The Stayers Million is one of the latest in a long line of horse racing series that run throughout the UK. Even though it’s only been running since 2018, adjustments have already been made for the following 2019 season, with more qualifying events added to the event.
The winner of the Stayers Million will pick up a cheque that is worth £1 million. Don’t forget, the prize money on offer here is a bonus and does not include the winning cheques from each of the races. Overall, they will be winning north of £2.0 million.
In terms of the prize money on offer, it will be broken down between all those involved. The splits are as follows:
- 70% to the owner
- 30% to be shared between the trainer, stable staff, breeder and the jockey
Whilst the majority of the money is set aside for the owner, as part of the Stayers Million they wanted to make sure that some of the money remained in the industry. This means that the likes of the trainer and breeder can re-invest the money if they wish. There are no guarantees here, but it gives it every chance for the industry to flourish as well.
What Puts up the Money?
The funding company of the Stayers Million is that Weatherbys Hamilton, who is an insurance broker that works extensively within the horse racing sector and also outside of it as well.
As a concept, Weatherbys Hamilton was keen to reward some of the stayers of the racing world. These are often horses who are designed to take on tough tracks of distances of 2 miles and up. Given that so many of these bonus and prize money events are targeted at the flat racing, they were keen to buck this trend.
The prize money that is put up makes it highly appealing to a wide range of trainers and stables. Not only that but it will also mean that the qualifying events that are held around the world will now be able to see the best in the world race.
What’s the Format and the Races Involved?
When the Stayers Million first ran in 2018 there were initially 4 qualifying races. The success of the series meant that this number was increased to 8 races for the 2019 season and beyond.
The 8 qualifying races are:
- Dubai Gold Cup (Dubai)
- Vintage Crop Stakes (Navan)
- Longines Sagaro Stakes (Ascot)
- Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes (Chester)
- Comer Group International Oleander-Rennen (Berlin-Hoppegarten)
- Yorkshire Cup (York)
- Matchbook Henry II Stakes (Sandown Park)
- Prix Vicomtesse Vigier (Paris Longchamp)
The winners of each of those races are now through the main event of the Stayers Million. There are three in total that includes the Gold Cup at Ascot, Qatar Goodwood Cup and the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.
If a horse qualifies and then goes on to win all three of these races they will win the Stayers Million. Here’s a little more info on each of those races:
Ascot Gold Cup
The Ascot Gold Cup is one of the most iconic races in the UK and takes place at the Royal Ascot meeting in June. It’s run on the Thursday and is widely known (although not officially) as Ladies Day.
The race is run over 2m 3f and comes with a massive purse of £500,000. The winner will pick up a cheque for £283,500 for their work. Having been run since 1807 it’s one of the oldest flat races in the UK and given its length, is one of the longer ones, hence why it’s part of the “stayer” series.
Yeats is the most successful horse to run in the race, winning it on 4 separate occasions, successively in 2006, 20007, 2008 and 2009. Lester Piggott is the most successful jockey with 11 wins and Aiden O’Brien is the most decorated trainer, with 7 wins to his name.
Qatar Goodwood Cup
The Goodwood Cup is sponsored by Qatar, hence the name, but has been running since 1812. It gained its Group 1 status in 2017 and as a result, the purse increased from £300,000 to £500,000, with the winner taking home £283,500.
It comes as part of the Glorious Goodwood, one of the most decorated and loved horse racing events in the UK. Based in the grounds of Goodwood Racecourse in West Sussex, the site is one of the most picturesque and photographed racecourses in the world, hence the name “Glorious”.
The race takes place over 2 miles and is the shortest of the three main events for the Stayers Million. Double Trigger (1995, 1997, 1998) and Stradivarius (2017, 2018, 2019) are the two most decorated horses in the race, both winning on 3 occasions.
Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup
The Lonsdale Cup takes place in August at York Racecourse. It’s one of the highlights of their Ebor festival and is the only Group 2 race in the Stayers Million. Many believe that as a part of the Stayers, it will soon increase to a Group 1 race.
It’s run over 2m 56y and is open to horses aged 3 and up. It’s only been running since 1980, which makes it the youngest of the three races as well. The purse is the smallest of the three at £225,000 with the winner picking up £127,598.
Stayers Million Winners
Given that the Stayers Million has only been running since 2018 it would be quite fair to sit here and state that there have been no winners, given how hard it is to qualify (year 1 have just 4 races) and then the quality of the final three races.
But this is not the case. Remarkably there has been a winner in both 2018 and 2019. What’s even more remarkable is that it was the same horse that won both!
That horse was the majestic Stradivarius. He’s going to go down as one of the great stayers in British horse racing as a result and looks set to win plenty more given that his 2019 win he was aged just 4.
Both wins of the Stayers have had the same route. He won the Yorkshire Cup to qualify for the final three races and then won at Ascot, Goodwood and then York.
Given that the Stayers Million hasn’t been all that long Stradivarius’ feat is one that likely hasn’t fully been appreciated just yet. It might take several years to realise just how hard the process is and even with more qualifying events all over the world, it could be years until we see another winner, let along back to back wins.