The Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million, won in sensational style by Stradivarius last year, will be back for 2019 - and its scope has been significantly extended for year two.
On his way to scooping the £1 million prize in 2018, Bjorn Nielsen’s son of Sea The Stars achieved something remarkable, shining a light on the merits of stayers with his courage, durability and will to win. From the outset, the key objectives for specialist insurance broker Weatherbys Hamilton have been to celebrate, support and promote the staying horse - an animal that has defined the Thoroughbred for the last 300 years.
Watch this video of the WH Million and the year of Stradivarius
The 2019 Million has been enhanced with the introduction of four qualifying races - in Dubai, Germany, France and Ireland - to supplement the four British qualifiers, which remain as last year.
This means the Million will be awarded to the connections of a horse that first wins one or more of eight elite staying races staged between March and May:
- Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (Meydan) – March 30
- Vintage Crop Stakes (Navan) – April 28
- Longines Sagaro Stakes (Ascot) – May 1
- Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes (Chester) – May 9
- Comer Group International Oleander-Rennen (Berlin-Hoppegarten) – May 12
- Yorkshire Cup (York) – May 17
- Matchbook Henry II Stakes (Sandown Park) – May 23
- Prix Vicomtesse Vigier (ParisLongchamp) – May 26
If one of these winners can then go on, as Stradivarius did last year, to win the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot (June 20), the Qatar Goodwood Cup at the Qatar Goodwood Festival (July 30) and the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival (August 23), its connections will win the £1 million prize.
As in 2018, the £1 million will be split between the connections of the successful horse, with 70 percent awarded to the owner and 30 percent divided equally between the trainer, stable staff, breeder and jockey.
The origins of Thoroughbred racing are founded on the stayer, with the original match races often taking place over extended distances. The legendary Eclipse (foaled in 1764), features in almost all the pedigrees of the modern Thoroughbred and he habitually raced at distances of three to four miles.
Despite the recent trend towards breeding more precocious horses for shorter distances, it is the stayers who remain for many the real Trojans of the turf. Their battles over nearly two miles or more have made magnificent spectacles and live long in the memory. Many feel that it is imperative for the health and diversity of the Thoroughbred that these bloodlines are perpetuated and cherished.
The races that comprise the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million have been won by horses whose names still resonate through their heroism, their toughness and the longevity of their careers.
Stradivarius’ achievements in 2018 entitle him to be mentioned in the same breath as Le Moss, Double Trigger, Sagaro, Ardross, Persian Punch and Yeats, to name but a few.
The finish of last year’s Gold Cup at Ascot when Stradivarius so memorably fought off the persistent challenges of Vazirabad and Torcedor up the home straight was one of the races of the meeting and embodied everything that is so special about stayers.
The introduction of the four international qualifying races is designed to promote even wider interest in the Million and stayers themselves, and the prospect of there being up to eight contenders in with a chance of embarking on the winning sequence come the Gold Cup at Ascot in June is to be savoured.
Weatherbys Hamilton is a broker that specialises in the insurance requirements of private clients. In addition to its dominant position in bloodstock, it is equally strong in the insurance of farms, estates and other high net worth property and is a dynamic force in all of these areas. At a time of growing anonymity in the insurance industry, it is its quality of service and the attention it devotes to its clients that increasingly differentiates Weatherbys Hamilton from its competitors.