The QIPCO British Champions Series unites the country’s top 35 Flat races under one banner, throwing the spotlight on the very best of British Flat racing and providing greater context to the season. Its main aim is to broaden the appeal of the sport in the UK.
Now in its second year, the 2012 Series will launch on Saturday 5 May with the QIPCO 2000 Guineas on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile racecourse.
The best thoroughbred racehorses, the most talented jockeys and trainers, world renowned racecourses and top Flat races – including nine of the top 16 races worldwide on current official ratings – come together to create a unique offering for existing and new fans of racing.
The QIPCO British Champions Series will reach its finale with QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot racecourse on Saturday 20 October. Staged for the first time in 2011, it is the richest raceday in Britain with £3 million in prize money across the final races in each of the five Series categories.
The race programme is headlined by the £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes over a mile and a quarter and the £1m Queen Elizabeth II Stakes sponsored by QIPCO over a mile, by far the most valuable races run over their distances in Europe.
The aim of the day was to create an established finale to the British racing season, something which it previously lacked, and attract the best horses to compete at it. The inaugural QIPCO British Champions Day was acclaimed by many as the best day’s racing in the world last year and brought a crowd of 26,749 racegoers to Ascot, a modern day record for a Flat autumn raceday in Britain.
The project to transform and modernise horseracing in the UK began in autumn 2008 with an extensive programme of in-depth consultation and research which led to the formation of Racing for Change. It represents all the key interests in British Racing, including the racecourses, owners, trainers, jockeys and breeders, all of whom are stakeholders in the QIPCO British Champions Series.
The go-ahead for the creation of British Champions Day was given by the European Pattern Committee in late September 2010. That left just seven months until the first Series race in April 2011 and in that time a major title sponsor was secured with the signing of a two-year deal with QIPCO Holding, the rights to televise QIPCO British Champions Day were sold to the BBC in a two-year deal, executives were recruited to develop, promote and stage-manage the Series, a Series identity was created and a website was launched.
In March of this year a new TV rights contract was signed with Channel 4 which will see the broadcaster become the exclusive terrestrial channel for British horseracing from 2013, including all 35 British Champions Series races.
Structure of the Series
The QIPCO British Champions Series comprises five categories:
- Middle Distance
- Long Distance
- Fillies & Mares
Each features the seven highest-rated races in that category, culminating in a same-day finale on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 20 October 2012.
With a total prize money pot of well over £13 million, the Series is being staged across ten of the UK’s leading racecourses:
- Epsom Downs
- Haydock Park
- Newmarket’s Rowley Mile
- Newmarket’s July Course
- Sandown Park
The Series encompasses British Flat racing’s key festivals, including:
- The QIPCO Guineas Festival at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile
- The Investec Derby Festival at Epsom
- Royal Ascot
- The Piper Heidsieck July Festival at Newmarket’s July Course
- Betfair Weekend at Ascot
- Glorious Goodwood
- The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York
- The Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster
The World’s Highest-Rated Races
QIPCO British Champions Series (QBCS) has no less than nine of the world’s top-rated races,
based on the official three-year average ratings of the first four horses to finish in each race. France
and the USA have three each and Ireland one:
1. Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe France 126.42
2. Breeders’ Cup Classic USA 124.58
3. Queen Elizabeth II Stakes sponsored by QIPCO UK – QBCS 123.33
4= QIPCO Sussex Stakes UK – QBCS 123.00
4= Breeders’ Cup Mile USA 123.00
6. Prix Jacques Le Marois France 122.75
7. QIPCO Champion Stakes UK – QBCS 122.58
8= Investec Derby UK – QBCS 122.42
8= Coral-Eclipse Stakes UK – QBCS 122.42
8= Irish Champion Stakes Ireland 122.42
11= King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by Betfair) UK – QBCS 121.92
11= Prix de la Foret France 121.92
13. Prince of Wales’s Stakes UK – QBCS 121.67
14. St James’s Palace Stakes UK – QBCS 121.50
15. Breeders’ Cup Turf USA 121.42
16. QIPCO 2000 Guineas UK – QBCS 121.33
Based purely on the races in 2011, the rankings look even better for British racing with seven of the
world’s top ten races in the QIPCO British Champions Series:
1. Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe France 126.25
2. Queen Elizabeth II Stakes sponsored by QIPCO UK – QBCS 125.75
3. QIPCO Champion Stakes UK – QBCS 125.50
4. QIPCO Sussex Stakes UK – QBCS 125.00
5. Prix Ganay France 124.00
6. St James’s Palace Stakes UK – QBCS 123.75
7. Queen Anne Stakes UK – QBCS 123.25
8. Coral-Eclipse Stakes UK – QBCS 122.75
9. Prince of Wales’s Stakes UK – QBCS 122.50
10. Breeders’ Cup Classic USA 122.25