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Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Friday, 24 September 2010 12:02 UK

Newmarket director Stephen Wallis defends racing revamp

Champion Stakes 2009 at Newmarket
Tom Queally rode Twice Over to success in the 2009 Champion Stakes

Managing director of Newmarket racecourse Stephen Wallis says losing Champions' Day to Ascot is for the good of the sport.

The switch is part of a new £13m series set for British racing in 2011.

Wallis told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: "The reason we have done that is for the future funding of the sport.

"Horse racing does get a lot of sponsorship but has an inherent problem in that it is a series of regional events that last for a weekend."

As part of the move Newmarket's Champion Stakes, set for 16 October this year, will become part of British racing's richest day of the calendar at Ascot on 15 October 2011.

The Suffolk course will gain a new event called Future Champions' Day and will see the July Cup meeting, a summer highlight, culminating on a Saturday rather than a Friday.

"What we've done with creating the series that leads to the final is generate something that potentially will give sponsors five months of coverage," Wallis added.

"And we're talking big money that will end up as prize money."

The new programme has upset many traditionalists in the sport but leading Newmarket trainer John Gosden and top jockey Frankie Dettori have already backed the change.

Wallis insists something had to happen in order to attract the casual racing punter.

"The Newmarket board has responsibility first and foremost for Newmarket but we have a responsibility to the sport as well," he said.

"All the research shows British horse racing is a series of high point weekends, but they don't have a glue that gives the casual sports fan a reason to dip into the top quality of our sport."

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see also
Big revamp for new championship
24 Sep 10 |  Horse Racing
Horse racing set for image revamp
05 Jan 10 |  Horse Racing
Twice Over clinches Newmarket win
17 Oct 09 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing

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