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Page last updated at 23:06 GMT, Thursday, 23 September 2010 00:06 UK

British Champions' Series launched to broaden appeal

Ascot Racecourse
Champions' Day at Ascot will provide the climax to the new series

A new initiative to broaden the appeal of British horse racing will be launched in 2011.

The British Champions' Series will feature 35 Flat races held at 10 racecourses across the UK and ending with British Champions' Day at Ascot.

It is designed to broaden the appeal of the sport and attract new audiences.

British Champions' Series chief executive Karl Oliver said: "We need to give our sport a major new platform to compete for the public's attention."

The new series will encompass British racing's key festivals, including the Guineas Festival at Newmarket, the Epsom Derby Festival, Royal Ascot, the Newmarket July Festival, Glorious Goodwood, the Ebor Festival at York and the Doncaster St Leger.

There will be five categories of races in the championship, named to make them easier to follow for a wider audience: Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance, and Fillies and Mares.

The total prize fund will be in excess of £13m, with British Champions' Day at Ascot offering £3m in prize money alone to become the UK's richest ever day of racing.

Champions' Day will include the Champion Stakes which switches from Newmarket and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes which moves back from its usual September slot in the calendar.

Representatives from different areas of the sport put together proposals to modernise the image of the sport under the banner Racing for Change.

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Flat racing jockey Frankie Dettori said: "This is one of the toughest periods that British horse racing will ever have to face. Our racing is the best in the world and Ascot is a world class venue at any level so it is fantastic that the industry is doing everything to help itself at this time.

"I congratulate everyone involved and look forward to racing at a world class event at my favourite track. This will equal the Melbourne Cup, the Breeders Cup and the World Cup in Dubai who have all led the way over the years with high class events."

The series will launch on Saturday 30 April 2011 with the 2,000 Guineas on Newmarket's Rowley Course and climax at the British Champions' Day at Ascot on Saturday 15 October 2011.

The terrestrial broadcast rights to all the races in the series are currently contracted to the BBC and Channel 4. Discussions are under way with broadcasters for the rights to televise British Champions' Day.

Oliver added: "Britain's richest ever day of racing is the opportunity to attract the very best British and overseas horses to compete at our top international racecourse. It will be the autumn climax British racing needs.

"By also introducing a series framework, we can highlight and use the best races throughout the Flat season to engage a much wider audience to our sport. In time, British racing can be proud that it backed British Champions' Series and British Champions' Day."



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see also
Horse racing set for image revamp
05 Jan 10 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing


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