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The QIPCO Champion Stakes

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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.

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




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


Cracksman proves class apart with Champion display

Cracksman’s stunning seven-length win in the QIPCO Champions Stakes will be long remembered for several reasons: the impressive way the John Gosden-trained colt pulled away from his rivals, the fact that it was his jockey Frankie Dettori’s first victory in the race – and that it was a first Group One success in Europe for Cracksman’s sire, Frankel, who himself took the QIPCO Champions Stakes in 2012.

The Anthony Oppenheimer-owned Cracksman, sent off the 13-8 favourite, had won his past two starts at Group Two level, but this was his debut triumph at the very highest level and nobody can have predicted the crushing nature of  it.

Gosden said: “He’s improved through the year. He ran a blinder in the Derby [to finish third], was unlucky in Ireland [finishing second by a neck in the Irish Derby] but boy, with Capri the form was good, but he seems to have got bigger and stronger. He’s like a fighter weighing more now – if he started as a middleweight, he’s now a light-heavyweight. He handles this ground; he handles good to firm as well, which is great. He handled the ground probably better than anyone and he’s won in true style.

“He’s grown up a lot. He used to flip and flop about a bit. Coming down Tattenham Corner he got in a dreadful muddle in the Derby, but he’s learning to race. I trained his mother for Mr Oppenheimer and she was very tough. She got really good later in the year, and he’s one of these horses who’s got bigger and stronger. It’s great for Frankel to have a son who’s won the race he won.”

Asked whether he would have won the Arc, had he run in it, Gosden replied: “It was a difficult decision but I felt Enable was more in the zone, just a bit more streetwise than him. And Chantilly is not like Longchamp. Andre Fabre would tell you, often the best horse gets in trouble. I was happy with the decision we made and I think it was the right decision.”

Questioned about whether Cracksman’s future might be over a mile and a quarter, rather than a mile and half, Gosden said: “I think he has handled a mile and quarter well today. I think he is versatile now.”

A jubilant Dettori said: “He can be laid back but today he travelled like a good horse. I kicked on and he just galloped right away – it was a fantastic feeling. He likes the ground. But I must say the Oppenheimers and John Gosden have done a fantastic job – the horse was half the horse in the summer that he is now, he’s been given time to develop and this is what they got in return.

“Today is Cracksman’s day – don’t ask me which one’s best between Enable and Cracksman. The horse I rode at Epsom and the horse I rode today are two different horses.

“The Champions Stakes is a colossal race to win – my father came close and I came close a couple of times so it’s been bugging me for a while. But that was a dream performance.”

Poet’s Word was always prominent under Andrea Atzeni, but was no match for the impressive winner. Highland Reel (17-2) kept on well under Ryan Moore to finish a neck behind in third.


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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.

  • Course plan Ascot Champions Day Course Plan# beatsxxdvqbt
  • Course Intro

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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.

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