British Champions’ Day, the richest fixture in British racing history, will be introduced from 2011, offering more than £3 million of prize money, it was announced today.
Racing’s stakeholders have come together to create the major new day, which will be hosted at Ascot on 15 October 2011. British Champions’ Day will feature the Champion Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Diadem Stakes, Jockey Club Cup and Pride Stakes, as well as a high profile Handicap.
Ascot’s prime location and capacity are viewed as important to help set the stage for British racing to create a larger and more prestigious climax to the premier Flat season for three year olds and upwards. The long-term aim is for this event to rank with the USA’s Breeders’ Cup and France’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe.
The new event will be heavily marketed and is seen as a crucial step towards broadening the appeal of the sport in Britain, whilst also attracting audiences from around the world. British Champions’ Day will be the culmination of a series of races showcasing the best of British Flat racing throughout the season.
Britain already stages many of the world’s top Flat contests and this will be communicated more effectively to a wider public by branding them British Champions’ Series races. Other sports have proved that successfully differentiating and marketing premier events can transform their popularity, with the benefits felt by the whole sport, including increased attendances, betting revenues, sponsorship and media rights value.
The Series will launch on Saturday 30 April 2011 with the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course and climax with British Champions’ Day at Ascot. It will comprise five separate championship categories, namely Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Fillies and Mares, featuring six of the highest-rated races in each category to create easy-to-follow storylines for a wider audience.
With a total prize money pot of more than £13 million, British Champions’ Series will be staged at ten of the UK’s leading racecourses: Ascot, Doncaster, Epsom Downs, Goodwood, Haydock Park, Newbury, Newmarket’s July Course, Newmarket’s Rowley Mile, Sandown Park and York. It will encompass British racing’s key festivals, including the Guineas Festival at Newmarket, the Epsom Derby Festival, Royal Ascot, the Newmarket July Festival, Glorious Goodwood, the Ebor Festival at York and the Doncaster St Leger Meeting.
Karl Oliver, Chief Executive of British Champions’ Series Ltd, said:
“British racing is the best in the world, but we need to give our sport a major new platform to compete for the public’s attention. Britain’s richest-ever day of racing is the opportunity to attract the very best British and overseas horses to compete at our top international racecourse. It can be the autumn climax that British racing deserves.
“By also introducing a series framework, we can highlight and use the best races throughout the Flat season to engage a much wider audience in our sport. In time, British racing can be proud that it backed British Champions’ Series and British Champions’ Day.”
The British Champions’ Series has no bearing on the official start and end of the Flat racing season in the UK, with the Jockeys’ Championship and Trainers’ Championship still being awarded at Doncaster in November 2011.
Establishing British Champions’ Day and the British Champions’ Series
The highly complex and challenging process of establishing British Champions’ Series has seen a combined effort from a wide range of British racing’s stakeholders, led by the Racing for Change (RfC) industry group and the racecourses involved, supported by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the Racecourse Association (RCA) and The Horsemen’s Group, representing owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys and stable staff.
The race programme has required several fixtures to switch venue from their 2010 location and/or move into new slots. Achieving this has required unprecedented steps to be taken by The Jockey Club, Newmarket Racecourse and Ascot Racecourse in particular, in the best interests of British racing.
An extensive consultation process has been conducted throughout the formation stage of the project, with many prominent racehorse owners, trainers, breeders, racecourses, media companies, prospective commercial partners and racing authorities in the UK and abroad.
Future Champions’ Day unveiled
As part of reaching agreement for British Champions’ Series, Newmarket will host an annual Future Champions’ Day. This will help to identify racehorses with the potential to compete in the British Champions’ Series in the following year. Next year this will be hosted at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course on Saturday 8 October 2011 and feature the Dewhurst Stakes (Group 1), Middle Park Stakes (Group 1), Rockfel Stakes (Group 2) and Autumn Stakes (Group 3) for two-year-old horses, and the Challenge Stakes (Group 2), Darley Stakes (Group 3) and the Cesarewitch Heritage Handicap for three-year-olds and upwards.
Another aspect of the agreement will see Newmarket Annual Members benefit from a reciprocal arrangement with Ascot at British Champions’ Day and in return, Ascot’s Members will be welcomed at Newmarket on Future Champions’ Day.
Commercial structure and funding
A new company will be formed, British Champions’ Series Limited (BCS Ltd), to run the series and finale. The investors in the British Champions’ Series project are the BCS racecourses and REL, which will benefit from equity stakes reflecting their respective investments in the new company.
Karl Oliver, Project Director for Premier Racing at Racing Enterprises Ltd (REL), is appointed Chief Executive of BCS Ltd, effective immediately, having been central to its formation. Oliver will oversee the marketing and commercial rights associated with the new series. A robust business case for BCS Ltd through until 2018 has been established and has been endorsed by RfC, REL and the BCS racecourses.
The terrestrial broadcast rights to all races that will feature in British Champions’ Series are currently contracted to the BBC (11 races) and Channel 4 (19 races) through until 2012, with the exception of British Champions’ Day. BCS Ltd has already entered into discussions with its terrestrial broadcast partners about televising British Champions’ Day and in principle, both have expressed an interest to broadcast the fixture.
BCS Ltd has also entered into discussions with a number of prospective commercial partners to British Champions’ Series. A business plan is in place to evolve the series’ sponsorship model as its potential impact grows.
For further information please contact:
Karl Oliver, Chief Executive, British Champions’ Series, 020 7152 0192 / 07785 254 024
Nick Attenborough, Director of Consumer PR, Racing for Change, 020 7152 0193 / 07714 146 528
Scott Bowers, Group Director of Communications, The Jockey Club, 020 7611 1814 / 07809 665 840
Nick Smith, Head of Communications, Ascot Racecourse, 01344 878 524 / 07771 791 449
Rod Street, Chief Executive, Racing Enterprises Limited, 020 7152 0190 / 07584 171 252Selected endorsements for British Champions’ Series:Paul Roy, Chairman of the British Horseracing Authority, said:
“Our intention to create a new autumn highlight which will grow in stature in the international racing calendar was always an exciting project that we wished to progress within the boundaries of, and with the blessing of, the European Pattern Committee.
“The European Pattern has stood the test of time. European racing nations have worked together very effectively, as clearly demonstrated by the success of the top races within Europe and the volume of horses competing outside their home country.
“The Committee has undertaken a number of effective negotiations over the years, for example producing the enhanced programme for older fillies and mares in recent times, which has had significant success in keeping some quality horses in training; a clear example of the value of working together.
“We have the utmost respect for the European Pattern system, and the work of the Committee in upholding its integrity. We greatly appreciate the work of Committee Chairman Brian Kavanagh and the other members of the Committee in helping us to bring this project to fruition. The considerable goodwill amongst the individuals that sit around the Committee table has been evident and we are very grateful to them. Britain has listened to the Committee and acted responsibly throughout this process in order to promote the Pattern and all that it is there to achieve in the interests of European racing.”
Chris McFadden, Chairman of Racing Enterprises Ltd and Racing for Change, said:
“We believe strongly that British Champions’ Series and British Champions’ Day will enable us to tackle some of the key challenges facing British racing, including the declining Levy yield and share of the betting market, attendances, media rights and sponsorship value, terrestrial TV audiences and giving owners more reason to stay in the sport.
“Our new Flat racing finale will also give us a long-overdue alternative to the Arc and Breeders’ Cup. Seven of the top twelve most highly rated Flat races in the world take place in Britain so it seems unfair to get upstaged annually by overseas events.”
Simon Bazalgette, Chief Executive of The Jockey Club and Board Member of Racing for Change, said:
“A lot of hard work and some challenging decisions have gone into establishing the British Champions’ Series. Now we must use this platform to tell our sport’s brilliant stories and appeal to the public’s imagination. High drama, thrilling competition and big rewards; I firmly believe we are creating a catalyst for many more people to become captivated by our sport.”
Charles Barnett, Chief Executive of Ascot Racecourse, said:
“We are delighted to be hosting British Champions’ Day, which is the result of the whole racing family coming together to do what is best for the sport. The Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at £1 million plus races have the platform to become the world’s premier turf events in the ten furlong and mile categories. We look forward to working with the BHA and our European partners to develop the Diadem, Pride and Jockey Club Cup into Group One events as soon as possible.
“We have worked with Newmarket for many years on several initiatives and the idea of a climax for the two-year-olds on the Rowley Mile and for the three-year-olds and upwards at Ascot has natural synergy. Newmarket is the home of racing and their part in this project is a perfect example of the innovation that they and The Jockey Club have shown throughout their long history in the sport. It is entirely appropriate that the Jockey Club Cup on British Champions Day reflects their full partnership in this venture.”Stephen Wallis, Managing Director of Newmarket Racecourses, said:
“Newmarket’s Board fully supports the creation of this major new platform for British racing. We have played a central role in this initiative from the outset in an effort to help create the best possible opportunity for the future of our sport, while preserving its heritage and securing a strong race programme for Newmarket.
“British Champions’ Series will launch on the Rowley Mile, where we will stage two further series races and two more on The July Course. These will be followed by Future Champions’ Day, which can become a focus of real excitement in the British racing calendar. It promises a superb climax to the premier two-year-old Flat season and is a fixture befitting the Home of Racing, where many future champions of our sport are bred and trained.
“We appreciate why some people would rather the Champion Stakes remained in Newmarket, but I also hope they will recognise it is now part of a shared industry day that will help build the profile and finances of the sport we hold so dear.”
Nic Coward, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said:
“The Authority was set up to bring the sport together and lead on the major issues. Racing is changing, and today’s announcement is another significant step. The new series and the new British Champions Day will showcase the phenomenal excitement of great Racing on the sport’s greatest stages. This is one important element of how we are changing the fixture list, and how it is put together.”
Frankie Dettori, said:
"This is one of the toughest periods that British Horseracing will ever have to face. Our racing is the best in the world and Ascot is a world class venue at any level so it is fantastic that the industry is doing everything to help itself at this time. I congratulate everyone involved and look forward to racing at a world class event at my favourite track! This will equal The Melbourne Cup, The Breeders Cup and The World Cup in Dubai who have all led the way over the years with high class events."
Wilf Walsh, Non-Executive Director, Gala Coral Group, said:
“British flat racing needs a clear structure and a world class finale worthy of the sport and the BCS provides the ideal template going forward.”
Chris Palmer, Corporate Development Director, Ladbrokes, said:
“We are supportive of any initiative that increases the profile of the sport and can lead to increased revenues for all concerned.”
Nigel Payne, Chief Executive of the Horseracing Sponsors Association, said:
"Racing has eagerly awaited these details and we should not be at all disappointed. Here is a great opportunity to attract some Blue Chip partners and sponsors to our sport. Major sporting spectacles such as The Champions League and Formula 1 market themselves in this way and racing must be confident that we can do the same throughout the many media platforms available to us."
Professor Simon Chadwick, Founder and Director of the Centre for the International Business of Sport, said:
“Horseracing is actually an extremely well attended sport in the UK, but other sports have been quicker to modernise and make themselves relevant to a younger audience. In my view, establishing British Champions’ Series is exactly what British horseracing needs to propel it into the consciousness of today’s sports fans and sponsors, both domestically and internationally.”
Lord Grimthorpe, Racing Manager to His Highness Prince Khalid Abdullah and Juddmonte Farms, said:
"Racing needs to do something significant to re-engage the public. We have a wonderful sport and British racing is the best in the world. British Champions' Series will use our highest quality racing to inspire new followers, attract commercial partners and increase media rights. This is the right move for our sport."
Tony Kelly, Managing Director, Northern Racing, said:
“Racing needs to reach a bigger audience and there is sense in using the sport's key moments to to do. The fact that racing's key stakeholders have agreed upon a roadmap for the future to help achieve this is notable.”
The British Champions’ Series: Five Separate Champion Categories
King’s Stand Stakes
Golden Jubilee Stakes
2000 Guineas Stakes
St James’s Palace Stakes
Queen Anne Stakes
Prince of Wales’s Stakes
King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Fillies & Mares
1000 Guineas Stakes
St Leger Stakes
Racing for Change is an initiative created by Racing Enterprises Ltd, the commercial arm of British horseracing. The Racing for Change board features all of the sport's key organisations and includes not only representation from the racecourses and the participants, but also the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the British Horseracing Authority, the bodies with responsibility for funding, governance and regulation. www.racingforchange.co.uk