03/05/2013 2:57PM

British schedule 'Champions Weekend' for 2014


The schedule of late-season major stakes in England has been revamped for the autumn of 2014 to create consecutive days with a total of six Group 1 races at two venues, officials announced on Tuesday.

For 2014, three Group 1 stakes for 2-year-olds – the Fillies’ Mile, Middle Park Stakes over six furlongs, and Dewhurst Stakes over seven furlongs – will be run at Newmarket on Friday, Oct. 17. The following day, the British Champions Day program will be run at Ascot, featuring three Group 1 races – the Champion Stakes over 1 1/4 miles, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile, and British Champions Day Fillies and Mares Stakes over 1 1/2 miles.

The two days are being packaged as a “Champions Weekend,” with approximately $6.8 million in purses.

Last year, the Middle Park, Dewhurst, and Rockfel stakes were run at Newmarket on Saturday, Oct. 13, seven days before the British Champions Day at Ascot. For 2014, the Fillies’ Mile replaces the Rockfel on that program, which is being called “Future Champions Day.”

The new schedule will give British racing a major two-day festival of racing that will compete to some extent for leading horses with the major stakes on the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend in Paris in early October, and the Breeders’ Cup in this country in early November.

Of a more immediate effect, the British Champions Day Fillies and Mares Stakes has been upgraded from a Group 2 to a Group 1 for 2013, and will be worth approximately $760,000. The race was worth $421,000 last year.

The purse of the Group 2 British Champions Sprint over six furlongs has been increased by $150,000 to $560,000 this year. The British Champions Day program will be held this year on Oct. 19, two weeks before the Breeders’ Cup is run on Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita.

◗ The European Pattern Committee announced on Tuesday changes to the list of group and listed races in Europe for 2013.

Aside from the promotion of the British Champions Day Fillies and Mares Stakes to a Group 1, two races have been downgraded from Group 2 to Group 3 – the Europa Meile at Munich, Germany, and the Royal Whip Stakes at The Curragh.

One race was promoted from a Group 3 to a Group 2 – the Kilboy Estate Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on turf at The Curragh.