Watership Down Stud, owned by Lord and Lady Andrew Lloyd-Webber, has signed a three-year deal to sponsor Ascot's new Sales Race, which was created by the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association and will be run for the first time on Friday 28 September 2001, day one of the new-look Ascot Festival.
To be called the Watership Down Stud Sales Race and carrying a guaranteed minimum value of £250,000, the new race is restricted to two-year-old fillies sold or bought-in at the major UK yearling sales held between Sept. 1-Dec. 31, 2000. It will be run over a new distance for Ascot of 6.5 furlongs. A total of 662 fillies are qualified for the race and entries close on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at a cost of £300.
Watership Down Stud is situated close to Newbury, Berkshire and was established in 1993. From a small but select band of broodmares,
Lady Lloyd-Webber commented: "The last four years have been wonderfully lucky and successful for us and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to put something back into racing. The Watership Down Stud Sales Race is a great concept in that it will help to market the British Thoroughbred. We are very glad to be part of it and hope that it will be well supported."
Nick Cheyne, Clerk of the Course at Ascot, said: "We are delighted to have secured such a major sponsor for this exciting new race that we are staging in partnership with the TBA. The race closes at the end of this month, so the message to all those with an eligible filly is Sales Race will add a fantastic new highlight to what will now be a three-day Ascot Festival, increasing the international importance of a meeting which already features the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the Meon Valley Stud Fillies' Mile, the Serpentine Gallery Royal Lodge Stakes and the Diadem Stakes."
Nigel Elwes, the TBA Chairman, said: "It is very exciting to be involved with Watership Down Stud and Ascot Racecourse in staging this tremendous new...the Watership Down Stud Sales Race has already had a positive impact on the price of fillies at the sales -- the main reason for creating the contest -- and I look forward to this continuing."