The runners at Britain’s richest raceday, QIPCO British Champions Day were unveiled today, with a mouthwatering series of clashes now in prospect at Ascot.
Famous names in the long list include the current world’s highest-rated racehorse Ghaiyyath, who has an entry in the QIPCO Champion Stakes, and Palace Pier, who recently preserved his unbeaten record with a commanding performance in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
The roll-call of entries for the richest raceday in Great Britain and the only day to feature four Group 1 prizes, also includes this year’s British Classic winners Kameko, Love and Serpentine, 2020 Irish classic winners Siskin, Peaceful, Santiago and Even So, plus two of this year’s French Classic winners, Fancy Blue and Mishriff.
The evergreen Magical is bidding to become the first horse to win races at three different QIPCO British Champions Days – she currently sits on two alongside Frankel and Cracksman.
Prize money for this year’s QIPCO British Champions Day, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, will stand at £2.5million, retaining its position as the richest raceday in Great Britain, despite the impact of coronavirus.
Four-time champion trainer John Gosden has a strong hand of 19 entries in total for the day, including the likes of Stradivarius, Enable, Mishriff and Enbihaar alongside the aforementioned Palace Pier..
Gosden is tied with Aidan O’Brien as the trainer with the highest number of winners at QIPCO British Champions Day with eight and he praised the raceday in its 10th anniversary year for attracting a younger crowd to the sport.
He said: “It was a very bold initiative from QIPCO and Ascot when British Champions Day was conceived, and it has worked very well. It’s done a great job confirming champions, and it’s provided a great wrap up to the European season before the Breeders’ Cup.
“One thing I noticed when I walked the track last year before confirming Stradivarius and the fillies was that a younger crowd goes to Champions Day, so I hope we have spectators by then.
“There’s some overlap of course with the Royal Ascot crowd, but it’s in the diaries of a slightly different group and the average age when I was walking through the grandstand was in the twenties or thirties. There were teenagers too, and that’s a very healthy thing. It’s a good fun day out, and a great chance to see a lot of high-class horses.”
Andrew Balding, who is targeting QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner Kameko at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) on the day said: “QIPCO British Champions Day has been a fantastic initiative and a credit to everyone involved. It’s been fantastic to have a British-based European championship with such tremendous prize money, and it’s something for us to be really proud of.
“If you look back over the roster of past winners since it started in 2011, I think you will find that the best horses, by and large, have been crowned champions.”
Charlie Appleby hopes to have his first QIPCO British Champions Day winner this year and outlined the importance of the day to everyone involved in British racing.
“QIPCO British Champions Day has fitted really well into the calendar and provided a great crowning event for racing’s champions with championship events over a wide range of distances,” Appleby said.
“It’s a priority event for everyone in our business, and to have a horse with a live chance is very exciting for all involved. We haven’t had a winner there yet, but we haven’t had many runners because we don’t go to these championship events on a wing and a prayer.
“Wherever Godolphin goes around the world we want to be going with a live shot, and this year I hope we might have three of them at Ascot in Ghaiyyath, Pinatubo and Space Blues.”