than the Scat Daddy colt on the gallops at Ballydoyle.

Another pair of two-year-olds from 2016 who appeal as the type to do well in sprints are Blue Point, the easy Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes winner, and Harry Angel, the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes victor.

Queen Kindly, the daughter of Frankel who won the Lowther Stakes, and the David Elsworth-trained Sir Dancealot could also make their mark but last year’s juveniles are going to have to graduate pretty quickly if they are to match strides with the old guard.

Mecca’s Angel, the dual Nunthorpe winner, and Twilight Son, a two-time winner in the QIPCO British Champions Series, have departed the scene but the likes of Limato, Quiet Reflection, Profitable and The Tin Man will provide formidable opposition.

Limato was the electrifying winner of last year’s Darley July Cup, when he showed what he was capable of granted 6f and a fast surface. Fourth that day was Profitable, who had earlier won the King’s Stand Stakes.

Quiet Reflection landed the Commonwealth Cup and Sprint Cup in 2016, while The Tin Man delivered on earlier promise when shining in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot.

In addition to Caravaggio, O’Brien can call on the likes of Washington DC and Acapulco, while Signs Of Blessing, Growl, Brando, Suedois and Magical Memory will be among others coming to the party.

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