Lingfield Park Racecourse celebrated the 25th anniversary of All Weather Racing yesterday with the launch by Arena Racing Company of a second year of All-Weather Championships
Last year’s inaugural championship led to a 90 per cent increase in the number of 100+ rated horses running during the 2013-14 season, at the same time bringing an increase in prize money across every class of race. This year prize money for the second Finals Day, on Good Friday, April 3, 2015 will rise to £1.1 million.
Taking the initiative even further into the future will be a new category this year- a development of a three-year-old sprinting programme with £150,000 funding for 2014, alongside a move to eight furlong races as a springboard to the Guineas.
This year the All Weather Championships run from October 30 2014 to April 3 2015, consisting of all All-Weather races held at Lingfield Park, Southwell, Wolverhampton and the new Chelmsford City Racecourse. The finals will again be on Good Friday, April 2015.
Jim Allen, the ARC Racing Director said: “The major change is that we have a new All-Weather Championships category after extensive consultations. We no longer have an apprentice race on Finals Day and that has been replaced by the £150,000 Three-Year-Old Sprint over five furlongs.
New sponsor Unibet backs the Three-Year-Old Sprint category in addition to the Sprinter Championship. The three other betting partners and sponsors, Coral, Ladbrokes and 32Red, were involved in the very successful first All-Weather Championships season and continue their association.
Coral supports the Middle Distance Championship, while Ladbrokes sponsors the Mile Championship. 32Red backs three Championships categories – Three-Year-Old, Fillies & Mares and Marathon.
Horses who do not win a Fast-Track Qualifier must run a minimum of three times during the All-Weather Championships in Britain or, in a new initiative, one of the three runs can now take place on Meydan’s dirt surface in Dubai or on the All-Weather at Dundalk, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, Chantilly and Deauville.
Jockey George Baker – the tallest jockey in Flat racing at 6ft- has been appointed as the All Weather Ambassador. George (32) lives in Wiltshire and rode his first winner in 1999. This Group One winning rider had his first winner on the All-Weather aboard Beauchamp Magic at Wolverhampton on December 4, 1999 and has long been one of the leading jockeys on artificial surfaces.
George Baker said: “The most important thing last All-Weather season was the better class of horse running and, from my point of view, the boosted prize money.
“I will be doing a weekly blog and I would like to give Adam Kirby competition for the All-Weather Jockeys’ title. I will be riding as much as I can on the All-Weather but I have limited opportunities with my weight. Adam and I are both pretty heavy but Luke Morris is difficult to beat as he has plenty of rides.”
This year, four fast track qualifiers will be hosted abroad on synthetic surfaces at Dundalk in Ireland, Cagnes-sur-mer and Deauville in France. This is aimed at further increasing the profile of All-Weather Championships and encouraging international competition.
There will be seven championship categories: Three Year Old, Three Year Old Sprint (five furlongs); Sprint ( for Four Year Olds run over six furlongs); Mile ( over eight furlongs); Marathon ( with races ranging from 13 furlongs to 16 furlongs) where the Final will be run over 16 furlongs; Fillies and Mares ( over seven furlongs);Middle Distance ( on the day over ten furlongs, with qualifying races over ten to 12 furlongs).
The success of the Champships rests with the continued support of sponsors 32Red, Unibet, Ladbrokes and Coral, which have embraced the visionary initiative launched last year by Arena Racing Company.
A new betting partner, Unibet, backs the Three-Year-Old Sprint Championship plus the Sprint Championship. The three other betting partners, Coral, Ladbrokes and 32Red, were involved in the very successful first All-Weather Championships season and continue their association this time. Ed Nicholson, for Unibet, said: “Unibet is delighted to be a sponsor of the All-Weather Championships.
On Thursday, Rattling Jewel ridden by Liam Keniry, trained by Andrew Balding, sprang a 25-1 shock when winning the 32Red On The App Store/Irish EBF Maiden Stakes in fine style for owner Mick Mariscotti.