Four of the world’s best six horses feature among the entries for the £4.35m QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 20th October.
Potential runners include the current holder of the QIPCO Champion Stakes, Cracksman, and last year’s runner-up and currently the joint-highest rated horse on the planet in Poet’s Word. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Poet’s Word beat stablemate Crystal Ocean in last month’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) at Ascot in a memorable race.
The roll-call of entries competing for a record-breaking £4.35 million worth of prize money also includes Jessica Harrington’s superstar miler Alpha Centauri, who has been included in the field for the £1.1 million Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, sponsored by QIPCO. Charlie Hills’ fleet-footed Battaash is also among the world’s top-rated six and has been given the option of the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes. Other stand-out names amongst the 247 entries include stablemates Enable and Gold Cup winner Stradivarius as well as Classic winners including Study of Man, Laurens and Forever Together.
Aidan O’Brien has enjoyed more success on QIPCO British Champions Day than any other trainer with a total of five victories, and that tally was boosted last year by victory for Order Of St George in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup and the success of Hydrangea in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.
It was with Hydrangea, who won last year’s QICPO British Champions Distance Cup, that O’Brien equalled the previous world-best record of Bobby Frankel for 25 Group or Grade 1 winners last year. He would go on to break the record a week later at Doncaster with Saxon Warrior, now a Classic-winning colt and himself entered to run this year in both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) and the QIPCO Champion Stakes.
"It was a special occasion when Hydrangea won last year and equalled the record. It's very much possible that she could be back to try and win the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes again,” said O’Brien.
"QIPCO British Champions Day is a meeting where the standard is always very high, the best horses are taking part and the races are hard to win, so it was very good to be able to send out two winners last year.
"We’ve got a number of entries and obviously things will become clearer over the weeks and months ahead, but it’s an important day of racing and I hope we will be able to enjoy more success there.”
Clive Cox who is bidding to have Harry Angel fit again for the raceday added, “It’s a meeting you want to be involved at, a very special day, an occasion to savour and always a fitting finale to the season.”
Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, whose family are involved with running QIPCO Holding, sponsors of the event, could have several high-profile contenders under his Qatar Racing ownership through Group 1 winners Roaring Lion and Lightning Spear.
David Redvers, Qatar Racing’s racing and bloodstock manager, said, “QIPCO British Champions Day has grown in stature and been maturing, and everyone is thrilled with the way it’s being received and understood. We no longer feel that we have to explain what it is, everyone knows and everyone wants to be there.”
Tickets for QIPCO British Champions Day are On Sale now, priced from £35 for adults, with Group discounts available.