All-Weather Championships Background
Prior to 2013 there was no racing held on Good Friday. But seven years ago, that all changed with the introduction of the All-Weather Championships. The series was introduced and from then on, racing on the six synthetic tracks in the UK was pointed towards Finals Day, held on that Friday Bank Holiday at Easter time.
The crowning glory for the series is held at Lingfield, with £1 million in prize money up for grabs, making it the richest race day on the all-weather and one of the most valuable in the UK.
Since its introduction back in 2013, it’s fair to say that the Championships has been an undeniable success. From the Finals Day winners alone there have been notable Group 2 and 3 winners, as well as Group 1 scorer Tryster go on to bigger things.
The Championship Categories
Like the British Champion Series, the All-Weather Championships are divided up into six distinct categories, separating horses by distance, sex and age.
The series is split into the following sub-categories:
- 3 Year-olds
- Fillies and Mares
- Middle Distance
Each category is represented by a race on Finals Day. The seventh race on the card is for Apprentice jockeys only, and is run over 7f, and is open to horses, regardless of age or sex, who meet the qualifying criteria.
Qualifying For Finals Day
Competition for All-Weather Finals Day spots begins way back in October. Spots are awarded in the final fields based on the Official Rating held by those eligible to run.
To be eligible, a horse must have run at least three times on the all-weather in the UK, Ireland or France between October 22nd and the 6-day entry stage for Finals Day.
Of those horses with enough starts, the horses with the highest BHA Rating will bag a place in the starting stalls.
The places in the valuable races on Good Friday aren’t all reserved for those rated highest though. A number of Fast-Track Qualifiers will hand horses a chance to earn a starting berth by winning one of the four designated races in each category.
These races are held throughout the qualifying period, at various tracks around the UK, France and Ireland.
Notable Winners & Trainers
Certain training operations and jockeys have done particularly well in the All-Weather Championships since its introduction.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin have been named as winning-most owner in five of the six All Weather Championship seasons, with over 250 wins during the campaign period since it’s inauguration.
That success during the season doesn’t necessarily convey into triumph on Finals Day though. The ‘Boys In Blue’ have only claimed four of the 63 Good Friday races, with three of them coming on the same day back in 2015.
French-trained horses are of particular note on Finals Day, with Gallic raiders taking the top-prize in four races in the last two years.
As far as individual horse success goes though, only one animal can be described as a multiple winner on All-Weather Finals Day, and in fact, he’s almost a triple winner.
Richard Fahey’s Alben Star took the Sprint Championships in 2014, as well as in 2016. In between the gallant gelding got so close when finishing second to Pretend in the intervening year.
Although he was a mainstay on Finals Day, the veteran sprinter never actually won one of the designated Fast-Track Qualifiers en route to the Good Friday showpiece. His handler instead, choosing to get Alben Star to peak on the big day.
Betting On All-Weather Finals Day
Like other major racing events, high interest on the action on course almost always ensures that there is good liquidity in the Tote pools on All-Weather Finals Day.
Large dividends are possible to land, with both single Win or Place bets as well as some of the more exotic markets showing very healthy results in the six years that the Championships have been running.
Don't discount the outsiders
While their are often horses who turn in excellent performances on the all-weather day-in day-out, it can often pay to consider some of the lesser-fancied runners on Good Friday.
Every year since it's inception there has been a horse triumph on Finals Day that has paid a double-figure dividend on the Tote, with five of the six showing returns north of £20.
|2014||Sprint Championships||Alben Star||£25.10|
|2016||Mile Championships||Captain Joy||£13.50|
|2017||Apprentice Handicap||Forceful Appeal||£36.20|
|2018||Mile Championships||Lucky Team||£48.60|
Of the big priced winners, two of those listed above possibly should have been found by the betting public that day.
Goring had finished 3rd in the Mile Championships on 2018 Finals Day, finishing a head behind the 109-rated Second Thoughts. So, when he lined up in the Apprentice race 12 months later off a handicap mark of 97, his back-form looked pretty solid.
Tracey Collins' Captain Joy was another horse who had placed the previous year before going on to land a race at Lingfield. He was just 1/2 length behind the winner Grey Mirage and a neck behind Group 3 winner Sovereign Debt in 2015. Just three runs later, including a win on his last prep run prior to the Easter meeting, he was sent off at nearly twice the odds before making amends and taking the contest.
Tote Exacta shines on Finals Day
Tote exotic bets are generally ways in which bettors can show a large profit from a relatively small outlay.
The Tote Exacta in particular, is one that All-Weather Finals Day caters particularly well for.
Finding a winner on Finals Day may seem like a tricky task in itself, but backing the first two home in the correct order can yield even greater results.
Since the Championships were introduced in 24, the Tote Exacta has returned more than the SP Straight Forecast in 35 of the 42 races on Finals Day.
Some of those Tote Exactas have paid particular well with a handful showing a return of over £200 to a £1 stake.
The 2020 All-Weather Championship
Competition for places on Finals Day this year are heating up nicely. All but one of the races on Good Friday have at least two horses confirmed to get a run as a result of winning a Fast-Track Qualifier.
No previous winners have yet guaranteed their spot in the line-up at Lingfield, but as the days count down towards Good Friday, expect competition on the all-weather to heat up in the coming weeks.
The crowing of the champions this year takes place on Friday April 10th.