- Horse Racing
Ascot to host Europe's richest handicap mile
Ascot will stage the richest handicap mile in European flat racing in October following the addition of the £250,000 Balmoral Handicap to the British Champions Day card.
The race will feature a maximum field of 30 runners and will only be open to horses that finish in the top six of 18 qualifying races, which all take place throughout the British flat racing season.
Three of the qualifiers will take place at Royal Ascot in June - the Royal Hunt Cup, the Britannia Handicap Stakes and the Buckingham Palace Stakes - and all of the 18 fall in the Champions Series, a 35-race series held in Britain which showcases the best of flat racing.
Champions Day contains over £3 million of prize money and is the richest raceday in the British horse racing calendar. The Balmoral Handicap will close the card on October 18 this year ,a day which also features the world's highest-rated race, the £1.3m Champions Stakes, and the £1m Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
"This record-breaking prize fund underpins the day's status as one of the most important race meetings in the world," chief executive of British Champions Series Rob Street said. "Overall prize money on British Champions Day has increased by 25% since the inaugural [event] in 2011."
Other qualifying races for the Balmoral, a title which has not been used for a race since 2003, include the Investec Mile Handicap at Epsom and the August Handicap Stakes at Goodwood.
The Makfi Suffolk Handicap is the first qualifying race of the 18, which takes place at Newmarket on May 3.