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The QIPCO Champion Stakes

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Almanzor
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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.

Last year, Dermot Weld continued his brilliant form on Champions Day as he saddled Fascinating Rock to land the feature contest. They will be heading back to Ascot this year to seek a repeat.

Current leading jockeys: Tom Queally (2009, 2010, 2012)
Current leading trainer: Patrick Biancone (1984, 1986, 1987)

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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Almanzor proves class apart with Champion display

Almanzor confirmed his status as the best horse in Europe with an emphatic victory in the QIPCO British Champion Stakes at Ascot.

And the good news for racing fans is that he will race on as a four-year-old next year, with the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot already an intended target.

The 11/8 favourite outclassed his rivals in the £1.3 million ten-furlong Group One contest, always travelling smoothly for his jockey, Christophe Soumillon.

The pair stretched clear in the final furlong to record a two-length victory over Found, the 5/2 second favourite, and recent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner, Found. Jack Hobbs kept on to be third, a position he had also filled a year earlier.

It was a repeat one-two of last month’s QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes.

Rouget had come under pressure to run Almanzor in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but stuck to Plan A.

“It was the right decision to run here as the track and ground were going to suit him well,” he said. “I love this horse. It was always the plan to come here since the summer. I didn’t change my mind on what I was going to do and I’m glad I didn’t.

“I would rank him very highly against all the horses I have ever trained. It’s fantastic to win this race and fantastic to win a Group One race here. I have won this race before with Literato but that was when it was run at Newmarket. I love to come here and I love to win races here.”

Christophe Soumillon had few anxious moments aboard Almanzor despite his mount fluffing the start and said: “It’s amazing to ride a champion like him.”

Just 13 days on from her success in the Prix De L’Arc de Triomphe, Aidan O’Brien’s Found resumed her role as a perennial bridesmaid, finishing second in a QIPCO British Champions Series for a sixth time this season. She has still to win one and is now unlikely, with retirement on the cards.

O’Brien was quick to heap praise on the four-year-old, commenting: “It is an unbelievable run from her. I am delighted. What can I say really? To run so well here after running in the Arc just two weeks ago, it was a great run.”

Jack Hobbs was returning to the racecourse for the first time since suffering a stress fracture to his pelvis at Newmarket in late April.

John Gosden, his trainer, said: “It’s lovely to have him back. He wants a mile and a half, as you all noticed, and he plays about a bit – he’s still a bit of a kid.

“I’m thrilled – he’s finished behind the best three-year-old colt in Europe and the Arc winner. He’s run a great race. The mile and a half Dubai Sheema Classic [at the 2017 Dubai World Cup meeting] is our plan.”

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.

  • Course plan Ascot Champions Day Course Plan#
  • 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.

Getting there

Ascot
Berkshire
SL5 7JX

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@ChampionsSeries

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