The Sun Chariot Stakes is the last of three Group 1 races staged during the Cambridgeshire Meeting which is a three-day flat racing event held at Newmarket Racecourse. It is run on the famous Rowley Mile over a full one-mile distance as a flat race open to thoroughbred fillies and mares aged three and older. The Cambridge Meeting takes place in late September or early October, and the Sun Chariot Stakes is reserved as the feature race of the festival's final day.
The Sun Chariot Stakes is held on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket Racecourse each year. The course itself is right-handed, however, this 8 furlong race covers a straight portion of the track. It is open exclusively to Group 1 fillies and mares that are at least three years of age. The weight requirement varies based on age. Three-year-olds must carry 9 stones, while four-year-olds are required to carry 9st-3lbs.
location: Newmarket Racecourse
grade: Group 1 Fillies and Mares
race type: Flat
When the race was introduced in 1966, it was open to three-year-old fillies only and stretched over a distance of 10 furlongs. This new race for young female horses was named in honour of Sun Chariot - the winner of the 1942 Fillies' Triple Crown. In this particular year, all three races of the Fillies' Triple Crown, including the 1,000 Guineas Stakes, Epsom Oaks, and St. Leger Stakes, were held at Newmarket Racecourse. This was because many of the other courses were requisitioned as ideal locations to aid the British war effort during World War II.
In 1974, the event was amended to include both fillies and mares aged three or older widening the potential field. However, it was not until 2004 that the Sun Chariot Stakes was elevated to Group 1 status. Today, it is one of the most exciting races held during the Cambridge Meeting with an impressive purse of £250,000 up for grabs. Often thoroughbreds that compete in the 1000 Guineas Stakes and Champion Stakes are also seen running the Sun Chariot.
In over half a century since it was first established, the Sun Chariot Stakes has hosted top-class fillies, trainers, and jockeys that have given record-setting performances. Below are a few of the most current records in the history of the race (as of 2017).
The mare with the most wins is Sahpresa who won back-to-back races in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Her record of three wins remains unbroken to date.
The most successful trainer in the history of the race is Luca Cumani with six wins from Free Guest in 1984 to Kissogram in1998.
The jockey with the most wins is Lester Piggott who won on six occasions from 1970 to 1981. His first win was on Popkins in 1970, followed by Cheveley Princess in '73, then triple consecutive wins on Topsy in 1979, Snow in 1980, and Home on the Range in 1981.
Ryan Moore is the most successful jockey in recent times with three wins from 2014 to 2017. Moore won in 2014 with Integral followed shortly thereafter by Alice Springs in 2016 and Roly Poly in 2017.
Sahpresa (2009, 2010, and 2011) is the thoroughbred with the fastest recorded time of 1m: 34.40sec since the race was changed from 10f to 8f in 2000.
Since its inaugural running in 1966, the Sun Chariot Stakes has been a key event for female thoroughbreds. Even before it was elevated to Group 1 status in 2004, top competitors such as Lester Piggott, Henry Cecil and Michael Stoute (among others) have aimed for the prize. Have a look at some of the best competitors in the history of the race (as of 2017).
Notable thoroughbreds that won the Sun Chariot Stakes when it was at a lower level, but then went on to win the climactic Group 1 Champion Stakes include Swiss Maid (1978), Time Charter (1982), Cormorant Wood (1983) and Indian Skimmer (1988).
After the race was elevated to Group 1 status, notable winners include Attraction (2004), Halfway to Heaven (2008) and Sky Lantern (2013). Attraction stands out as the strongest competitor with 10 wins from 15 starts. Five are group 1 wins achieved in 2004 when she took the 1000 Guineas, Irish 1000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, Chariot Stakes and Matron Stakes in a single year. Another 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes winner to take the Sun Chariot is Sky Lantern. As for Halfway to Heaven, she won the Irish Guineas Stakes and Nassau Stakes before claiming the Sun Chariot in 2008.