A Guide to the Champion Stakes

The Champion Stakes is the Group 1 feature race scheduled on the final day of the Champions' Meeting hosted annually in October at Newmarket Racecourse. Today, it is one of the most anticipated races of the autumn season as the final race in the British Champions Series' Middle-Distance category. In 2009, it was made a stable part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge meaning that the winner of the Champion Stakes also earns automatic entry to compete in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

A Breakdown of the
Champion Stakes

This event is run on a flat racecourse, the newly designated, Inner Flat Course of the Rowley Mile over a distance of one mile and two furlongs. It is open to Group 1 thoroughbreds that are at least three years or older. The total purse stands at £1.3 Million (2017). The weight requirement varies based on age and gender. Three-year-old colts must carry 9 stones-1 pound, and fillies of the same age must carry 8st-12lbs. Four-year-olds must carry 9st-5lbs or 9st-2lbs respectively.

fact file

location: Ascot Racecourse

grade: Grade 1

race type: Flat race

A Time Honoured Tradition

The Champion Stakes is one of a small number of races which hasn't changed very much since being established in 1877. The format, age of entry and distance of the race have remained the same from the very first race won by Springfield.

The core details of the race may not have changed, however, both the location and potential prize have. Originally, the race was held on Newmarket Racecourse from 1877 to 2010. In 2011, the purse soared nearly amounting to triple of what was previously offered, and the race itself moved to Ascot. Currently, it is considered to be the richest race of its length in Europe with a purse of £1,300,000 and a top prize of £737,230 as of 2017.

Records

Listed below are the current record holders for the prestigious Champion Stakes. Since its inception in 1877, this race is attracted top competitors and can certainly be considered a standard for excellence in the sport testing the endurance and athleticism of middle-distance runners (as of 2017) .

  • New Approach, the winner of the 2008 race, set a new record time of 2m: 00.12sec. He was the first Derby winner to also take the Champion Stakes since 1968's Sir Ivor.

  • Currently, two jockeys hold the record for most wins. Danny Maher won six times in the early 19th century from Osboch in 1901 to Lemberg in 1910. A decade later, Charlie Elliott also won six times from Ellangowan in 1923 to Dynamiter in 1951 and 1952.

  • The thoroughbred with the most wins in the history of the race is Tristan who won the 1882, 1883 and 1884 races.

  • Alec Taylor Junior trained the most winners in the history of the race with eight thoroughbreds from the legendary filly Scepter in 1903 to Picaroon in 1925.

  • Sir Henry Cecil is the most successful trainer in modern times with five wins from Indian Skimmer in 1988 to Frankel in 2012.

Best Moments

Legendary competitors make for epic moments in racing history. The Champion Stakes has seen greats such as Sceptre (1903), Bayardo (1909), Brigadier Gerard (1971, 1972), and Frankel (2012), among others (as of 2017) .

jockey racing horse
  • The most successful horse in the Champion Stakes is the prolific Tristan, one of horse racing's first equine superstars. Tristan won the Champion Stakes three consecutive times in 1882, 1883, and 1884. Currently, he remains the only horse to achieve this to date.

  • 2012's winner, Frankel, is the highest rated thoroughbred in the past decade with a career record of 14 wins from 14 starts. The Champion Stakes was the last of his career. It made for a thrilling finish, as he struggled at first due to poor turf conditions only to end his unbeatable winning streak with a dramatic victory.

  • Alec Taylor's Bayardomay arguably be the best to have competed in the Champion Stakes. This race was added to his long list of prestigious wins in 1909. By the end of his career, Bayardo boasted 22 wins from 25 starts. As a stud, this champion thoroughbred was also successful siring Gainsborough who was also trained by Alec Taylor and went on to win the 1918 Triple Crown.