Season 9 of the All-Weather Championships gets underway at Newcastle on Tuesday, October 19, with a number of changes. Most notably, the feature event of the season, All-Weather Championships Finals Day, will move to Newcastle for the first time on Good Friday, April 15, 2022. All six All-Weather Championships Finals will be run at Newcastle alongside the established Coral Burradon Stakes, a Listed race for three-year-olds over a mile.
Since the inception of the All-Weather Championships in 2013, Finals Day, which offers over £1 million in prize money, has been hosted at Lingfield Park and established itself as a hugely popular fixture in the British Racing calendar. Newcastle’s Tapeta surface has proved equally popular with horsemen, racegoers and punters since its installation in 2016, and has welcomed equine superstars such as Enable and Stradivarius at the beginning of their illustrious careers. Newcastle hosted the first ever Group 1 contest run on an artificial surface in Britain, when Kameko won the rearranged Vertem Futurity Trophy in 2019.
On Good Friday 2022, Lingfield Park will host the new ‘All-Weather Championships Vase’ fixture, worth a total of £395,000 in prize money. The fixture will feature six Championship Vase races, mirroring the category structure used on Finals Day. Designed to cater for horses that would not normally be rated high enough to run on Finals Day, the fixture will offer a significant end of season target for connections on what is a popular day. The current requirement for horses to undertake three runs in order to qualify to run on Finals Day will also apply to the Vase fixture.
In addition to the relocation of the Finals Day fixture, there will be a number of other changes ahead of this season of the All-Weather Championships. A new Fast-Track Qualifier in the Middle Distance category, offering free qualification for the Betway Easter Classic, will take place at Newcastle in mid-January. There will also be a new race for fillies and mares, the Coral Winter Oaks, at Lingfield Park at the end of January.
To accommodate horses that may wish to run at the Saudi Cup meeting, the All-Weather Championships rules will be updated to allow a maximum ofone qualifying run to take place on dirt in Saudi Arabia alongside the previous rule that allowed one qualifying run to take place on dirt in Dubai. Horses may still qualify for races at both Finals Day and the Vase fixture via three runs on an All-Weather surface in Britain, Ireland or France during the qualifying period.
ARC is delighted to welcome Coral and MansionBet as new partners for the Season 9 of the All-Weather Championships, joining Betway who continue their longstanding partnership. Coral will take over sponsorship of the Fillies & Mares and Three-Year-Old categories, with MansionBet sponsoring the Mile. Both operators will see their branding feature prominently across all four ARC All-Weather racecourses over the season, as well as having naming rights of all the races that take place within their category.
Mark Spincer, Managing Director of ARC’s Racing Division, said: “All-Weather Championships Finals Day has, over the years, become a mainstay of the Easter programme in Britain. As we saw prior to the disruption of the last two years, people want to come racing on Good Friday and we feel that Newcastle offers a real opportunity to develop the day even further. Equal to this is the popularity of the track and racing surface, as has been proved since the installation of the Tapeta in 2016. The six All-Weather Championships Finals alongside the Listed Coral Burradon Stakes will be a premier fixture befitting of the fantastic racing facilities that have been developed at Gosforth Park.
“We are confident that the new All-Weather Championships Vase fixture at Lingfield Park will be equally popular with racegoers and horsemen alike. There are plenty of owners and trainers who support the Championships throughout the winter, but who often don’t compete on Finals Day. We wanted to make sure that we could introduce a new flagship event to cater for this cohort of horses, as a real end of season target for their winter campaigns.
“We hope that these changes, along with the other smaller amendments to the Fast-Track Qualifier programme, will mean that Season 9 continues to provide everyone concerned with a fantastic competition to follow over the course of the winter months.”
Mick Appleby, five-time winner of the All-Weather Champion Trainer title, said: “I am really looking forward to Season 9 of the All-Weather Championships. We haven’t got all the team ready for the season yet as we will be picking up a fair few at the sales next week. We have quite a few horses who were around last season to run again. Hopefully, they can find a bit more improvement. We will give it a good bash [the title], but it gets more difficult every year.
“I am delighted that Finals Day is moving to Newcastle. For me, Newcastle is a Group One track and the best All-Weather track in the country. One horse of mine to follow this winter is United Front – I think he’s a real nice horse and he’ll be there on Finals Day hopefully.”
Trainer Richard Hughes said: “Logistically, switching the Finals Day to Newcastle won’t make any difference – if there is prize money up for grabs, we take them to France quite often. One thing for certain is that you will not be beaten by the draw at Newcastle. I always think the best horse wins at Newcastle because they always get a run and are not hemmed against a rail or anything like that.
“The Vase fixture is a good idea. It is very hard to get a horse rated 100, so to have a nice pot to aim at with a horse rated 85 can only be a good thing.”
Cabinet member for Development, Neighbourhoods and Transport at Newcastle City Council, Cllr Ged Bell, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Finals Day is moving to Newcastle. What it does show is that there is confidence in Newcastle. We have great sporting culture – not only with Newcastle United but with rugby league, rugby union, basketball – and now racing is lifting its profile with announcements such as this.”
Chad Yeomans of Betway said: “All of us at Betway are delighted with the progression and development of the All-Weather Championships. We believe that the championships will improve for this restructure and commend everyone at ARC for making it happen. It’s an exciting time of year as the new AWC season kicks off, and we look another exciting campaign.”
David Stephens of Coral said: “The All-Weather Championship is now firmly established as an important part of the racing calendar, rather than just being a filler when Jump racing is lost to the worst of the winter conditions, and we are delighted to once again be a title sponsor of the series.”
Dana Bocker, Head of Integrated Marketing at MansionBet, said: “We are delighted to become a partner of the All-Weather Championships. MansionBet is committed to supporting British Racing and will be sponsoring over 360 races in the UK in 2021, with this expected to increase further in 2022. The All-Weather Championships is crucial in our increased commitment to racing.”
For the first time in Season 9, the All-Weather Championships will also introduce a series of pony races for aspiring young jockeys. A series of four races for riders aged 14 and above in the 148cm series across Lingfield Park, Newcastle, Southwell and Wolverhampton will culminate with a Final at the All-Weather Championships Vase Fixture, on Good Friday 2022.
Chief Executive of the Pony Racing Authority, Clarissa Daly, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our more experienced riders. It will give them a chance to really hone their skills throughout the winter. We are so grateful to ARC for creating this new series and looking forward to seeing the young jockeys gaining this amazing experience.”
For more information on the All-Weather Championships, and to see the latest Leaderboards, please visit www.awchampionships.co.uk.