Race Series Unveiled in Great Britain
Updated: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 4:16 PM
Posted: Monday, July 7, 2008 1:49 PM
Ambitious plans to boost the profile of British racing have been unveiled involving the Sovereign Series, a new initiative that will link 10 of Britain’s best Group I contests with the aim of producing a champion racehorse each year.
The points-based scheme, which is due to start in 2010, will double the existing prize money on offer for the 10 races to £10 million a year, with the first, second and third of each series sharing a £2 million prize annually and £300,000 being added to the prize money of each race, making them even more attractive targets.
The races include two of Britain’s five classics -- the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket (a mile) and the Epsom Derby (12 furlongs), open just to 3-year-olds -- while the Lockinge Stakes (a mile) at Newbury and the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (10 furlongs) at Royal Ascot are limited to older horses. This means that eight races of the Sovereign Series will be open for any given racehorse.
The other six races are over a mile - Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot - 10 furlongs - the Coral Eclipse at Sandown and the Juddmonte International - and 12 furlongs - King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes - also at Ascot.
The Sovereign Series will culminate with the 10-furlong Champion Stakes at Newmarket in October.
The concept has been created by specialist subscription broadcaster Racing UK and Ascot Racecourse and will be funded by terrestrial TV deals and sponsorship revenue. It is hoped that all 10 races will be sold to one broadcaster and that a group of partners will sponsor the whole series to create a unified product that can be promoted to sports fans in general. A new company, jointly owned by the two entities, will manage the terrestrial broadcasting rights.
The aim is to have a television audience of three million per race, currently only achieved by the Epsom Derby which is broadcast by the BBC. Channel 4 shows six of the 10 races at the moment and there are fears it could pull out of broadcasting racing 400 races nationally a year if losing out on the Sovereign Series.
Simon Bazalgette, executive chairman of Racing UK and chief executive designate of the Jockey Club, said: "Horseracing is one of Britain’s great sports but is faced with increasing competition from other sports and leisure activities so racing needs to evolve and appeal to a wider audience. We believe the Sovereign Series will capture the imagination of a new generation of sports fans who have never before been interested in racing.
"By linking Britain’s best Flat races into a season-long competition, the Sovereign Series will strengthen consumer interest in the sport and create a new proposition for broadcasters and sponsors.
"Our vision is that in five years the Sovereign Series will have become established as a major sports competition on the British calender alongside Wimbledon, The Open and other similar events."
A further £3 million is expected to be devoted to the marketing and promotion of the Sovereign Series.
The organisers say that if the expected points system had been operating in previous years then Ramonti and Authorized would have shared the spoils in 2007, with George Washington winning in 2006 and Azamour successful in 2005.
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