Champion Stakes Betting

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Newly inaugurated in 2011, the QIPCO British Champions Series has brought some major changes to British flat racing. It assembles 35 premier events into a single series that extends throughout the season and culminates in a £3 million finale—British Champions Day at Ascot in mid-October. That is when the championships will be decided in five categories: Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance, and Fillies and Mares.

As part of this new schedule, Newmarket’s illustrious Champion Stakes has been relocated from the Rowley Mile to Ascot Racecourse to be part of the climactic October meeting. Joining this well-established mile-and-a-quarter event are the Diadem Stakes (being renamed the British Champions Sprint Stakes), the Jockey Club Cup (now the British Champions Long Distance Cup), the Pride Stakes (now the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes) and the mile-long Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. A valuable Handicap will be conducted, too.

Officials at Ascot are unapologetic regarding the realignment of the Champion Stakes. Their goal is to put British Champions Day on par with the Breeders’ Cup and France’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. In fact, they have upped the race’s prize purse from its previous high of £350,000 to an impressive £1.3 million.

As a Group 1 flat horse race, the Champion Stakes is open to Thoroughbreds aged three years old and upwards. The youngest runners carry eight stone twelve pounds, while those aged four and older bear nine-stone-three. There is an allowance of three pounds for fillies and mares.

The inaugural running of the Champion Stakes was held in 1877 and won by a horse named Springfield. Other early winners included the mighty French stallion Rayon d’Or, who won here and in the St. Leger in 1879 as well as the U.K.’s fourth Triple crown winner, Ormonde, who was the wild favourite for the Champion Stakes of 1886, which he won priced at a mere 1/100.

For much of its modern history, this race has been known as the Dubai Champion Stakes. In 2002, the title spot was assumed was assumed by a new long-term sponsor, Dubai’s air national carrier, and it was renamed the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes.

In 2009, the event was added as a leg of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, with a total prize pool of £350,000. The move to Ascot is expected to make the Champion Stakes even more lucrative, and the winner will still earn an automatic invitation to run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

No fewer than ten horses have managed double victories here over the years, from Velasquez in 1897-98 and Lemberg in 1910-11 to the most recent back-to-back winner, trainer Henry Cecil’s aptly named Twice Over, in 2009-10. However, only one steed ever gained a hat-trick of victories in the Champion Stakes, and that was Tristan in 1882-84.

Two different jockeys turned in a half dozen wins here during the 20th century. Danny Maher accomplished it first, between 901 and 1910, while Charlie Elliott started his six victories in 1923 with a triumph on Ellangowan and finished up in 1951-52 with back-to-back wins aboard Dynamiter.

Trainer Alec Taylor, Jr. strung his record eight winners out over a period of more than two decades, from Sceptre in 1903 to Picaroon in 1925. His successes included the double champion Lemberg. Not long after that, owner HH Aga Khan III added six names to the Champion Stakes roster of honour: Rustom Pasha in 1930, the dead-heat joint-winner Dastur in 1933, Umidwar in 1934, Nasrullah in 1943, Migoli in 1947 and Hafiz in 1955.

In the new millennium, Barry Hills has trained two winners—Storming Home in 2002 and Haafhd in 2004. Jockey Christophe Lemaire mounted a pair of French-bred victors—the six-year-old mare named Pride in 2006 and the Godolphin-owned three-year-old Literato in 2007. And rider Kevin Manning guided the 2008 winner, New Approach, to the fastest ten furlongs ever run in this event—2:00.13—shattering the old mark of 2:01.04 set by Palace Music in 1984 by nearly a full second.

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