Great Britain took a big step March 5 toward growing the international stature of its flat racing by creating a £4.5m "Champions Weekend," featuring six group I races in 2014.
Beginning next year Newmarket's Rowley Mile will host Dubai Future Champions Day prior to the QIPCO British Champions Day, which is further enhancing its appeal by boosting its purses by £350,000 this year.
"I'm very pleased that Dubai Future Champions Day will increase its status as Europe 's two-year-old championship day by featuring three group I races for the first time in 2014 and as part of a superb two-day climax to the premier Flat racing season," said Amy Starkey, East Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, which runs Newmarket Racecourses. "We have made this move in the best interests of British racing, working with multiple interested parties and listening to feedback from trainers who asked us to help resolve the outstanding issues with the 2-year-old pattern."
The group I Fillies' Mile switches places with the group II Rockfel Stakes and will join the group I Dubai Dewhurst Stakes and the group I Vision.ae Middle Park Stakes on Dubai Future Champions Day.
On QIPCO British Champions Day, the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes has been upgraded to group I status and has doubled in value to £500,000. The day's other marquee events include group I QIPCO Champion Stakes and the group I Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by QIPCO.
Reverting to a gap of nearly two weeks between the 2-year-old races at Longchamp's Arc weekend and Dubai Future Champions Day and moving races like the Fillies' Mile is expected to improve a number of issues with Britain's 2-year-old autumn program.
"One of the main underlying reasons for creating British Champions Day was to maintain and protect Britain's status as a world-leading flat racing nation," said Rod Street, chief executive of British Champions Limited. "The upgrade to the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes and the injection of another £350,00 in prize money to the day this October represent fantastic progress in only year three.
"We aspire to make ours the best flat race day in the world and the alignment with Dubai Future Champions Day in 2014 presents the perfect opportunity to build something even bigger than that," Street continued.
The Dubai Future Champions Day Program, October 17, 2014
Dewhurst (Eng-I), 2yo c&f, seven furlongs
Middle Park (Eng-I), 2yo c, six furlongs
Fillies' Mile (Eng-I), 2yo f, 8 furlongs
Challenge (Eng-II), 3yo+, seven furlongs
Cornwallis (Eng-III), 2yo, five furlongs
Darley (Eng-III), 3yo+, nine furlongs
Pride Stakes, 3yo+ f, 10 furlongs