Newmarket Racecourses yesterday 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).
The new event will span Friday 9th October, featuring the £500,000 Group 1 Dubai Fillies' Mile; and Saturday 10th October, with the £500,000 Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes and £250,000 Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap. Both days will be covered live on Channel 4.
The further support of main sponsor, Dubai, has allowed 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.
The revised weekend is as a direct consequence of acting on industry feedback, particularly from horsemen and aware that this was a priority for the BHA, regarding how the late season programme could be improved.
The move was made possible thanks to the agreement of several parties – including the BHA, 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 the latter 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. That now means a two-week gap between the Middle Park and the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes from 2015 onwards, having previously been run on the same day in support of 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 will provisionally 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 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.
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.”
Newmarket trainer, John Gosden, added: “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.”