Prize money for QIPCO British Champions Day is to be restored almost to pre-COVID-19 levels, organizers have announced.
A total of £4 million will be on offer at Ascot Oct. 16, just £200,000 below the highwater mark of 2019 and representing a rapid recovery from last year, when the card suffered a 40% cut in prize money due to the impact of the pandemic on racing’s finances.
“We are very grateful to QIPCO and British Champions Series for putting up such a valuable race day,” the champion trainer said.
“It is so important for British racing that there is internationally competitive prize money on offer for owners, who are the bedrock of our sport. Champions Day has quickly become one of the most important race days in the global racing calendar and, with such prize money, I am sure it will continue to thrive.”
The QIPCO Champion Stakes (G1), Britain’s most valuable race, will be worth £1.2 million this year, an increase of 60% on the pandemic-affected renewal won by Addeybb . Prize money for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) will be £1.1 million, matching the equivalent figure from 2019 when it was won by King of Change .
The other three group races on the card will be worth £500,000 each, having been cut to £300,000 or £350,000 last year. The Balmoral Handicap that closes the card will double in value to £200,000.
Among those behind the announcement was Sheikh Fahad al Thani, director of QIPCO, who noted that this year will mark the 10th anniversary of his family’s support for the event.
“The day has established itself at the pinnacle of the global racing calendar and it is only fitting that the prize money reflects that,” he said.
Richard Hannon, trainer of King of Change, also welcomed the news, saying: “You always want to have runners on QIPCO British Champions Day and it’ll be even more important this year, with such fantastic prize money on offer. All credit to QIPCO and the team for making it happen, it’s a real boost for everyone in the game.”
The timing of the announcement, five months ahead of the fixture, appears intended to give confidence to owners and trainers mapping out campaigns for high-class horses. It comes on the day after the general return of spectators to English racecourses, offering hope that the sport can now work its way back towards some kind of financial stability.
In addition to QIPCO’s sponsorship, prize money for the card is underwritten by British Champions Series, whose spokesperson said: “Despite the lack of certainty around all our revenues at present, the prospect of the return of spectators and no disruption to this year’s racing calendar provides us with the confidence to make this early commitment.”