Champions Day is the richest day’s racing in Britain and takes place at Ascot Racecourse in mid-October.
Ascot Champions Day takes place on 21st October 2023.
The Champion Stakes is the feature event, one of four Group 1 races on the card. The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, The British Champions Sprint and The British Champion Fillies & Mares Stakes are the other top-grade races.
The day’s action is book-ended by the Group 2 Long Distance Cup and the valuable Balmoral Handicap.
Currently sponsored by Qipco the brilliant season finale of the turf season is known as Qipco British Champions Day.
Find out more about Ascot Champions Day:
- 1 Ascot Champions Day History & Famous Winners
- 2 Qipco British Champions Day – Overview of The Main Races
- 3 Ascot Racecourse
- 4 Best Trainers & Jockeys at Ascot
- 5 Key Facts About Qipco British Champions Day
- 6 Summary of The Qipco British Champions Day
- 7 Ascot Champions Day Related Articles
Ascot Champions Day History & Famous Winners
The Champion Stakes was transferred from Newmarket racecourse in 2011 to form the focal point of British Champions Day.
The meeting has quickly become established as the end-of-season target for Group 1 horses over a range of distances. Champions Day 2011 featured a spectacular display by Frankel in the QE II Stakes. Frankel would return the following year for his fourteenth and final start in the Champion Stakes, beating former winner Cirrus Des Aigles.
Prize money for the day exceeded £4 million for the first time in 2016.
Qipco British Champions Day – Overview of The Main Races
The main races of the Qipco British Champions series day are:
The Group 2 British Champions Long Distance Cup (full name the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup) over two miles is intended to attract Gold Cup horses.
It was formerly run at Newmarket as the Jockey Club Cup with an impressive roll of honour which included Gold Cup winner Ardross (1980), three-time winner Persian Punch (2000, 2002, 2003) and five-time winner Further Flight (1991 and 1995).
The prize money for the race was increased from £65,000 to £200,000 in 2011 and the race is now regarded as one of the top staying events. Recent winners include Ascot Gold Cup winners Fame and Glory (2011), Rite of Passage (2012), Order of St George (2017) and Stradivarius (2018).
The British Champions Sprint Stakes (Qipco British Champions Sprint) over six furlongs was formerly known as the Diadem Stakes.
It was renamed in 2011 and was given Group 1 status in 2015. Notable winners of the Diadem Stakes include champion sprinters Moorestyle (1981), Never So Bold (1984) and Cadeaux Genereux (1988). Lester Piggott is the most successful jockey in the history of the race with seven winners between 1971 and 1983.
The first renewal as a Group 1 was won by Muhaarar who confirmed his status as the best sprinter in Europe. He had previously won the Commonwealth Cup, July Cup and Prix Maurice de Gheest. The going can have a big impact in the sprint with Librisa Breeze (2017) and Donjuan Triumphant (2019) both confirmed soft ground horses.
The British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes over a mile and a half was previously called the Princess Royal Stakes.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Capella won the race in 2008 and 2010 with Epsom Oaks winners Snow Bride (1989) and Ouija Board (2005) also successful here. The prize money was doubled to £500,000 in 2011 with Oaks winner Dancing Rain winning for William Haggas.
Trainer John Dunlop won this race nine times while jockey Lester Piggott was successful on eight occasions. Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden have shared the recent renewals. O’Brien’s Magical won in 2018 and returned to win the Champion Stakes the following season.
The Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II is one of the most prestigious one-mile races in Europe.
It was first run in 1955 and past winners include Brigadier Gerard (1971 and 1972), Kris (1979), Dubai Millennium (1999) and Frankel (2011). Willie Carson is the leading jockey in the history of the race with 8 winners, his last being Bahri in 1995.
Saeed bin Suroor leads the top trainers here with five winners, all in the colours of Godolphin; Mark Of Esteem (1996), Dubai Millennium (1999), Summoner (2001), Ramonti (2007) and Poet’s Voice (2010). Recent winners include the brilliant 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Minding (2016) and John Gosden’s top class colt Roaring Lion (2018).
The British Champion Stakes is the most valuable ten-furlong race in Europe and the feature race on Champions Day.
The Champion Stakes was first run at Newmarket in 1877 and has been won by many great names of the turf. Brigadier Gerard (1971, 1972), Pebbles (1985) and Triptych (1986, 1987) all won this race during their illustrious careers. The first running at Ascot in 2011 was won by French-trained Cirrus des Aigles. He was a great champion but had to play second fiddle to Frankel the following season in front of a capacity crowd. The testing conditions were far from ideal for Frankel but he did enough to retain his unbeaten record in taking the tenth Group 1 of his career.
There was another emotional renewal in 2014 when Jane Cecil trained Frankel’s full-brother Native Mission to win the Champion Stakes. Sir Henry Cecil had passed away after a long battle with cancer in 2013 and his widow took over the training licence. John Gosden’s Cracksman recorded successive victories in 2017 and 2018, signing off his racing career with a 6 lengths victory.
The one-mile Balmoral Handicap closes the card, a very competitive betting heat.
Lord Glitters landed plenty of winning bets in 2017 when starting 3-1 favourite. Musaddas (2015) and Sharja Bridge (2018) returned at 7-1 and 8-1 respectively. The longest-priced winner in the short history of the race was Bronze Angel at 20-1 in 2014.
Ascot Racecourse was opened in 1711 by Queen Anne and is famous worldwide for Royal Ascot. The five-day Royal meeting is one of the highlights of Britain’s summer social calendar. The course is also home to The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in July and The Shergar Cup. The track also stages top quality National Hunt racing. Ascot racecourse is one of the fairest racecourses in the country and there are rarely excuses for beaten horses.
Best Trainers & Jockeys at Ascot
Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore are always popular with punters at Ascot racecourse. Dettori rode all seven winners here in September 1996, estimated to have cost the betting industry £30 million in multiple bets. Ryan Moore rode nine winners at Royal Ascot in 2015 and has a fine record here for trainer Aidan O’Brien. John Gosden targets the Group races on Champions Day and has enjoyed plenty of success in recent years.
Ante-post betting is available on all six races on Champions Day. The top trainers have other options including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe so it is advisable to follow the racing press for the latest running plans. The going is also a key factor for this meeting, often riding soft. This can sometimes catch out horses that have been running well on good ground throughout the summer.
Key Facts About Qipco British Champions Day
- The main races are – Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes, Qipco British Champions Fillies Stakes, Qipco British Champions Long Distance, Qipco Champion Stakes.
- Held at Ascot racecourse.
- Sponsored by Qipco.
- Britain’s richest raceday.
- Marks the end of the flat season with the finest horses competing.
Summary of The Qipco British Champions Day
Champions Day is a one-day festival of British racing with top-class races over a variety of distances held at Ascot racecourse and currently sponsored by Qipco. It is Britain’s richest race day and brings the curtain down on the flat season and is a fantastic end-of-season day of top-quality racing.
The Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes attract some of the best horses in Europe. The Champions Sprint could decide the sprint championship while the Champion Fillies & Mares has attracted Classic winners. With the top stayers on show in the Long Distance Cup and a competitive one-mile handicap to close the card, there is something for everyone on this star-studded card.
Find out more about all the races at Ascots Champions Day: