The British Champions Sprint Stakes is a Group 1 race on Champions’ Day at Ascot. It was formerly run as the Diadem Stakes and was moved and renamed in 2011. The race has been won by many champion sprinters over the years including Moorestyle (1981), Never So Bold (1984), Cadeaux Genereux (1988), Lake Coniston (1994) and Muhaarar (2015).
The British Champions Sprint is open to three-year-olds and upwards over six furlongs. The draw has little impact on this race, although horses drawn ten or lower have the best recent record. The going can certainly influence the outcome. The meeting takes place in October and the going is often soft or heavy.
Famous British Champions Sprint Stakes Winners & History
The British Champions Sprint Stakes was first run in 1946 as the Diadem Stakes, named after the 1917 1000 Guineas winner. The race was given Group 3 status in 1971, promoted to Group 2 in 1996 and finally to Group 1 in 2015.
There have only been two dual winners of this race; Set Fair (1952, 1954) and Jack and Jill (1958, 1959). The race was won by several popular sprinters in the seventies including Boldboy (1973), Absalom (1979) and Roman Warrior (1975), the latter dead-heating with Swingtime.
Moorestyle (1981) won most of Europe’s top sprints including the July Cup, Haydock Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye in 1980. He won the Diadem before adding second successive victories in the Challenge Stakes and Prix de la Foret ahead of his retirement. He was trained by Robert Armstrong, as was another sprint champion Never So Bold, the 1984 Diadem Stakes winner. He was the top sprinter in Europe in 1985 with victories in the Temple Stakes, King’s Stand Stakes, July Cup and William Hill Sprint Championship.
1988 Diadem winner Cadeaux Genereux was sprint champion in 1989, trained by Olivier Douieb at Newmarket. He was ridden by Pat Eddery who was also aboard Lake Coniston in 1994, the winner of the July Cup the following season. The most recent champion sprinter to emerge from this race was Muhaarar in 2015. He was originally considered a potential Classic colt but reverted to sprinting after finishing down the field in the French 2000 Guineas. His victory here capped a brilliant season which included wins in the Commonwealth Cup and July Cup.
Key British Champions Sprint Stakes Trials
The Haydock Sprint Cup has been the most informative trial for the British Champions Sprint in recent seasons. Six of the last twelve winners here had their previous run in the Group 1 sprint at Haydock, although none of them had been successful. Four of them had been placed in that race.
The most recent winners to emerge from that Haydock race were Creative Force (6th in 2021), Glen Shiel (runner-up in 2020), Sands of Mali (5th in 2018) and The Tin Man (runner-up in 2016). A combination of an encouraging run at Haydock and a liking for soft ground are key factors in finding the British Champions Sprint winner.
British Champions Sprint Stakes Betting Trends
The British Champions Sprint is a particularly tricky race to solve with only two outright winning favourites in the past twelve seasons; Deacon Blues (2011) and Muhaarar (2015). Gordon Lord Byron started joint-favourite when winning this race in 2014 but seven of the twelve were outside the top three in the betting.
Punters endured a bad run from 2017 to 2020 with Librisa Breeze (10-1), Sands of Mali (28-1), Donjuan Triumphant (33-1) and Glen Shiel (16-1).
British Champions Sprint Stakes Stats
There is no obvious age preference for this race with a mixture of winning age groups over the past 12 years. There have been four winning three-year-olds, three four-year-olds, two five-year-olds and three successful six-year-olds during that period.
Only two of those winners had won on their previous start. Previous form at Ascot is a positive factor with all twelve having raced here previously, six of them successfully. All but one of the twelve had won at least once at Group 1 to 3 level. An official rating of 111 or higher is normally required to win this race, Muhaarar (121) being the highest rated winner in recent seasons.
Top Trainers and Jockeys
The leading trainers in the history of the race are Walter Nightingall and Vincent O’Brien with four apiece. No trainer has managed to dominate this race in recent years with only James Fanshawe managing more than one victory. He was successful with Deacon Blues (2011) and The Tin Man (2016). Even the powerful Aidan O’Brien stable has only managed a solitary victory with Bianconi (1998).
Lester Piggott has a record seven victories, the last of them being Salieri in 1983. As with the wide range of successful trainers, no jockey has a particularly striking record here in recent years. Wayne Lordan won in consecutive seasons with Slade Power and Gordon Lord Byron in 2013 and 2014. Paul Hanagan also has two recent winners with Muhaarar (2015) and Sands of Mali (2018).
Betting on the British Champions Sprint Stakes
The Ante-post betting on the British Champion Sprint Stakes can change dramatically during the week of the race, as running plans are confirmed. The importance of keeping an eye on the weather cannot be emphasised enough for this meeting. The soft ground has had a huge influence on the outcome of this race with Librisa Breeze (2017), Donjuan Triumphant (2019) and Glen Shiel (2020) all exploiting their favoured conditions.
This is really the climax to the sprint racing year for most of the competitors and that is reflected in subsequent form. Not one of the last twelve winners won on their next start and only four raced again in the same calendar year.
The British Champions Sprint is one of the trickiest races to solve on Champions’ Day at Ascot. It comes at the end of a long season for many of the market leaders and it usually pays to seek some each-way value. Pay close attention to the form of the Haydock Sprint Cup and the prevailing ground conditions.