Dubai: The new QIPCO British Champions Series, a groundbreaking initiative that aims to broaden the appeal of British horseracing in the country and around the world, has received the full backing of the Dubai-owned Godolphin stable.
Taking its cue from sports that have successfully increased attendance, revenues, sponsorship and media support through effective branding, the ambitious Series, sponsored by Qatar Investment and Projects Development Holding Company, will launch on Saturday with the 2,000 Guineas meeting at Newmarket.
The series will comprise 35 races staged at 10 of the UK's leading racecourses. Estimated to offer £13 million (Dh78.6m) in prize money, it will also embrace Britain's key racing festivals before culminating in the £3 million British Champions' Day, the richest fixture in British racing history.
Voicing Godolphin's view of the scheme, with a long- term aim of elevating the status of the Breeders' Cup and Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe meetings, racing manager Simon Crisford said: "Godolphin is very keen to support the QIPCO British Champions Series, we are right behind the concept.
Sport of change
"Obviously, racing has changed so much in the last 20 years in as much as the summer festivals always work very well in England, but when you get to September and onwards it becomes very much an overseas concept.
"A lot of our horses are campaigned overseas simply because the races aren't here. But with the new champions meeting at Ascot we will definitely very much target the races."
Crisford was drawing attention to international meetings like Hong Kong, and the Dubai International Racing Carnival.
"Britain is a great export market for bloodstock overseas, such as Xtension winning in Hong Kong on Monday," said Crisford.
"Britain has been losing these horses overseas for the last 10 to 15 years.
"Owners just cannot keep nice colts that aren't quite the very best. But I think with this series, and particularly with the big champions meeting at Ascot, there will be a real incentive there for owners to retain their best bloodstock."
The pre-event press conference was also attended by legendary trainers Henry Cecil and John Gosden, jockey Jamie Spencer, Shaikh Fahad Bin Khalifa Al Thani from the sponsors, and Rod Street, from Racing for Change.
Frankie Dettori, who will act as an ambassador for the 35-race series, was delighted with his new role.
"This is a fantastic development for my sport," he said. "Linking together all the best races in Britain is going to create a real buzz and bring new fans to horse racing.
Best in the world
"British Flat racing is the best in the world and I'm sure this will help encourage fans of other sports to take an interest in ours."
Cecil, a 10-time Champion trainer in Britain, has also shown his support for the Series and stressed that it has thrown British racing a lifeline.
"We clearly have got the best racehorses in the world and it's terribly important that we have races which fit," he said. "I think with the sponsorship, which is so important and welcome, we can keep our heads above water."