What makes British Champions Day so special?

Horse racing is a sport steeped in history and fueled by tradition. Races date back hundreds of years, and the royal family have been attending meetings like Ascot for equally as long, with Queen Anne founding the Berkshire racecourse in 1711 and King Geoge IV leading the first Royal Procession in 1825.

To keep the sport fresh and the audience engaged, organisers are always looking for new incentives. One of the most successful ideas in recent memory has proven to be British Champions Day. The flat season finale was only inaugurated in 2011, but it has already become one of the most popular meetings in horse racing today — with the stands at Ascot packed with eager racegoers each October. 

As the 2023 renewal of British Champions Day rapidly approaches on October 21, let’s take a look at some of the key factors that make the card such a standout fixture. 

Ascot racecourse

We have briefly touched on Ascot already, but the season finale taking place at the iconic venue is certainly one of the main reasons why British Champions Day is such a hit. The Berkshire course is one of the most iconic in the country, if not the world, and it provides an experience like no other.

Each of Ascot’s enclosures provides a wide range of bars and eateries, and more importantly, spectacular views of the track — whether that be from the pristine lawns, the viewing steps, or the elevated balconies of the King Edward VII Enclosure. 

It’s truly a fitting backdrop for the culmination of the flat racing season.

The racing

Of course, the racing itself is one of the key reasons tens of thousands of racegoers descend on Ascot every October, and the British Champions Series have arguably produced the best racecard in the entirety of the country — in jumps and flat racing. 

That’s a big, bold statement when you consider the quality on display at the likes of the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot, but Champions Day crams four Group 1s, a Group 2, and a Heritage Handicap into one afternoon — combining for a total prize pot of over £4 million. It’s hard to top that.

It’s not just the prize money, there are also bragging rights at stake as a horse will be crowned the best in their respective division in each of the Champion Series’ five categories. With a wide variety of races, including a six-furlong sprint, middle distance, long distance, and fillies and mares contest, there’s something for everyone. 

The big names

Having such a quality product and huge prize pots attracts the biggest names in the sport, and seeing the iconic colours of racing’s biggest operations, the top trainers, and superstar jockeys going head-to-head, makes Champions Day a main attraction. 

Four-time Group 1 winner Paddington is a horse that racegoers will be excited to see this year, after the Aidan O’Brien three-year-old gained a mass following thanks to his impressive exploits this season, while the meeting marks the final Champions Day appearance for legendary jockey Frankie Dettori before he heads out to America. 

The crowning of champions

It’s not just the horses who are crowned the best in the country, as British Champions Day also sees the culmination of the Jockeys’ Championship. Defending champion William Buick leads by a comfortable margin at the time of writing and looks set to retain his title at Ascot. 

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John Day
John Day is a seasoned sports writer and brings a unique blend of insightful analysis and covers the stories that matter most to sports enthusiasts everywhere.

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