9 October 2013 – Sky Sports
A rebranded all-weather championship will be launched this winter with a £1million card on Good Friday providing a headline-grabbing finale to the competition.
Arena Racing Company (ARC), in conjunction with the British Horseracing Authority, is preparing to introduce a new race programme with 52 new class two and three races planned, with all races run counting as qualifiers towards the finals card on April 18.
The all-weather championships will run from October 26 to April 18, with meetings at ARC’s three tracks of Lingfield, Wolverhampton and Southwell as well as the Jockey Club-owned Kempton.
Horses can qualify for the bumper Bank Holiday card either by claiming a “win and you are in” race or by being the top rated horses over each championship distance.
They will then have the opportunity to run in one of six new races created for the final day of the campaign, with total prize of £1m up for grabs.
Jim Allen, racing director at ARC, said: “Developing the championships has been a combined effort and we are very grateful to our partners, Ladbrokes, Coral, 32Red and Bookmakers.co.uk for joining us in this new initiative for British all-weather racing. At The Races will also be supporting the entire series with extensive coverage of the all-weather championships.”
Tony Kelly, managing director at ARC, said: “It has been an exciting and challenging few months and I am delighted we have been able to launch the new all-weather championships for the 2013/2014 winter season.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our four sponsorship partners without whom we couldn’t have achieved this. I would also like to thank our colleagues at the BHA and at the HBLB who not only embraced the idea, but worked with us to redesign the race programme.
“We also undertook an extensive consultation process with the owners, trainers and jockeys associations as well as the Horsemen’s Group, we are grateful for their interest and support and we look forward to seeing them enjoying the enhanced benefits throughout the winter.
“We hope that this championship heralds a new dawn for all-weather racing in the UK and we are delighted to be leading the way in making that happen.”
There will be six categories in the new championship with the three-year-old division encompassing every two-year-old race run in 2013 and every three-year-old race run in 2014 on the all-weather tracks over the qualifying period. The final will be run over seven furlongs.
The sprint category will be open to four-year-olds and older with the final over six furlongs while the fillies and mares division including every race restricted the fairer sex over the winter, culminating in a seven-furlong heat.
The marathon title will be contested over distances ranging from 13 to 16 furlongs, with the latter distance the test in the final, while the mile category is self-explanatory.
Races from 10 to 12 furlongs will make up the middle distance category with the final over 11 furlongs boasting a prize fund of £200,000 which makes it the richest all-weather event in the UK. All the others races will have a value of £150,000.