British Champions Day at Ascot closes the curtain on the flat racing season in the UK. Several top-class events are scheduled including this race, the highly anticipated British Champion Stakes. The incredibly lucrative event is famously the one in which the unbeaten Frankel made his last ever competitive appearance in 2012.
Dating back to 1877, this race was run at Newmarket until the creation of the British Champions Day in 2011 when it became the country’s most valuable horse race. The Epsom Derby has edged ahead in the meantime, although in 2020 the Champion Stakes will again have the biggest prize fund of any British race that year.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 17th October 2020
- Winner: Addeybb
- SP: 9/1
- Trainer: William Haggas
- Jockey: Tom Marquand
One mile and two furlongs is the trip for this Group 1 contest which is the headline act on British Champions Day at Ascot. Open to runners aged three and older, the race offers an excellent £750,000 in total prize money, with the ground at the track currently described as soft. We have a classy field as you would expect with such a huge purse and we should be in for a cracking showdown.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||1m 2f||Group 1||£750,000||11 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Champion Stakes Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
The three and four year olds boast the best record overall in this contest, with 15 of the 20 editions since the turn of the century falling to a runner from that age bracket. Only one runner aged older than five has proved successful over this period – a stat which speaks against the eight year old, Desert Encounter, in particular.
Two-time winner Frankie Dettori possesses the best record of this year’s riders. Having landed back to back renewals aboard Cracksman in 2017 and 2018, the irrepressible Italian gets the leg up on the well fancied Mishriff this time around.
The favourite has come home in front in each of the past four renewals of this, having won only one of the six editions prior to that. That 50% strike rate (over the last decade) is impressive enough, but with the biggest SP returned by a winning jolly being 13/8, and the shortest just 2/11, supporters of the market leader have only barely done better than break even over this period. There have been two winners at double-digit odds over the last 10 years (Fascinating Rock at 10/1 in 2015 and Cirrus Des Aigles at 12/1 in 2011).
Looking at all the major trends (excluding age) there are three who tick all the right boxes: Addeybb, Pyledriver and Magical. For trends fans these are the obvious options, with an official rating over 117, an expected SP below 14/1 and a previous place in a Group 1 perhaps the three most important trends.
|Magical||7/4||121||Aidan O'Brien||Ryan Moore|
|Mishriff||7/2||121||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|Addeybb||10/1||122||William Haggas||Tom Marquand|
Magical – 7/4
Up until last year Aidan O’Brien had not yet won this prize. That is pretty surprising considering the master handler’s record in just about every other British and Irish Group 1 over the past 10 years or so. The horse to break O’Brien’s duck in the race in 2019 was one of the yard’s real stars – Magical – and this year this wonderful mare returns to defend her crown.
Now a seven-time winner at the highest level, these look to be her optimum conditions, with the past six of those successes having come over this 1m2f trip. The daughter of Galileo is actually only the fourth top rated runner in the field, but emerges on top of the pile from a handicapping perspective once her 3lb mare’s allowance is factored in.
As a five year old, she isn’t an ideal fit in terms of age, but on this season’s form seems as well as, if not better than, ever. A winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes and the Tattersalls Gold Cup on her first two starts, she was then turned over by Ghaiyyath in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York. There’s no real shame in being beaten by the top-rated racehorse in the world though, particularly as she then gained her revenge when forging past Ghaiyyath to land the Irish Champion Stakes last time out. With subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero, Sottsass, back in fourth that day, that’s the single strongest piece of recent form on offer here and she looks a worthy market leader.
Mishriff – 7/2
Of the two John Gosden runners in the field, Lord North is certainly not to be dismissed having landed the Prince of Wales’s Stakes over course and distance earlier in the season. However, the yard’s best chance may well come in the shape of the Frankie Dettori ride, Mishriff.
As a three year old this one is a good fit in terms of age and courtesy of his 4lb weight for age allowance emerges slightly better in at the weights than his stablemate. On top of all that, the son of Make Believe also heads into the race in the form of his life, having landed each of his past three starts in eye-catching stye.
A winner of the Listed Newmarket Stakes back in June, the step up to Group 1 company for the Prix Du Jockey Club at Chantilly then proved to be no issue as he produced his trademark finishing burst to see off The Summit and the highly regarded Victor Ludorum.
Those two rivals reopposed in a heavy ground Group 2 at Deauville last time out, and this time the result was even more emphatic, as Mishriff scorched clear for a 4½l success. That ability to handle soft conditions is particularly encouraging considering the likely going for this. A perfect three from three at around this trip headed into the race, he is fancied to go very close to making it four from four.
Addeybb – 10/1
Of the older performers in the field, one who seems likely to go well is the William Haggas-trained Addeybb. As said, this one ticks a lot of trend boxes and at 10/1 is sure to attract plenty of each way cash. He put in an excellent effort in this race 12 months ago, when beating all bar this year’s favourite, Magical. Looking set to be granted his favoured soft conditions, he may well go close once again.
He may be six years old now, so another not perfectly placed in terms of age, but on this season’s efforts, this son of Pivotal would appear to be in the form of his life, and now up to a mark of 122, is actually the second best horse in the field on official ratings.
Beginning the season with back to back Group 1 successes down in Australia, he returned to home soil for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, where he ran a cracker to finish second to Lord North on ground far quicker than ideal. Stepped back down into Listed company last time out, he was then workmanlike more than impressive in giving 7lbs and a beating to a useful field at Ayr.
That effort ought to at least have teed him up nicely for what is his major late season target though. Boasting career form figures of 421312111 over this trip when the word soft has featured in the ground description, the evidence would suggest he is unlikely to be too far away. At 10/1 he may well be the value option here in a race with so many viable contenders.
Champion Stakes Winners
|2020||Addeybb||9/1||William Haggas||Tom Marquand|
|2019||Magical||Evens||Aidan O'Brien||Donnacha O'Brien|
|2018||Cracksman||5/6||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2017||Cracksman||13/8||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2016||Almanzor||11/8||Jean-Claude Rouget||Christophe Soumillon|
|2015||Fascinating Rock||10/1||Dermot Weld||Pat Smullen|
|2014||Noble Mission||7/1||Jane Cecil||James Doyle|
|2013||Farhh||11/4||Saeed bin Suroor||Silvestre De Sousa|
|2012||Frankel||2/11||Sir Henry Cecil||Tom Queally|
|2011||Cirrus Des Aigles||12/1||Corine Barande-Barbe||Christophe Soumillon|
About the British Champion Stakes
The Triple Crown has always been the Holy Grail of flat racing. Every trainer and owner dreams of having a horse who has the pace to combination of pace and stamina required to win the 1,000 or 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks or the Derby and the St Leger, but practicality dictates that flat racing is a specialist endeavour now.
Although there is a thriving stayers’ division, many of the very best and most expensively bought horses in racing stick to the lucrative middle distances. That much is clear by the quality of the fields assembled each year for the Champion Stakes, a race which plays the role of the final of the Middle Distance division of the British Champion Series.
ALWAYS A KEY MIDDLE DISTANCE CONTEST
The impressive history of the Champion Stakes begins in 1877. Then run at Newmarket, the race wasted no time in catching the attention of racing fans and the wider sporting public as it was won by a number of Classic winners in those early years.
The Champion Stakes continued with its impressive early pace and the one mile, two furlong contest quickly became one of the most important and lucrative races of the entire flat racing season. With winners of the calibre of Pretty Polly, Fairway and Rockfel before the introduction of the current grading system, it was no surprise that it became a Group 1 straightaway in 1971.
Not only has it remained at the top level since but the Champion Stakes has actually had its reputation boosted in more recent years. It was included in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge in 2009 and 2010 with an invitation into the Breeders’ Cup Turf for the winner and then became part of the new British Champions Series in 2011.
The Champion Stakes is now the final race in the Middle Distance Series after the Coronation Cup, the Epsom Derby, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, the Eclipse Stakes, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the International Stakes.
The importance of the race was hammered home with the increase in the prize fund to £1,300,000 in 2011 which saw the Champion Stakes become the richest flat race in Britain for a short period.
FRANKEL’S LAST STAND
The middle distance ranks of flat racing has always included big stars. Some are bigger than others though and for many racing fans Frankel is the best of the lot. The superstar signed his three-year-old season off with victory on British Champions Day in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and then returned a year later to end his career with another win in the Champion Stakes.
Frankel’s retirement to stud meant that he never got the chance to defend the Champion Stakes but it’s a feat which has been achieved before. Tristan is the only three time winner with victories in 1882, 1883 and 1884 although two of those wins were dead heats.
In total, 13 horses have won the Champion Stakes more than once. Two of those on the list, Lemberg and Dynamiter, were ridden by either one of the race’s most successful jockeys, Danny Maher and Charlie Elliott. Maher’s six wins all came inside an incredible decade at the beginning of the 20th century, whilst Elliott’s six triumphs range from 1923 to 1952. If it’s unlikely that either jockey will have their record beaten then it’s nigh on impossible that any trainer will surpass Alec Taylor Jr’s tally of eight wins (recorded between 1903 and 1925).
MULTIPLE CHAMPION STAKES WINNING HORSES
|Twice Over||Henry Cecil||2009||2010|
|Alborada||Sir Mark Prescott||1998||1999|
|Brigadier Gerard||Dick Hern||1971||1972|
|Dynamiter||Charles Semblat / J Glynn||1951||1952|
|Wychwood Abbot||Ted Leader||1935||1936|
|Lemberg||Alec Taylor Jr||1910||1911|