British Champions Day Betting Offers
One of the most prestigious tracks in British flat racing, the Berkshire venue of Ascot plays host to several notable fixtures over the course of the season.
The five-day June jamboree of the Royal Meeting is of course the most famous of all, but it is not the only Group 1 feast on offer at this outstanding course. October each year sees the track play host to the annual Champions Day meeting – featuring no fewer than four Group 1 events.
Here we take a closer look at one of the finest race days of the Autumn months, including the main events and punting pointers, and we also delve into the history of the event.
British Champions Day – Main Races
We get straight into the Group class action with the opening race of the meeting. The Long Distance Cup celebrates the staying stars of the season – with many runners from the Gold Cup of the Royal Meeting returning for another crack at Ascot glory.
Previously held at Newmarket under the name of the Jockey Club Cup, the event was renamed when switched to Ascot in 2011. Regularly serving up a thrilling battle between the best of the British and Irish trained stayers, the race features the likes of Fame and Glory, Order of St George and Stradivarius on an illustrious roll of honour.
At a meeting which provides a major pot to aim at for runners of all distance preferences, the sprinters take centre stage in this cracking 6f contest. Initially known as the Diadem Stakes, in honour of one of the all-time sprinting greats, the race made its debut at Ascot in 1946.
Renamed when included as part of the new British Champions Day in 2011, the race then gained Group 1 status for the first time in 2015. Never failing to attract a field befitting that classification, the race is open to all runners aged three years and older and grants the opportunity to see who really is the fastest of them all.
Traditionally held as the third race on the card, this event over a mile and a half shines the spotlight upon the most talented female performers in training. Previously known as the Princess Royal Stakes and later, the Pride Stakes, the race made its debut under its current title in 2011 and gained Group 1 status for the first time in 2013.
Classic winners Dancing Rain, Simple Verse and Star Catcher, and the Aidan O’Brien-trained superstar Magical are among the stellar names to have graced the turf in this contest.
Initially known as the Knights’ Royal Stakes, this one-mile event was renamed in honour of racing-loving monarch Queen Elizabeth II in 1955. Over the years the event has been landed by some of the greatest horses in the history of the sport, including Brigadier Gerard, Dubai Millennium, and the sensational Frankel.
The second most valuable event on the card, the race is open to all runners aged three years and older and provides the chance to see the best of the Classic generation going head-to-head with their elders.
First held way back in 1877, the meetings feature race is comfortably the oldest of the Group 1 contests on the card. It has however only taken place at Ascot since 2011, having previously called Newmarket home for the majority of its lifetime.
A Group 1 event ever since the introduction of the classification system in 1971, the list of previous winners is littered with Classic winners and Group 1 superstars. Frankel won here in 2012, followed by his full brother Noble Mission in 2014, and his son, Cracksman, who bagged back-to-back editions in 2017 and 2018.
Balmoral Handicap – Handicap – 1m
Following that overload of Group class action, the final race on the card provides a big field handicapping puzzle for punters to unravel, as a maximum field of 20 line up over the straight mile. The quality of the performers may be a notch below that which has come before, but the prize money on offer makes for a hugely competitive field, and one of the biggest betting heats of the day.
British Champions Day – Betting Pointers
Overall Ascot is one of the fairest tracks in the land, with its wide galloping straights giving runners of all racing styles every chance to prevail. That said, the long-striding, galloping type of horse should be favoured over smaller, nippier types who can struggle to keep pace in the long flat straight.
If there is a slight pace bias in evidence, results show that hold-up performers tend to go well on the straight course, with those at the head of affairs regularly going for home too soon and failing to get the victory.
In the Balmoral Handicap, it can certainly be worthwhile looking to side with runners who like to race just off the pace before coming with a sustained late burst to the line. As the field often splits into two groups in this race, preference should be given to those late-running horses drawn on the same side of the track as the majority of the front runners.
Other trends and factors worth considering when picking out those bets include:
- Three year olds have a poor record in the Long Distance Cup
- Middle drawn runners fare best over 1m2f
- Three year olds go well in the Fillies’ and Mares’ race
- Those drawn low are at a disadvantage over 1m4f
- Pay attention to the French-trained runners in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and the Champion Stakes, with those who make the trip across The Channel boasting a solid strike rate
British Champions Day – A Brief History
Founded by Queen Anne back in 1711, Ascot racecourse has now been entertaining racegoers for over 300 years. A major player on the British racing scene ever since its inception, the track has only grown in prominence over the years.
In the modern era, this immaculate Berkshire venue is one of the best-attended tracks in the country – regularly accounting for 10% of the total attendance across all 59 tracks on the British mainland. Much of that appeal is no doubt a result of the quality of the racing fare on offer. Each year British racing stages a total of 36 Group 1 contests – no fewer than 13 of which take place at Ascot.
The bulk of those top-level events are found at the five-day Royal Ascot meeting, but in terms of single-day events, this Autumn highlight is tough to beat.
Specifically designed to provide a late-season championship-calibre fixture, the event made its first appearance on the British racing scene in 2011. The meeting now acts as the culmination of the British Champion Series – a high-class programme of races across the long-distance, sprinting, mile, middle distance, and fillies and mares divisions.
The five feature events of the day were already longstanding fixtures of the British racing season before the inception of this meeting. The Long Distance Cup made its debut as the Jockey Club Cup in 1873, four years before the inauguration of the Champion Stakes in 1877. The Sprint Stakes and Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes then appeared in 1946, as the Diadem Stakes and Princess Royals Stakes respectively, followed by the first running of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in 1955.
Whilst the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Sprint Stakes have been based at Ascot throughout their history, each of the other three championship-calibre events were previously held at the horse racing headquarters of Newmarket.
Excellent as they were in their own right, it was deemed that a more attractive spectacle would be created should all five events take place on the same card. And so, British Champions Day was born, with Ascot selected as the venue. Newmarket didn’t lose out entirely though, with the Cambridgeshire venue awarded the newly founded Future Champions Day which also made its debut in 2011.
The final touches to the meeting came in 2014 with the addition of the newly created Balmoral Handicap.
In addition to the prestige, owners and trainers are no doubt also attracted to the meeting by the excellent prize money on offer; with over £4 million up for grabs across the six events, this is the most valuable single-day fixture of the entire British season.
The meeting has proved an immediate hit with the racing and the betting public who never fail to be entranced by the cast of stars on show. Frankel, Cracksman, Minding, Baeed, Muhaarar, Stradivarius and more have already etched their names into the British Champions Day record books. No doubt horses of similar ilk will be seen strutting their stuff at this magnificent meeting in the years to come.