Newmarket Racecourses to stage £2million+ Dubai Future Champions Festival

Newmarket Racecourses to stage £2million+ Dubai Future Champions Festival

  • BHA sanctions proposal by Newmarket Racecourses to enhance autumn programme with Friday-Saturday festival
  • Move boosts prize money by more than £500,000, including Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst and Group 1 Dubai Fillies’ Mile now worth £500,000 each

Thursday 12th February 2015 

Newmarket Racecourses today announced its request to create a £2million+ two-day Dubai Future Champions Festival at the Rowley Mile from 2015 onwards has been sanctioned by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). This will run on Friday 9th October 2015 featuring the £500,000 Group 1 Dubai Fillies' Mile and Saturday 10th October 2015 with the £500,000 Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes and £250,000 Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap. Channel 4 has agreed to broadcast races live on both days.

The further support of headline partner Dubai is allowing Jockey Club Racecourses to boost prize money by more than £500,000 through the new Dubai Future Champions Festival, compared to the combination of the 2014 Betfred Cesarewitch Day and Dubai Future Champions Day. This is despite the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes moving off the card to create a two-week gap with the Dubai Dewhurst.

Newmarket Racecourses made proposals to the BHA as to how its two-year-old autumn programme could be improved, acting on industry feedback, particularly from horsemen and aware that this was a priority for the BHA. This was carried out in in line with The Jockey Club’s ongoing commitment to act for the long-term good of British racing.

The move was made possible thanks to the agreement of several parties – including the governing body, Channel 4 and the Horserace Betting Levy Board – and the removal of Pattern issues between the spacing of the 7f Dubai Dewhurst Stakes and the Group 1 Prix du Jean-Luc Lagardère, after the European Pattern Committee (EPC) agreed to France’s application to extend their contest to a mile.

Today’s news follows the previously announced approval by the EPC to run the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes earlier, as part of The Cambridgeshire Meeting on 26th September in 2015. That achieves the BHA and Newmarket’s ambition to create a two-week gap between the race and the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes from 2015 onwards after previously being run on the same day following the fixture and race moves that went into creating QIPCO British Champions Day.

Dubai Future Champions Festival

The new Dubai Future Champions Festival will be staged over Friday 9th and Saturday 10th October 2015 at the Rowley Mile, with the Group 1 feature races showcasing fillies on the Friday and colts on the Saturday. The new festival will offer more than £2 million in prize money with Saturday’s Dubai Dewhurst Stakes to be run for £500,000 – up from £400,000 in 2014* – and Friday’s Dubai Fillies’ Mile also offering a purse of £500,000 – up from £200,000 in 2014*. This makes both races the most valuable Group 1 two-year-old contests in Europe. The Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap will continue to be run for £250,000.

Accompanying the Dubai Fillies’ Mile in a seven-race card on the Friday provisionally will be the Group 2 Dubai Challenge Stakes (£150,000), the Dubai Old Rowley Cup (Heritage Handicap) (£140,000), the Group 3 Dubai Cornwallis Stakes (£80,000), the Group 3 Dubai Oh So Sharp Stakes (£80,000), the Listed Dubai Pride Stakes (£50,000) and the Dubai Fillies Maiden Stakes (£25,000).

The provisional plan for joining the Dubai Dewhurst and Betfred Cesarewitch on an eight-race card on the Saturday will be the Group 3 Darley Stakes (£80,000), the Group 3 Dubai Autumn Stakes (£80,000), the Dubai EBF Fillies Nursery Handicap (£60,000), the Listed Dubai Zetland Stakes (£50,000) and the Listed Dubai Boadicea Stakes (£50,000), followed by the second running of The Varsity Race between Oxford and Cambridge universities to end racing.

In addition to world-class racing, the Dubai Future Champions Festival will also focus on the local community, fashion and education. The Friday will be promoted as Newmarket Racecourses’ Autumn Ladies Day, while the Spa at Bedford Lodge Hotel in Newmarket will become the Official Fashion Partner for the two-day festival. The Dubai Education week that proved so successful in 2014 will be repeated and culminate with racing on the Friday. Both days of the festival will offer free entry to students, with an after-racing party held on the Saturday.

In the 2015 Fixture List, Newmarket Racecourses was scheduled to race at the Rowley Mile on Saturday 10th October, with the Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap the feature race. The new Friday 9th October slot replaces the Friday 16th October raceday where Newmarket was due to stage Dubai Future Champions Day. Total prize money at Newmarket Racecourses in 2015 is scheduled to exceed £10.5 million across 39 racedays.

Amy Starkey, East Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, who runs Newmarket Racecourses, said: “The Dubai Future Champions Festival brings together world-class two-year-old races with premier older age contests including two high value handicaps, with more than £2 million on offer. It is all about the development and celebration of the Thoroughbred, fantastic racing for the public and participants, and enhances the autumn and two-year-old race programme in the best long-term interests of our sport, which is always our motive as part of The Jockey Club.

“I should like to thank the BHA and in particular Ruth Quinn for their support, alongside a range of other stakeholders including Channel 4, the Levy Board, Tattersalls and Betfred. Most importantly we owe much gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for investing in this event and his continued commitment to Newmarket and the UK horse racing industry. His passion and support for this initiative has been central to the creation of the weekend.”

Bloodstock adviser to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, John Ferguson, said: “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed does an enormous amount to support British horse racing and the creation of the Dubai Future Champions Festival is yet another example of Sheikh Mohammed’s continued commitment to Newmarket and the horse racing industry at large.

“The new format builds on the success of last year’s Dubai Future Champions Day and creates a stunning weekend for racegoers to enjoy the highest calibre sporting action and the very best of British Flat racing.”

Ruth Quinn, Director of Racing for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), said: “There are some especially pleasing developments being announced today, in particular the significant uplift in the value of both the Dewhurst and the Fillies’ Mile, the reverting of the Dewhurst to a Saturday and the splitting of the Dewhurst and Middle Park Stakes. It is pleasing that our representations to the EPC have allowed for these outcomes.”

Newmarket trainer, William Haggas, said: “This is terrific news, not only for the entire racing community in Newmarket but also for our sport in general. Horsemen and the racing industry will be delighted with the creation of the new Dubai Future Champions Festival, its significantly increased prize money and position in the racing calendar. This festival helps reaffirm Newmarket’s unique place at the heart of horse racing in Britain. These are two fabulous days of the highest quality of Flat racing, held between Book 1 and Book 2 of Tattersalls Sales. Well done to Newmarket Racecourses and Dubai. Huge thanks, once again to Sheikh Mohammed who continues to stoically support our industry”

Newmarket trainer, John Gosden, said: “Newmarket Racecourse have experienced a lot of changes to its racing programme over the last four years and it’s now extremely pleasing that they have been able, in partnership with Dubai, to put together two fantastic days of racing which suits both the racing and sales calendars. This is a programme that will create a solid foundation which can be built upon for the future.”

Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) President, Rachel Hood, said: “Racehorse owners will be delighted with this exciting development and we are particularly grateful to Dubai for their valuable input and investment. Newmarket Racecourses is to be commended on the work they have put into creating this autumn programme.  The prize-money fund for the Dubai Future Champions Festival is most welcome and The Rowley Mile deserves to be supported by owners and trainers.”

Process of the moves

Offering a full account of how the changes announced today have come about, Amy Starkey explained:

“Having run the Middle Park and the Dewhurst on the same Dubai Future Champions Day card as part of the BHA and EPC approved reshuffle that created QIPCO British Champions Day, it was clear Horsemen felt it in the best interests of the development of the Thoroughbred for these two great Group 1 6f and 7f contests to be apart.

“We have a track record of listening to and acting on feedback from Horsemen at Jockey Club Racecourses, motivated by what is in the best long-term interests of the sport. So in 2014, along with the BHA, representations were made to stage the Middle Park in its new slot on 26 September 2015 to create the gap with the Dewhurst, which fitted in with a wider review of the two-year-old Pattern in Europe. We were delighted the BHA secured EPC approval at their most recent meeting, as I stated in the BHA’s recent announcement.

“At the same time, the EPC sanctioned France's request to extend the distance of the Prix du Jean-Luc Lagardère to a mile contest. Given this change, the BHA secured agreement from the EPC to move the Dubai Dewhurst to its previous slot of a week earlier if we wanted. This gave us an immediate opportunity to review what was in the best interests of the Thoroughbred and sport as a whole. Newmarket Racecourses and the BHA have worked together swiftly since the EPC meeting to consider all the available options and agree the best route forward. Moving a fixture of this nature is extremely complex as it involves several parties – you can’t just decide to do it.

“There were lots of positives to take from Dubai Future Champions Day’s first year on a Friday last year, but I am confident the new format can be stronger and this will be the settled home for the fixture from now on. The Dewhurst had to be moved for 2014 to meet commitments required by the EPC as part of the creation of QIPCO British Champions Day in 2011. That has become the world's top raceday on ratings and given Britain a worthy premier Flat finale, which makes us very proud because The Jockey Club has the biggest shareholding in the fixture.

"I am happy we have a strong race programme at Newmarket to stage, promote and keep building on. Newmarket Racecourses is offering more than £10.5 million in prize money this year and will stage more Group races than anywhere else in Britain. Last year we were privileged to welcome many of the best racehorses to thrill our crowds and we increased attendances at the Rowley Mile by 28 percent in the process. That is a good platform from which to improve in 2015."

Notes to Editors

*Programmed prize funds prior to any supplementary entries

A provisional programme for the Dubai Future Champions Festival is below:

Friday 9th October 2015

1.      5f 2y Group 3 Dubai Cornwallis Stakes £80,000

2.      7f 2y Group 3 Dubai Oh So Sharp Stakes £80,000

3.      7f 3y+ Group 2 Dubai Challenge Stakes £150,000

4.      8f 2y Group 1 Dubai Fillies Mile Stakes £500,000

5.      12f 3y Dubai Old Rowley Cup (Heritage Handicap) £140,000

6.      7f 2y Dubai Fillies Maiden Stakes £25,000

7.      10f 3y+ Listed Dubai Pride Stakes £50,000

Friday total prize money: £1,025,000

Saturday 10th October 2015

1.      7f 2y EBF Fillies Nursery Handicap £60,000

2.      8f 2y Group 3 Dubai Autumn Stakes £80,000

3.      7f 2y Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes £500,000

4.      18f 3y+ Betfred Cesarewitch Heritage Handicap £250,000

5.      10f 2y Listed Dubai Zetland Stakes £50,000

6.      6f 3y+ Listed Dubai Boadicea Stakes £50,000

7.      9f 3y+ Group 3 Darley Stakes £80,000

8.      The Bearstead Perpetual Challenge Trophy (The Varsity Race)

Saturday total prize money: £1,070,000


Contact: Lucinda McClure 01638 675502 or  

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