The first Saturday in October at Newmarket brings the last race in the British Champions Series before Ascot’s British Champion Day at the end of the month, and comes in the form of the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes.
First run in 1966, the race is named after the great racehorse Sun Chariot who won the Fillies’ Triple Crown of the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger Stakes in 1942 when all the Classics took place at Newmarket due to World War II.
The mare Sahpresa won an historic hattrick of wins in the Sun Chariot Stakes between 2009 and 2011 for French trainer Rodolphe ‘Rod’ Collet. Sahpresa, along with Luca Cumani’s two-time winner Free Guest, are the only horses to win this more than once.
Sun Chariot Stakes Course Map (Rowley Mile)
Sun Chariot Stakes Past Winners
|2021||Saffron Beach||5/1||Jane Chapple-Hyam||William Buick|
|2020||Nazeef||17/2||John Gosden||Jim Crowley|
|2019||Billesdon Brook||16/1||Richard Hannon||Sean Levey|
|2018||Laurens||11/4||Karl Burke||Daniel Tudhope|
|2017||Roly Poly||4/1||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2016||Alice Springs||13/8||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2015||Esoterique||11/8||André Fabre||Pierre-Charles Boudot|
|2014||Integral||7/2||Sir Michael Stoute||Ryan Moore|
|2013||Sky Lantern||7/4||Richard Hannon Snr||Richard Hughes|
|2012||Siyouma||12/1||Francois Doumen||Gerald Mosse|
|2011||Sahpresa||13/8||Rod Collet||Christophe Lemaire|
|2010||Sahpresia||9/2||Rod Collett||Christophe Soumillon|
|2009||Sahpresia||16/1||Rod Collett||Ted Durcan|
|2008||Halfway to Heaven||8/1||Aidan O'Brien||Seamie Heffernan|
|2007||Majestic Roi||16/1||Mick Channon||Darryll Holland|
|2006||Spinning Queen||12/1||Barry Hills||Michael Hills|
|2005||Peeress||7/1||Sir Michale Stoute||Kevin Darley|
|2004||Attraction||11/4||Mark Johnston||Kevin Darley|
|2003||Echoes in Eternity||9/1||Saeed bin Suroor||Jamie Spencer|
|2002||Dress to Thrill||11/8||Dermot Weld||Pat Smullen|
About the Sun Chariot Stakes: Fillies Shine in October
Newmarket racecourse scores top marks for consistency when it comes to the provision of high-quality flat racing action over the course of the season, with the track staging at least one Group class contest every month between April and November.
October is something of a bumper month in this regard, with a clutch of Group 1 events being staged at the Suffolk venue – including this one-mile affair for the fillies. First run back in 1966, the race was initially restricted to three year olds, and held over the longer trip of 1m2f. The opening up of the race to the older fillies came relatively early in 1974, but it wasn’t until the year 2000 that the distance was cut to one mile. Just four years after that, the contest gained Group 1 status for the first time in 2004.
The Sun Chariot of the race’s title refers to one of the greatest fillies ever to have graced the Rowley Mile. A winner of eight of her nine career starts, the King George VI-owned Sun Chariot bagged top spot in the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger in 1942, becoming just the seventh filly to land the Triple Crown. Due to the war, all three of those Classics were staged at Newmarket in 1942, so it is only fitting that it is here at the headquarters of the flat racing game that she has a race named in her honour.
Classic Generation Dominate
In common with other events of its type, the three year olds receive a three pound weight allowance from their older rivals in this race, and a look at the history of previous winners would suggest that that seemingly small allowance has proven to be a significant advantage.
Since the race was first opened to the older fillies in 1974, the three year olds have come home in front three quarters of the time. Even accounting for the fact that they tend to be the most strongly represented age group in the race, that is still a pretty formidable record.
Luca Leads The Way
The now retired Luca Cumani was a trainer who tasted his fair share of success with his fillies during his career overall, but nowhere more so than in this contest. Cumani’s total of six wins is good enough for the all-time lead as of 2021, but with big guns Sir Michael Stoute and Aiden O’Brien featuring prominently amongst the chasing pack, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see him joined at the head of affairs in the not too distant future.
Special Praise For Sahpresa
The name of French trainer Rod Collet features in our top trainers table thanks to the exploits of just the one horse. The remarkable Sahpresa ran in 12 Group 1 contests over the course of her career – being beaten on nine occasions and winning three times. She certainly seemed to like it here at Newmarket though, with all three of those top-level triumphs coming in this very race. Successful here in 2009, 2010 and 2011, as of 2021 she remains both the only three-time winner, and the only six year old to ever come home in front.