Dubai: Ascot’s British Champions Day, the richest fixture in British racing history, has received a royal boost with the addition of an exciting new race, the £250,000 Balmoral Handicap.
The race will be open to a maximum field of 30 horses who have earned qualification by finishing in the first six in 18 nominated qualifier races during the season.
It will be run as the last race on the October 18 card which now boast a record £3.75 million in prize money.
Charles Barnett, Chief Executive at Ascot, said: “Her Majesty The Queen has graciously consented to the name Balmoral Handicap being re-introduced for the new race on QIPCO British Champions Day.
“The last time the race title was used was at Royal Ascot 2003, when it was a five furlong handicap, which was replaced to make way for the then new Group Two Windsor Forest Stakes. It has very much been on our mind to bring back this name when an appropriate opportunity such as this arose,” he added in a press release.
The Balmoral Handicap will also sit alongside the £1.3m Group 1 QIPCO Champion Stakes, the world’s highest-rated race, the £1m Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the world’s fourth highest-rated race, the £350,000 Group 2 QIPCO British Champions Sprint, the newly upgraded Group 2 QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (up by £100,000 to £300,000) and the Group 1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (up by £50,000 to £550,000).
Many of the most famous handicaps that take place throughout the season, including the Royal Hunt Cup, the 32Red Bunbury Cup and the Betfred Cambridgeshire, are included in the qualifying races which will be staged at each of the QIPCO British Champions Series’ participant racecourses.
Rod Street, Chief Executive of British Champions Series, commented: “We are delighted to be staging the richest mile handicap in Europe on QIPCO British Champions Day and we expect the race to appeal to racegoers and punters alike.
“Overall prize money on QIPCO British Champions Day has increased by 25 per cent since the inaugural renewal in 2011. This record-breaking prize fund underpins the day’s status as one of the most important race meetings in the World.
“We are extremely grateful to have been granted a Royal title for the new handicap, adding further prestige to Britain’s showpiece conclusion to the British Champions Series season. We are also appreciative of QIPCO’s continued vision for this raceday and their backing of the new race.”
David Redvers, Racing Manager for QIPCO and Qatar Racing, added: “HH Shaikh Hamad Al Thani and QIPCO are delighted to be involved in yet more innovation in British racing, and are proud to sponsor another race bearing a Royal title.
“The qualification mechanic is something that we hope will generate considerable interest and intrigue throughout the season and The Balmoral Handicap should prove to be one of the most competitive races of the year.”