Newmarket Future Champions Festival: Race List & Meeting Info

Galloping Racehorse

Newmarket is certainly the place to be for racing fans as summer turns to autumn each year. Hot on the heels of the Cambridgeshire meeting, the headquarters of the flat racing game lays on another two days of top-class action, with the latest edition of the Future Champions meeting.

As the title of this meeting would imply, there’s no shortage of top class juvenile action on show here, and a chance for a number of the most highly regarded two year olds in training to really show what they are made of, ahead of a possible assault on the Classics next season.

It’s not all about the youngsters though, with plenty of variety on offer across the 14 races on show, including no fewer than nine Group class events, and one of the biggest staying handicaps of the season in the 2m2f marathon that is the Cesarewitch.


Day One Races - Autumn Ladies Day

RaceGradeLengthPrize MoneyAges
Cornwallis Stakes Group 3 5f £60,000 2 Years Old
Oh So Sharp Stakes Group 3 7f £60,000 2 Year Old Fillies
Godolphin Awards Challenge Stakes Group 2 7f £120,000 3 Years Old +
bet365 Fillies' Mile Group 1 1m £567,500 2 Year Old Fillies
Old Rowley Cup Class 2 1m4f £120,000 3 Years Old
Godolphin Maiden Fillies' Stakes Class 3 7f £10,000 2 Year Old Fillies
Dubai Pride Stakes Group 3 1m2f £60,000 3 Year Old + Fillies & Mares

Cornwallis Stakes

Group 3, 5f

Inaugurated in 1946, the Cornwallis Stakes is a Group 3 race for horses aged two. Run over five furlongs, the weight is nine stone and one pound, though fillies are given a three pound allowance. Horses that have won Group 1 or Group 2 race in the past receive a five pound penalty, whilst Group 3 race winners take a penalty of three pounds.

Established at Ascot, the race was contested over six furlongs and the first race was won by Golden Hackle. In 1948 the race was extended to a mile before being cut to five furlongs in 1957. It was transferred to Newmarket in 2014 in order to become part of Future Champions Day, shifting from early October to the middle of the month.

The Cornwallis Stakes has been a Group 3 level offering ever since the current system of grading races was introduced to the sport in 1971. Obviously no horse has ever won it more than once, but Joe Mercer, Lester Piggott, Martin Dwyer and Richard Kingscote have all won it three times as jockeys. Noel Murless also has the same number of wins as a trainer.

Oh So Sharp Stakes

Group 3, 7f

The Oh So Sharp Stakes is also run over the Rowley Mile and lasts for seven furlongs. It’s open to two-year-old fillies and has a weight of nine stone, though there are five pound punishments for winners of Group 1 and Group 2 races or a three pound punishment for Group 3 winners. It’s a Group 3 race itself and the purse in 2018 was £60,000.

You would be forgiven for thinking that the race has a strange name initially but it was given in honour of Oh So Sharp, the 1985 fillies’ Triple Crown winner that was trained at Newmarket. Established in 1985, it became a Listed race in 1993 and a Group 3 offering in 2007. The race became part of the Future Champions Festival in 2015.

Godolphin Awards Challenge Stakes

Group 2, 7f

The major difference between the Oh So Sharp Stakes and the Challenge Stakes is the horses that are allowed to enter the two races, given that they’re both based on the Rowley Mile and last for seven furlongs. Whilst the former is open to youthful fillies, the Challenge Stakes welcomes horses of any gender that are three-years-old and over. There’s a bit of jiggery pokery in play when it comes to the weight situation, which is as follows:

  • Three-year-olds: 9 stone 1 pound
  • Four-year-olds and over: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • 3 pound allowance for fillies and mares
  • 5 pound penalty for Group 1 winners
  • 3 pound penalty for Group 2 winners

The purse is also a difference between the two races, with the one at play in 2018 being double for the Challenge Stakes compared to the Oh So Sharp Stakes at £120,000. This is also the oldest of the three races mentioned here, having been inaugurated in 1878 under the title of the First Great Challenge Stakes.

When the current race grades were introduced this was a Group 3 offering, earning Group 2 status in 1987, which remains the case today. Having originally been a race for horses aged two and over and occurring over six furlongs, it was extended to seven in 1977 and two-year-olds were no longer invited to take part in 1985. It became part of Future Champions Day in 2011.

bet365 Fillies' Mile

Group 1, 1m

A race for fillies that takes place over a mile, as the name suggests, this one is a Group 1 race open to horses aged two. It is raced on the famous Rowley Mile at Newmarket, which is a straight track. The weight here is nine stone exactly, with the prize pot in 2018 creeping to the £500,000 mark.

Inaugurated in 1973 and originally held at Ascot, it has enjoyed numerous different sponsorships over the years. It achieved Group 3 status in 1975 and was moved up to Group 2 eleven years later. It became a Group 1 offering in 1990 and between 2008 and 2012 it was part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge. It moved to Newmarket permanently in 2011 and was part of Future Champions Day in 2014 before shifting to the Friday the following year.

Old Rowley Cup

Class 2, 1m4f

This Class 2 Heritage Handicap is run over one mile and four furlongs and is for horses aged three. A popular race, you can expect large fields for the Old Rowley Cup, with the handicapper doing their best to ensure that horses carry weight that reflects their ability.

Godolphin Maiden Fillies' Stakes

Class 3, 7f

Run in association with Godolphin, the race is, as the name suggests, limited to female horses that haven’t won at this level before. They can’t be older than two years of age and will need to complete the seven furlong course if they hope to win. It’s a Plus 10 race, meaning that eligible winners will receive £10,000 in addition to the standard prize money.

Dubai Pride Stakes

Group 3, 1m2f

A Group 3 race that is open to mares and fillies aged three and over, the Darley Pride Stakes takes place over one mile and two furlongs. First run in 1998, it was known as the Severals Stakes up until 2013. It was a Listed race until it was upgraded to its current level in 2019. No horse has won it more times than Chain Of Daisies, who was victorious in 2015 and 2017.

If the Pride Stakes seems like a name you recognise from elsewhere then you’d be forgiven for your confusion. A fillies’ and mares’ race run at Ascot and called the Princess Royal Stakes was renamed as there Pride Stakes when it moved to Newmarket, only to return to Ascot and become the British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes.

When it comes to jockeys, you don’t need to look any further than Frankie Dettori if you want to know who is the most successful. The diminutive Italian had won it six times prior to 2020. Four of those wins were under the trainer Barry Hills, who was the most successful trainer in the race’s history until Saeed bin Suroor trained five winners.


Day Two Races - Future Champions Day

RaceGradeLengthPrize MoneyAges
Dubai Nursery Handicap Stakes Class 2 7f £20,000 2 Years Old
Zetland Stakes Group 3 1m2f £60,000 2 Years Old
Dubai Autumn Stakes Group 3 1m £60,000 2 Years Old
Darley Dewhurst Stakes Group 1 7f £500,000 2 Year Old Colts & Fillies
Cesarewitch Stakes Class 2 2m2f £350,000 3 Years Old +
EBF Boadicea Fillies' Stakes Listed 6f £40,000 3 Year Old Fillies & Mares
Darley Stakes Group 3 1m1f £60,000 3 Years Old +

Dubai Nursery Handicap Stakes

Class 2, 7f

A race limited to two-year-olds, the Dubai Nursery Handicap is run over seven furlongs and promises in excess of £12,000 to the winner. Its handicap nature means that horses have to run with a certain weight that is assigned to them by the handicapper. If the Going is Soft then the race will take about a minute and twenty seconds or so.

Zetland Stakes

Group 3, 1m2f

The day usually gets underway with a running of the Zetland Stakes, which is a Listed flat race for two-year-olds. It’s run over one mile and two furlongs and has a noteworthy set of instructions when it comes to the weights:

  • Weight: 9 stone 2 pounds
  • 5 pound allowance for fillies
  • 5 pound penalty for Group 1 and Group 2 race winners
  • 3 pound penalty for Group 3 race winners
  • 2 pound penalty for Listed race winners

When the race was first established it was a Listed, but it dropped down to ungraded in 2007. It was then promoted back to being a Listed event in 2015 and has remained there since. Having previously been placed in the final race meeting of the year at Newmarket the race was moved to the Future Champions Festival in the same year it became a Listed race once more.

Dubai Autumn Stakes

Group 3, 1m

Originally held at Ascot when it was inaugurated in 1987, the Autumn Stakes moved to Newmarket in 2011 as part of the newly created Future Champions Day. Ironically, it didn’t get off to the best of starts when its inaugural run was abandoned because the course was waterlogged. Horses that do well in this race often go on to take part in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

The Autumn Stakes is run on the straight Rowley Mile and lasts for the full mile off that section of the Newmarket Course. It’s only for two-year-olds and, as with many of the other races that take place over the Future Champions Festival, it’s got some weight information you’ll want to know about:

  • Weight: 9 stone 1 pound
  • 3 pound allowance for fillies
  • 5 pound penalty for Group 1 and Group 2 race winners
  • 3 pound penalty for Group 3 race winners

Darley Dewhurst Stakes

Group 1, 7f

One of the oldest races to take place on Future Champions Day, the Dewhurst Stakes is also considered by many to be the most prestigious. It’s a Group 1 race that was created in 1875 by Thomas Gee under the title of the Dewhurst Plate. It was named in honour of the Dewhurst Stud that Gee owned at Wadhurst and it gained respect almost immediately when the first four winners of the race later went on to win one of the Classics.

The race spent a year as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge in 2011, meaning that winners were automatically given a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at the race meeting in America, but it was removed from the list in 2012. Originally part of Champions’ Day, the race was moved to become part of Future Champions Day in 2011. As suggested, winners of this race often go on to be competitive in the Classics. Churchill, for example, won the race in 2016 and went on to be victorious in the 2,000 Guineas the following year.

The race is run over seven furlongs on the Rowley Mile and is open to colts and fillies aged two. It is the most prestige race for juveniles in Britain and has a weight of nine stone one pound, with a three pound allowance for fillies. In 2018 the purse was £500,000 and more than £280,000 of that went to the winner.

Cesarewitch Stakes

Class 2, 2m2f

Open to horses aged three and over, the Cesarewitch Handicap is another of the most respected races that takes place on Future Champions Day. Run over a distance of two miles and two furlongs, the last section of the race sees competitors run onto the Rowley Mile. This is one of the few handicap races that take place during Future Champions Day, so there’s no weight restrictions as everything is decided by the handicapper.

The name might seem odd at first, but it was given in honour of Tsesarevich Alexander, with Cesarewitch being an Anglicised version of Tsesarevich. The man who would later become Tsar Alexander II donated £300 to the Jockey Club, resulting in them naming this race after him. Inaugurated in 1839, it was created at the same time as its ‘Autumn Double’ partner the Cambridgeshire. At first this race took place before the Cambridgeshire but nowadays happens a fortnight after it.

The race’s place in the calendar has actually shifted around a fair bit, having once been staged during Champions Day. It was moved to Future Champions Day when the event was created in 2011 but was then separated from it three years later. It returned be part of the Future Champions Festival when that started running the following year.

EBF Boadicea Fillies' Stakes

Listed, 6f

The Boadicea Fillies' Stakes was created in 1999 and is, as the name suggests, a race for fillies and mares. It takes place over six furlongs and is for horses aged three and up. It is a Listed race at the time of writing and Honesty Fair is the only horse to win it more than once.

The other race to take place on Future Champions Day is the Nursery Handicap, which is a Class 2 offering that runs over seven furlongs.

Darley Stakes

Group 3, 1m1f

The Darley Stakes is a race run over one mile and one furlong for horses aged three and up. As with many races run during the Festival, there’s weight information for you to be aware of:

  • Weight for three-year-olds: 8 stone 13 pounds
  • Weight for four-year-olds and over: 9 stone 3 pounds
  • Fillies and mares get a 3 pound allowance
  • Horses that have won Group 1 races get a 7 pound penalty
  • Horses that have won Group 2 races get a 5 pound penalty
  • Horses that have won Group 3 races get a 3 pound penalty

The Darley Stakes was established in 1987 but didn’t actually get its first running until the following year, with high winds causing structural damage to the course in 1987. It was a Listed race until it was given Group 3 status in 2003. Previously part of the Champions’ Meeting at Newmarket, it was moved to Future Champions Day when it was created in 2011.


About the Newmarket Future Champions Festival

Cesarewitch Course at Newmarket

Not every race meeting tells you exactly what you need to know about it in its title, with the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup being two of the most famous horse race events in the world that give you no clue what will actually happen during them. When it comes to Newmarket Future Champions Day, however, you’re being given all of the information that you need in the title of the meeting. It takes place at Newmarket and involves a series of races for younger horses that will do well in the future.

In actual fact, the headline of ‘Future Champions Day’ is slightly misleading, given that it comes in the middle of what has been called ‘Future Champions Festival’ and is based over two days in October each year. The Festival was launched in 2015 and came amidst a general revamp of the way the racing calendar for two-year-olds works in autumn. The major flat races were redistributed between Ascot and Newmarket in order to allow the former to create Champions Day, which you can read about elsewhere on this site, and the latter to have their own day of racing for younger horses.

Races Received A Shake Up

For a time, some of the most prestigious flat races in the calendar struggled to find their place, with the creation of Champions Day meaning that races were initially re-jigged in an unhelpful way. At one point, for example, races took place at Newmarket on one day of the weekend and at Ascot on the other; a scenario that wasn’t ideal for the horses, trainers and jockeys.

Races such as the Middle Park Stakes were initially run on Future Champions Day because it was the best place for them, even though they didn’t really make sense there. The formalisation of the weekend saw that race return to its original place at the Cambridgeshire Festival in September, meaning that participants got a fortnight off between it and Future Champions Day. Instead, eight races take place on the Friday, which is Ladies Day, with a further seven occurring on the Saturday.