Stars set to collide on 10th Anniversary of Champions Day
11 Oct 2021
Big guns entered to compete for over £4m at Ascot on Saturday
There are highlights at every turn, as befits Britain’s most valuable raceday, which this year offers prize money of £4,091,250, up 61% on last year’s totals. The QIPCO Champion Stakes is set to be the richest race in the UK this year with £1.2 million in prize money, with the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) also run for in excess of £1 million.
In total, 26 Group 1 winners remain engaged and between them they have won 56 races at the highest level. Eight Classic winners remain in contention to run – including three of this year’s British Classic winners in Mother Earth, Snowfall and Adayar.
It could be a momentous afternoon for John Gosden, now training in partnership with his son Thady, as he is set to saddle five leading contenders in six races – Stradivarius (QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup), Free Wind (QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares), Palace Pier (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO)), Mishriff (QIPCO Champion Stakes) and Sunray Major, favourite for the Balmoral Handicap. The Champion Trainer will be seeking to add to his haul of eight winners on QIPCO British Champions Day – the same tally as Aidan O’Brien.
“QIPCO British Champions Day has become the definitive season-ending meeting. It’s wonderfully sponsored and a great event, with Group 1s from six furlongs to a mile and a half, as well as a very valuable Group 2 for stayers, but I think what’s most interesting to me is that it attracts a much younger crowd,” Gosden said.
“I’ve said this before, but it’s very noticeable as you go through the grandstand that a lot of them are in their teens, twenties and thirties, and that’s so important to our business if we are not going to wind up irrelevant. Ascot has a different feel on QIPCO British Champions Day, and that’s a great positive. The more we can encourage it the better.”
William Haggas, who won last year’s QIPCO Champion Stakes with Addeybb, is another big fan of the meeting. He said: “QIPCO British Champions Day is a huge and momentous occasion. It’s the culmination of a long season in Britain. Everyone wants to win there.”
The going at Ascot is currently Good to Soft, Soft in places on the straight course, and Soft, Good to Soft places on the round course. The latest Going Stick readings were 7.7 (straight) and 5.4 (round).