Fillies and Mares are able to take part in any of the climactic races featuring at Ascot on British Champions Day, but only the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes is reserved especially for them. It stands as one of the top all-female races of the season and is always able to draw in some high-quality names.
The Group 1 contest has run under several guises since its inception in 1946, as well as being swatted back and forth between Newmarket and Ascot. In all that time, no trainer has won three successive editions of the race. Aidan O’Brien was the latest to narrowly miss out on a hat-trick having won in 2017 with Hydrangea and 2018 with Magical. In 2019 Delphinia was beaten by a short head by John Gosden’s Star Catcher.
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: Wonderful Tonight
- SP: 4/1
- Trainer: David Menuisier
- Jockey: William Buick
Open to fillies and mares aged three years and older, this Group 1 1m4f event is the highlight of British Champions Day for the female performers. It offers an excellent £350,000 in total prize money with almost £200,000 going to winning connections. The ground at the track is currently described as soft.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||1m4f||Group 1||£350,000||12 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Fillies & Mares 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.
John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien have been the dominant forces in British and Irish racing over the past 10 years or so, and with two previous wins in this race apiece, it is they who boast the best record of the trainers on show this year. They each send two into battle, with Gosden relying on Frankly Darling and Mehdaayih, and O’Brien saddling Laburnum and Passion.
The three year olds have landed each of the past three editions of this, and boast an exceptional record overall, with 30 of the past 39 winners hailing from the Classic generation.
Eight of the past 10 winners of this have returned an SP of 6/1 or shorter. But only one of these has been the outright favourite, resulting in a level stakes loss of £3.83 for supporters of the market leader.
|Wonderful Tonight||7/2||114||David Menuisier||William Buick|
|Dame Malliot||9/2||114||Ed Vaughan||Hollie Doyle|
|Even So||6/1||111||Ger Lyons||Colin Keane|
Wonderful Tonight – 7/2
Given the recent, and overall, record of the three year olds, it is no real surprise to see that it is a runner from that age bracket who currently heads the betting. What is perhaps a little surprising though is that it is not one of the O’Brien or Gosden runners who sits atop the market, but rather the David Menusier-trained filly, Wonderful Tonight.
Menusier may not enjoy quite the same high profile as the O’Briens and Gosdens of the world. But he is more than capable of striking on the big stage granted the right ammunition, as evidenced by his previous Group 1 successes in both Germany and France. It was in fact Wonderful Tonight who bagged that top level French victory when scoring in the Qatar Prix de Royallieu on Arc weekend last time out.
That success did come over 1m6f, but it was hard not be impressed with just how smoothly she travelled into the race that day, before showing real guts and determination to find more once challenged inside the final furlong. That effort was enough to earn the daughter of Le Havre a rating of 114. Once we factor in the three year old weight for age allowance, that makes her the one to beat on ratings. Already a winner at this trip, and three from four on heavy ground, she rates a threat to all with William Buick in the saddle.
Dame Malliot – 9/2
Leading the charge for the older runners this year is the Ed Vaughan representative, Dame Malliot, who will have the assistance of, woman of the moment, Holly Doyle in the saddle. Also rated at 114, as a four year old she has to concede six poundss to the younger performers, which doesn’t make life easy, but other than that there’s plenty to like about her chances.
Only once outside of the first three in eight career starts, the Anthony Oppenheimer-owned filly scores top marks for consistency, particularly as much of that form has come at a pretty high level. Only raced once as a juvenile – winning a novice event at Wolverhampton comfortably – she stepped up nicely last season, with her peak effort coming when landing a heavy ground Group 2 contest at around this trip over in France.
Making her seasonal comeback with a strong staying victory in the Prince of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket, it was Group 1 company for the daughter of Champs Elyseees after that. And whilst she hasn’t managed to win in those two recent starts at the top table, she has run with great credit in going down by under a length in the Preis von Europa in Germany. She also finished third in the Prix Vermeile in France – with Wonderful Tonight amongst those in behind her that day. Another runner proven over the trip, and in the conditions, she shouldn’t be too far away.
Even So – 6/1
It has already been quite a year for Irish handler Ger Lyons courtesy of the Classic successes of Siskin and Even So; and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise were he to finish the season on a high note with his Irish Oaks heroine, Even So, who arrives here with strong form claims.
A winner at the second time of asking during her juvenile campaign, she returned with a slightly disappointing defeat at odds on at Naas in March. Before that she ran with credit to finish a staying on fifth in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, when hinting that a step up in trip may be the order of the day. Improving for moving up to 1m2f when landing the Listed Oaks Trial back at Naas, she then found more again in the Irish Oaks itself over this distance. Travelling ominously well throughout that day, she stayed on really powerfully down the outside in what was a strongly run race to score by two lengths under today’s rider, Colin Keane.
Her effort last time out when behind Dame Malliot, Laburnum and Wonderful Tonight was a little disappointing on the face of it. However, that race turned into something of a sprint having been run at a crawl in the early stages, and clearly didn’t suit this horse who looks all about stamina at the trip. Granted a stronger pace to aim at here, she can be fancied to go very close.
Fillies & Mares Stakes Winners
|2020||Wonderful Tonight||4/1||David Menuisier||William Buick|
|2019||Star Catcher||7/4||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2018||Magical||5/1||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2017||Hydrangea||4/1||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2016||Journey||4/1||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2015||Simple Verse||6/1||Ralph Beckett||Andrea Atzeni|
|2014||Madame Chiang||12/1||David Simcock||Jim Crowley|
|2013||Seal Of Approval||16/1||James Fanshawe||George Baker|
|2012||Sapphire||5/2||Dermot Weld||Pat Smullen|
|2011||Dancing Rain||6/1||William Haggas||Johnny Murtagh|
About the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes
Horse racing is a sport full of tradition. Whether it’s races, courses or the competitors, racing is a sport that celebrates its history. It cannot thrive simply by looking backwards though. Racing has had to innovate in recent times including with the introduction of the British Champions Series.
The Fillies’ and Mares’ Series is one of the five divisions of the British Champions Series. It is comprised of seven races – the 1,000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks, the Coronation Stakes, the Falmouth Stakes, the Nassau Stakes, the Yorkshire Oaks and finally, the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes.
As the final race of the division, the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes crowns the winner of the series and is therefore a very important contest in the flat racing season. As with the other series finals it had its name changed in 2011 with the introduction of British Champions Day which takes place each October at Ascot Racecourse.
A RACE WORTHY OF GROUP 1 STATUS
The British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes was promoted to Group 1 status in 2013, just two years after it became one of the key races on British Champions Day. The journey to top level status actually started back in 1946 when the race was first run at Ascot as the Princess Royal Stakes, named after Princess Mary (shown above).
The Princess Royal Stakes was an instant hit with many of the leading fillies and mares competing in a race that always took place in the latter stages of the flat racing season. The prestige of the race was made clear when the current system of grading was introduced in 1971 as it was given Group 3 status.
Little has changed in the nature of the race over the years. It’s still open to fillies and mares aged three and older and run over a distance of one mile, three furlongs and 211 yards (it’s commonly written as one mile and four furlongs on race cards). The name and course have changed more than once though.
The first of those changes came in 2008 when the race was renamed the Pride Stakes and transferred to Newmarket. That move saw the race scheduled during Newmarket’s Champions’ Meeting in October and coincided with a move up to Group 2 level. The move to Newmarket proved to be short lived as the race was back at Ascot for the first British Champions Day in 2011, the first year in which it went under the current name.
Throughout the changes in venue and levels the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes has always produced top quality winners. The likes of Attica Meli, Snow Bride and Ouija Board have all won this contest but only two horses have one more than once – Shebeen (1974, 1975) and Crystal Capella (2008, 2010).
DUNLOP’S LONGEVITY SUMMED UP IN ONE RACE
John Dunlop’s death in 2018 hit the world of horse racing hard. The Arundel-based trainer was a permanent fixture in the lives of many involved in the sport and several leading trainers learned a great deal from Dunlop. His 3,000+ winners came over a number of decades and included many of the biggest races on the flat including the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes for which he holds the training record with nine wins which were spread over 40 years when it was the Princess Royal Stakes.
Lester Piggott, the jockey with the most wins in the race, managed just one fewer victory with eight which were themselves spread by 25 years. As mentioned above, only two horses have won this race more than once with Shebeen the only horse to win in consecutive years.