Ascot has been the home of the Champion Stakes since it was transferred from Newmarket in 2011. It is now established as the feature event on Champions Day in mid-October, the richest single race day in British racing. Champions Day 2020 will take place on Saturday 17th October.
The Group 2 Long Distance Cup gets the meeting underway at 1.20. The British Champions Sprint over six furlongs kicks off the Group 1 action at 1.55, followed by the British Champion Fillies & Mares Stakes at 2.30 and the one-mile Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at 3.05. The featured Champion Stakes concludes the Group 1 action at 3.40 before the competitive Balmoral Handicap concludes a top class day’s racing at 4.15.
Ascot Champions Day Tips
Ghaiyyath heads the entries for the Champion Stakes and a possible re-match with Irish Champion Stakes conqueror Magical. The younger generation are set to be represented by French Derby winner Mishriff. The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes is the target for the unbeaten Palace Pier where possible rivals include English and Irish 2000 Guineas winners Kameko and Godolphin’s Pinatubo.
Haydock Sprint Cup winner Dream Of Dreams and Newmarket July Cup winner Oxted are among the Champions Sprint entries. Other notable entries include St Leger winner Galileo Chrome (Long Distance Cup) and impressive Prix Vermeille winner Tarnawa (Champion Fillies & Mares Stakes).
Ascot Tips: Champion Stakes Tips
The British Champion Stakes is the richest ten furlong race in Europe and the highlight of British Champions Day at Ascot. The race was first run at Newmarket in 1877 and was immediately classed as a Group 1 contest when graded races were introduced in 1971.
Tristan (1882 – 1884) is the only horse in history to win the Champion Stakes three times. Brigadier Gerard won the 1971 renewal and followed up the following year. Other notable winners include Time Charter (1982), Pebbles (1985) and Triptych (1986, 1987).
The first running of the Champion Stakes at Ascot in 2011 was won by French champion Cirrus des Aigles. The race made headlines around the world in 2012 as Frankel defeated Cirrus des Aigles in front of a capacity crowd on his final racecourse appearance. He retired to stud undefeated in 14 races, ten of which were at Group 1 level.
Running and riding plans for this year’s race remain fluid following Magical’s victory over Ghaiyyath in the Irish Champion Stakes. Aidan O’Brien’s remarkable mare was winning her seventh Group 1 race and has several possible engagements including the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup. Ghaiyyath was not allowed to dictate the race at Leopardstown and could attempt to regain the winning thread here.
Mishriff features prominently in Ascot tips, a three-year-old colt trained by John Gosden. He produced an astonishing burst of speed to win the French Derby in July and followed up in great style in the Prix Guillaume. He revels in soft ground and John Gosden has nominated the Champion Stakes as his main Autumn objective.
Ascot Tips: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes was first run in 1955 and is one of the top mile races in Europe. The race was given Group 1 status in 1987 and has been won by many of the best milers in racing history.
Brigadier Gerard (1971 and 1972) and Rose Bowl (1975 and 1976) remain the only two horses to have won the race twice. Other notable winners include Kris (1979), Teleprompter (1984), Dubai Millennium (1999) and Frankel (2011).
The 1995 renewal was won by Bahri, trained by John Dunlop and ridden by Willie Carson. Bahri was taken wide under the trees to avoid the soft ground and the tactics paid off with a six lengths victory. He was the last of Carson’s record eight winners in the race.
John Gosden’s Palace Pier is the red hot favourite in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes this year. He won a Newcastle handicap in June before defeating Pinatubo in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. He confirmed his status as the top three-year-old miler when defeating Alpine Star and Circus Maximus in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
His main danger could be Newmarket 2000 Guineas winner Kameko. He did not stay the trip in the Epsom Derby and was denied a clear run when fourth to Mohaather in a dramatic Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. He patently failed to stay ten furlongs in the York International and now reverts to his optimum trip.
British Champions Long Distance Cup Tips
The British Champions Long Distance Cup is a Group 2 race over two miles. The race was established as the Jockey Club Cup and was held at Newmarket from 1873 to 2011. The race is remembered for the sequence of five successive victories by the popular grey Further Flight between 1991 and 1995.
Other notable past winners include Buckskin (1978), Ardross (1980) and Little Wolf (1982). Persian Punch (2000, 2002, 2003) won the race three times, his final victory coming at the grand old age of ten. The race was transferred to Ascot in 2011 and renamed the Long Distance Cup with a big injection of prize money from £65,000 to £200,000.
The Ascot race immediately became an Autumn target for Ascot Gold Cup winners. Fame and Glory (2011), Rite of Passage (2012), Order of St George (2017) and Stradivarius (2018), were all successful in this race and the Ascot Gold Cup.
Leading stayer Stradivarius suffered a rare defeat when edged out by Kew Gardens here 12 months’ ago. His participation must be in doubt as he is heading for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe this year. Stable companion Enbihaar also has a possible engagement on Arc weekend. Dual Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song could run here while English St Leger Galileo Chrome is another possible entry.
British Champions Sprint Stakes Tips
The British Champions Sprint Stakes is a Group 1 race formerly known as the Diadem Stakes. The inaugural running took place in 1946 and the race has been won by many leading sprinters over the years. Set Fair (1952 and 1954) and Jack And Jill (1958 and 1959) remain the only dual winners. It was renamed in 2011 and awarded Group 1 status four years’ later.
Other notable winners include Moorestyle (1981), Never So Bold (1984), Cadeaux Genereux (1988) and Gordon Lord Byron (2014). Lester Piggott is the most successful jockey in the race’s history with seven winners, his last coming aboard Salieri in 1983.
Dream Of Dreams staked his claim to be recognised as Champion Sprinter when taking the Haydock Sprint Cup. He reversed the Diamond Jubilee Stakes form with Hello Youmzain as he followed up his wide margin victory in Newbury’s Hungerford Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute’s gelding is likely to feature in plenty ascot tips & predictions.
The race could also see the return to action of July Cup winner Oxted. Roger Teal’s four-year-old is unproven on soft ground but his pedigree suggests that he will handle it. One horse who won’t run if the going is testing is Khaadem, the winner of the 2019 Stewards’ Cup. He has run well at Ascot and Newmarket this season but faded behind Donjuan Triumphant in heavy ground here last year.
Ascot Tips: British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes
The British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes over a mile and a half was formerly known as the Princess Royal Stakes. The race was first run in 1946 and Shebeen became the first horse to win the race twice in 1974 and 1975. Her achievement was matched by Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Capella with victories in 2008 and 2010.
Other notable winners include Free Guest (1985), Snow Bride (1989) and Ouija Board (2005). Epsom Oaks winner Ouija Board won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2004 and 2006. The race was renamed in 2011 with prize money doubled to half a million pounds. Trainer John Dunlop was successful nine times in this race, registering one more victory than leading jockey Lester Piggott.
Magical could become the third horse to win this race twice if attempting to add to her 2018 victory. Aidan O’Brien has the Champion Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as alternative options for his star mare. His Highness The Aga Khan appears to have the ideal filly for this race in Tarnawa after her Vermeille Stakes success.
Ascot betting offers
New customers can expect some terrific Champions Day offers from bookmakers. In 2018 Betfair offered new customers 33-1 for favourite Cracksman to a maximum £1 stake to win the Champion Stakes. The odds-on favourite won by six lengths under Frankie Dettori, a great way to open your account!
Ascot Free Bets
As well as some enticing new customer offers, existing customers should look out for free bets on Champions Day. Paddy Power have frequently offered free £5 bets on the first televised race at big meetings this summer. Bet365 have rewarded customers who back a winner at 4-1 on any live ITV race with a risk free bet to the same stake on the next ITV race. You simply place your bet and any losses will be returned to your account.
Ascot Live Streaming
ITV Racing will have extensive live coverage of Champions Day 2020. If you cannot get to a television set, you can view the races live on the internet by placing a bet with your bookmaker.
British Champions Day Live Streaming
All six races on Champions Day can be viewed live online by placing a small qualifying bet with your bookmaker. Most bookmakers provide this service for a small stake, typically just £1.
Champions Day FAQ’s
Is Champions Day cancelled?
No, Champions Day will go ahead as planned
What date is Champions Day?
Champions Day at Ascot is on Saturday 17th October
Can you buy tickets for Champions Day 2020?
Champions Day is likely to go ahead behind closed doors in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.