British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes

The British Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes is a Group 1 race for three-year-olds and upwards on Ascot’s Champions’ Day. The race was originally known as the Princess Royal Stakes and did not acquire its present title until 2011. Notable past winners include Epsom Oaks winners Ouija Board (2005) and Dancing Rain (2011) and multiple Group 1 winner Magical (2018).

The Race

The British Champion Fillies and Mares Stakes is over a mile and a half at Ascot in October. Conditions are often testing for this meeting so ability to act on the ground and bottomless stamina are often required here. This point is underlined by recent winners Simple Verse (2015) and Wonderful Tonight (2020), previous winners over a mile and three-quarters in the St Leger and the Prix de Royallieu respectively.

Famous British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes Winners & History

The race was first run as the Princess Royal Stakes in 1946 with victory going to Mehmany. It was introduced as a Group 3 in 1971 and upgraded to Group 2 when renamed the Pride Stakes in 2008. The final name change to British Champion Fillies and Mares was made in 2011 when it became part of Champions Day. It was finally promoted to Group 1 status in 2013 with prize money doubled to £500,000.

There have only been two dual winners in the history of this race with Shebeen (1974, 1975) and Crystal Capella (2008, 2010). Three Epsom Oaks winners have won this race. The first to do so was Snow Bride (1989), promoted to first at Epsom after first-past-the-post Aliysa had tested positive for a banned substance and was disqualified.

2004 Oaks winner Ouija Board also won this race when it was the Princess Royal Stakes, using it as a prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. She had won the Breeders’ Cup race the previous season but had to settle for second spot behind Lahudood. Dancing Rain (2011) became the third Oaks winner to score here. She had produced a 20-1 shock under Johnny Murtagh in the Epsom Classic but could only finish fifth in the Irish Oaks next time.

2018 winner Magical won 12 of her 28 career starts for Aidan O’Brien and finished runner-up on eight occasions. Her other victories included the Irish Champion Stakes (2019, 2020) and the Champion Stakes (2019) in a fabulous career which netted £4.8 million in prize money for connections.

Key British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes Trials

This race was the next target for three consecutive winners of the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp. Baleel (2017) finished second at Ascot with Kitesurf (2018) finishing only fourth. Star Catcher (2019) did win both races for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.

Magical (2018) won here after finishing tenth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Simple Verse (2015) followed up her St Leger victory at Doncaster. Wonderful Tonight (2020) also won here after a Group 1 success in the Prix de Royallieu.

British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes Betting Trends

Favourites have a modest recent record in this race with only two outright winners and two joint-favourites succeeding in the past twelve seasons. Star Catcher (2019) returned at 7-4 favourite while Wonderful Tonight (2020) headed the market at 4-1. Nine of the twelve winners were in the first three in the betting.

Eshaada (2021) was the second 16-1 shot to win during that period following Seal Of Approval (2013). The only other double figure priced winner was Madame Chang (2014) for David Simcock and Jim Crowley at 12-1.

British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes Stats

Three-year-olds have dominated this race in recent years, winning seven of the last eight renewals. The only horse to break that sequence was Journey (2016) who won as a four-year-old. Crystal Capella (2008, 2010) won as a five-year-old when claiming her second victory in this race but the Classic generation clearly hold sway.

Eight of the twelve winners had winning form over a mile and a half and all but two had tackled the distance at least twice. Ten of the twelve had at least one previous victory at Group 1 to 3 level and a rating of 108 or higher is usually required to win here. Seal of Approval (rated 99 in 2013) was the only horse to win the British Champion Fillies and Mares off a lower mark during that period.

Top Trainers and Jockeys

The late John Dunlop has the all-time record for winners in this race with nine, the last of them coming with Acts of Grace (2006). Sir Michael Stoute has seven victories to his credit; Karanita (1980), Tashtiya (1986), Dancing Bloom (1994), Time Allowed (1996), Delilah (1997) and Crystal Capella (2008, 2010).

Lester Piggott leads the all-time jockeys lists with eight winners between 1959 and 1984. Frankie Dettori has won it five times; Cunning (1992), Signorina Cattiva (1999), Ouija Board (2005), Journey (2016) and Star Catcher (2019). Ryan Moore also has five victories; Mazuna (2004), Crystal Capella (2008, 2010), Hydrangea (2017) and Magical (2018).

Betting on the British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes

The ante-post betting on the British Champions Fillies and Mares takes shape the week before Champions Day as the running plans become clearer. The powerful stables of Aidan O’Brien and John and Thady Gosden usually have a leading contender but plans may change if the going deteriorates.

This is almost always the last race of the year for these fillies and mares. Magical (2018) was a tough campaigner who retained her form incredibly well and she went on to finish second at the Breeders’ Cup. Most of the other recent winners were not seen again until the following Spring.


The British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes is currently race 3 on Champions Day and sets the scene for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes. It regularly attracts horses who ran in the Oaks but it is often won by progressive fillies who thrive in the testing Autumn conditions.

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