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The QIPCO Champion Stakes

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History

With £1.3m in prize money, the QIPCO Champion Stakes is the most valuable mile and a quarter race in Europe.

Following on from iconic races like the Investec Derby and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO), this is the final, pulsating showdown in the QIPCO British Champions Series Middle Distance category.

The race brought a great heritage from Newmarket, where it was run from its inception in 1877 until 2010. But the dramatic injection in prize money (the 2010 renewal was worth just £350,000) that accompanied its move to become the glittering highlight of the new QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot has changed its status completely.

Now it can compete in financial terms on flat racing’s international stage and the 2011 contest attracted a sensational field, packed with many of the world’s highest-rated middle-distance horses.

The 2012 renewal was truly exceptional with the world’s best racehorse Frankel registering his 14th straight victory in what was the final race of his career. His half-brother, Noble Mission, kept the race in the family in 2014 for an emotional victory for Lady Jane Cecil as he defeated Champions Series stalwart Al Kazeem in a thrilling finish.

In 2015, Dermot Weld continued his brilliant form on Champions Day as he saddled Fascinating Rock to land the feature contest. Twelve months later the outstanding Almanzor was a dazzling winner for France, while Cracksman ran away with the renewals in 2017 and 2018.

Current leading jockeys: Tom Queally (2009, 2010, 2012)
Current leading trainer: Numerous have won it twice.

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

Entries

Going/Track

Weather

No/Draw Horse/Jockey Age Form/Type BHA Rating Weight Trainer Odds

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Cracksman proves class apart for a second time

Cracksman returned to his brilliant best with a stunning defeat of Crystal Ocean in the QIPCO Champion Stakes.

His six-length winning margin over the King George runner-up just a length short of the distance by which he beat Poet’s Word 12 months earlier.

In the process he became the first horse since his sire, Frankel, to win at successive QIPCO British Champions Days. He now retires to stud the winner of eight of his 12 races, four of them at the top level, and more than £2.7million in prize money.

Cracksman was wearing first-time blinkers and Frankie Dettori seemed anxious to keep him motivated in the first half of the race. But when he invited the colt to put his stamp on the race early in the home straight the response was instant and Cracksman bounded clear.

Dettori spent the last half-furlong saluting in triumph.

“It’s super to have him back,” said trainer John Gosden. “He likes to get his toe in. He’s by Frankel out of a Pivotal mare and while Frankel won well on any ground a Pivotal mare is a bit of a clue.

“He won the Prix Ganay in explosive style and I don’t think he was quite the same after that – I think a few things were bothering him. He got very distracted at Royal Ascot by the girls coming back from the Windsor Forest and then we went for the King George, where it was too firm, and the Juddmonte [non-runner for the same reason] then packed in and freshened him up to come here, where he was back to his best.

“I’m a great believer in putting a little semi blinker on and have had a lot of luck with it down the years, having picked up the trick in America and most horses race in blinkers there. I can tell you the great Secretariat and Northern Dancer raced in blinkers. I don’t have a prejudice against them. Sometimes you need to focus their minds.

“When Cracksman is in the zone, he is a very good horse. I would think it is quite likely he will go to stud as he is a four-year-old turning five. He is Frankel’s best son and it is lovely to see him back with a bang.”

Dettori, for whom it was a second victory of the day, following Stradivarius’ win in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, said: “That is the old Cracksman back. He felt fantastic! What a horse he is – I love him dearly.

“Full credit to the owners and John for being patient. They were not tempted to run on firm ground and got the reward today.

“He did it on his own. The blinkers worked and he was concentrating. I kept him away from Rhododendron, the filly, and even in the first bit of the race I knew. It came good for me at the three-furlong pole and I knew we were in business. You know when you are going twice as fast as the others, and you have to celebrate.”

He added: “He was very lethargic in the summer – like one of those ponies of your kids’; you have to drag it everywhere. Cool weather, autumn, a bit of rain and he was back to his best today. I was able to put him where I wanted him. Usually he makes my life difficult but today I had a beautiful position.

“As the race developed, the more and more he came on the bridle, and turning for home he actually couldn’t wait to go. When he accelerated – not many horses can do it – I was able really to enjoy the scream of the crowds in the final furlong and raise my arm in the last 100 yards.

Crystal Ocean could not match the devastating turn of foot displayed by Cracksman in the home straight.

Jockey William Buick said: “Crystal Ocean ran a good race, but Cracksman won very impressively today.

“He looked today the same Cracksman as he was last year with an equally impressive performance. I was in a little bit of a tricky spot coming into the straight, but it opened up for me and Crystal Ocean ran a good race.

“He is a nice horse who is very effective over a mile and a half.”

Subway Dancer provided the shock of the race when finishing third at 66/1, edging out Capri for that position.

The seven-year-old gelding, trained in the Czech Republic by Zdeno Koplik and ridden by his brother Radek, scooped almost £120,000 in prize money for third.

Radek said: “It was a very good race and my horse ran very well, so I’m happy.”

Results

Position Horse Jockey Trainer Owner
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The Course

British horseracing can lay claim to plenty of blue-blooded connections, but none rival those of Ascot. The Berkshire racecourse’s roots go back 300 years to Queen Anne, who recognised the potential of a stretch of heath land while out riding just a few miles from Windsor Castle.

The royal link has endured ever since. Today, Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family attend the world-famous ‘Royal Ascot’ meeting each year, arriving in a horse drawn carriage. Royal Ascot, meanwhile, has earned iconic status as a centrepiece of the social calendar, when the world’s best thoroughbreds face fierce competition from the world’s most extravagant fashion designs.

Ascot, which underwent a £200 million redevelopment between 2004-6, also hosts the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO in July, the most prestigious open-age Flat race staged in Britain.

It will also host the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day in October which will be the richest raceday ever staged in Britain with over £4.2m in prize money and the climax to the QIPCO British Champions Series.  Including the five category finales on QIPCO British Champions Day, Ascot stages no less than 13 of the 35 QIPCO British Champions Series races.

What sort of horses like Ascot? Horses that like right-handed courses. And what sort of people? People who like champagne and scones, apparently. During the five-day Royal Ascot meeting in 2010, 60,000 bottles of champagne and 40,000 scones were consumed. Lobsters, meanwhile, don’t like Royal Ascot – 1,500 of them were eaten over that same period.

Getting there

Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 7JX

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