The first all-weather horse racing fixture in Britain took place, on the original 10-furlong, Equitrack course at Lingfield Park in Surrey, in 1989. However, All-Weather Championships Finals Day is a much more recent addition to the horse racing programme, having first been staged, on the newly resurfaced Polytrack course at Lingfield, on Good Friday, 2014. That was the first time that horse racing had been staged on Good Friday in Britain but, after some initial opposition to the idea, All-Weather Championships Finals Day quickly became established as part of the British racing calendar.
All-weather racing contributes more than a fifth of the British horse racing fixture and, in fact, the All-Weather Championships can be credited with regenerating the all-weather programme. The All-Weather Championships has, in effect, created a schedule – akin to the British Champions Series, sponsored by Qipco – that builds, through a qualifying period, to a Good Friday finale in each of six race categories.
In the case of the All-Weather Championships, the qualifying period is between late October and Good Friday and to qualify for any of the Championship Final races, a horse must run at least three times on a synthetic surface, at Chelmsford City, Kempton Park, Lingfield Park, Newcastle, Southwell or Wolverhampton and obtain a sufficiently high official rating, or win a specific “Fast Track Qualifier”. Four Fast Track Qualifers, including at Dundalk, Chantilly, Deauville and Cagnes-Sur-Mer, are scheduled for each Championship Final and victory in any of them qualifies the winner to free, guaranteed entry to a specific race on All-Weather Championships Finals Day.
The Three-Year-Old All-Weather Colts, Fillies & Geldings Championship Final is run over 6 furlongs and worth £150,00 in total prize money, making in the most valuable race of its kind in the country. Similar comments apply to the Sprint Championship Final, which is run over 6 furlongs and 1 yard and open to horses aged four years and upwards, the Mile Championship Final, the Marathon Championship Final, run over 1 mile 7 furlongs and 169 yards and open to horses aged four years and upwards and the Fillies’ & Mares’ Championship final, run over 7 furlongs and 1 yard and open to fillies and mares aged four years and upwards. The Middle Distance Championship Final, run over 1 mile 2 furlongs, is the most valuable all-weather race run anywhere in Britain.