The brilliant Dancing Rain was the impressive winner of the inaugural QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes which has now been upgraded to Group 1 status. Image copyright of racingfotos.com.
The upgrading of the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes to Group 1 status this year creates a third Group 1 race on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 19 October.
The race doubles in value to £500,000, while the QIPCO British Champions Sprint (Group 2) rises in value from £250,000 to £350,000, making the day worth a record £3.4m in 2013, up from £3.05m in its first two years.
The two sparkling highlights of the card are the £1.3m QIPCO Champion Stakes (Group 1), the highest-rated race in the world last year when the mighty Frankel defeated the 2011 winner Cirrus des Aigles, and the £1m Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by QIPCO (Group 1), which Frankel won in 2011 and Excelebration last year.
The inaugural running of the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes in 2011 was won by the brilliant Dancing Rain, previously victorious in the Investec Oaks (Group 1) and the German Oaks (Group 1).
Last year's race was won by the top class Irish raider Sapphire, with Investec Oaks runner-up Shirocco Star in second and Dancing Rain, who put up a bold bid to defend her crown, in third.
The aspiration is for the QIPCO British Champions Sprint (Group 2) and QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 3) to achieve Group 1 status as well and hopes are high that this will not be too long in coming.
Brian Kavanagh, Chairman of the European Pattern Committee (EPC), which decides on upgrades and downgrades for Group races, said:
“The major European racing authorities are now actively working together to create a co-ordinated and compelling end of season Group 1 programme in Europe.
"The addition of a third Group 1 race to British Champions Day is a positive development and due recognition of the success of the event in its first two years. The EPC supports Britain’s ambition to stage five Group 1 races on this card."