Celebration Mile Betting

Each August, the Goodwood Racecourse puts together a two-day celebration of horse racing and summer fun for families known as the August Bank Holiday Weekend. Saturday, the first day of the much anticipated meeting, features the £100,000 Celebration Mile, one of Goodwood’s best races of the season.

As a Group 2 flat horse race, the Celebration Mile covers a distance of exactly one mile on the right-handed turf of the Goodwood track. The event is open to Thoroughbreds aged three years or older, with the younger horse carrying eight stone nine pounds and those aged four years and upward bearing nine stone one pound.

There is an allowance of three pounds for fillies and mares. Penalties are also applied to winners of Group 1 and Group 2 races since 1st November of the preceding year, amounting to six pounds for the former and three pounds for the latter. Two-year-olds, however, are not subject to the penalties.

When the event was first run in 1967, it was called the “Wills Mile.” Four years later, when the current system of race classifications was introduced, the name was changed to the Goodwood Mile, and then it became the Waterford Crystal Mile in 1975 and remained so until 1988.

In 1989, a new sponsor was found and the race’s name was changed once again, this time to the Beefeater Gin Celebration Mile. But when Tripleprint came on board as the primary backer in 1993, the event retained its identity as the Celebration Mile, and so it has stayed through a period of no sponsorship and its current association with Totesport since 2004.

Until recently, many of the leading horses from the Celebration Mile could be seen competing in September’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. In fact, Poet’s Voice won both events in 2010. It is not clear, however, how the movement of the latter race to October’s British Champions Day will affect their future relationship.

Only one horse has ever succeeded twice at the Celebration Mile. That was a chestnut filly named Chic in 2004-05, despite not being named the favourite in either race. Other great Thoroughbreds to win here include the British Champion Miler Brigadier Gerard in 1971 the Champion European Miler Kris in 1979.

Three jockeys share the top of the leaderboard at the Celebration Mile with four victories apiece. The rider for both Brigadier Gerard and Kris was Joe Mercer, who also won here aboard Sallust in 1972 and Captain James in 1978. Greville Starkey matched him with wins on To-Agori-Mou in 1981, Sandhurst Prince in 1982, Rousillon in 1984 and Then Again in 1986. Next came Willie Carson, who got his four triumphs on Known Fact in 1980, Bold Russian in 1991, Mehthaaf in 1994 and Harayir in 1995.

Among trainers, Sir Michael Stoute is clearly the force to be reckoned with here. He got his first of eight Celebration Mile victories with Milligram in 1987. The other seven were contributed by Among Men in 1997, Medicean in 2000, No Excuse Needed in 2001, Chic’s two back-to-back wins, Echelon in 2007 and Zacinto in 2009.

The most recent favourite to succeed in the Celebration Mile was three-year-old Raven’s Pass in 2008; the chestnut stallion went on to win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic that same year. Another favoured three-year-old, Delegator, crossed the finish line first in 2009, but after testing positive for a banned substance was disqualified post-race, giving the laurels to three-year-old Zacinto. And when three-year-old Poet’s Voice won the following year, it was as a huge underdog, paying 37/1, proving that bookmakers can sometimes be very wrong, indeed.

Obviously the three-year-olds have been enjoying the Celebration Mile in the past few years, reclaiming their glory of the late 1990s, when they claimed five meetings in a row. From 2002 to 2007, however, four five-year-olds triumphed, joined by one horse aged six and Chic’s first win at age four. Age is definitely a difficult factor to handicap in this fast-paced race, too.

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