Racegoers are being encouraged to secure their tickets to QIPCO British Champions Day after both the King Edward VII Enclosure and the Winning Post (both within the former Premier area) sold out, with only tickets for the Queen Anne enclosure (Grandstand) now available.
QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 15th October is the richest raceday in Britain with £4.2 million in prize money and boasts an unrivalled card in the UK comprising four Group 1 contests, a Group 2 and the richest mile handicap in Europe.
Record entries were made for the day back in August and some of the most exciting horses in Europe are targeting the day. Amongst those with Ascot on the agenda is Jean-Claude Rouget’s brilliant French colt Almanzor who is entered in the £1.3 million QIPCO Champion Stakes. The French Derby winner was having his first run outside his native country when showing a great turn of foot to land the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at the expense of seven other Group 1 winners at Leopardstown on Saturday evening.
Rouget believes that the colt is at his best over the mile and a quarter distance of the QIPCO Champion Stakes and said, “Ten furlongs for me is a good trip. For me the (best) option is the English race [Champion Stakes], because of the distance and we have two weeks more. If he was mine he would run at Ascot. He could run in the Arc next year.”
The exciting Zhukova, who returned from a four-month absence to beat US Army Ranger, the Derby runner-up, in fluent style in the KPMG Enterprise Stakes on the same Leopardstown card is being targeted at the£600,000 QIPCO British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes by her handler, Dermot Weld.
He said, “That has been the plan for her since April. She enjoyed her summer break and has come back to be what I expected her to be – a Group 1 filly before the end of the year.”
Jockey Pat Smullen, who is the winning-most jockey at QIPCO British Champions Day said: “She’s a lovely mare, with a lovely big stride on her. We always thought a lot of her but typical of the boss, he’s been very patient with her. She’s a big mare and she’s only showing the benefit of giving her that time now.”
Awtaad, the Irish 2000 Guineas winner, and Alice Springs, the Falmouth Stakes victor, also won at Leopardstown and their connections indicated that the pair could both run in the QIPCO-sponsored £1.1 million Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
“The plan now is to go to Ascot for the QEII,” Awtaad’s octogenarian trainer Kevin Prendergast said. “He’s keeping me going and gets me out of bed in the morning. He’s come back to himself. He had a bit of a dip after Ascot [St James’s Palace Stakes] where he ran well, finishing third to two very good horses [Galileo Gold and The Gurkha].
“At Goodwood [Qatar Sussex Stakes] things just didn’t go right. The ground was probably a bit firm and he didn’t travel well – why I don’t know. He seems to be back to himself. I think he likes good ground – on good ground, he’s himself. He’s a very good horse on his day. He’s run eight times and won five and been third twice. His blip was Goodwood and you’ll always give them one excuse.”
As well as thrilling action on track, QIPCO British Champions Day will also see the crowning of the Stobart Champion Flat Jockey and the Champion Owner. Currently, defending Champion, Silvestre De Sousa (99) trails former jump jockey Jim Crowley (102), the only jockey to have ridden a century during the Championship, with the race likely to go down to the wire. You can keep up to date with the battle here.
A star-studded after-party headlined by chart-topping Sigala and BBC Radio 2’s Sara Cox will bring the curtain down on a thrilling day’s racing. Under 18’s go free and, following on from the success of last two years, 2,500 students will again be able to attend for FREE – for more information about student tickets head to the British Champions Series website. For tickets to QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot racecourse on Saturday 15th October go to www.britishchampionsseries.com