Finals day: all you need to know about Friday's Easter extravaganza
Just five years ago, shortly after Bobs Worth won the Gold Cup, there was no racing on Good Friday, just like there always hadn't been. The time taken for All-Weather Championships Finals Day to assimilate into the racing culture is impressive by any measure.
There are of course a million reasons why that might be the case. The endeavour has been taken seriously, in word and in deed, and raised the profile of all-weather racing by going beyond the seven-figure prize fund on Good Friday.
It all comes down to this, though. In terms of money and prestige, the championships are back-loaded. The winner of the opening apprentice handicap will get £31,125, the next five winners three times that and the horse that takes the closing Easter Classic £124,500. That's exactly twice what Addeybb's connections received for winning the Lincoln on Saturday.
When it comes to the format, finals day is best compared not with Cheltenham, but with British Champions Day at the other end of the turf season. There are six championship races (compared with Ascot's five) to go with the betting puzzle of the apprentice handicap, common to both cards.
That handicap kicks off the finals day card, over 7f at 1.30. It is a 0-100 and is the only race not restricted to horses that have run three times in the all-weather season.
After that frantic opening, the card takes on a more familiar structure. Championship events take place in divisions titled marathon (2m, 2.00), fillies and mares (7f, 2.30), sprint (6f, 3.05), three-year-old (6f, 3.40), mile (1m, 4.10) and finally the Easter Classic (1m2f, 4.40). Sponsorship is split between SunBets, 32Red and Betway.
How to qualify
Fields for the six championship races are decided unlike any other races in Britain. Only 12 may run in the mile, sprint and three-year-old contest and 14 in the marathon, fillies and mares and Easter Classic.
As with many other races, BHA ratings enter as a qualifying factor, but a secondary one behind fast-track qualifiers, places given to horse that win nominated qualifiers through the winter.
Each division has four fast-track qualifiers, but in several of the divisions horses have doubled up, leaving more qualifying spots available to runners without a fast-track pass.
Should two horses be tied on the same mark at the bottom, countback will be used (greater number of wins during the season, then seconds and so on down to fourth) to determine which entrant gets the stall and which is offered a reserve spot.
The big players
There is true unfinished business in the Easter Classic, where the first two from the Winter Derby both go out with a point to prove.
Mr Owen crossed the line first over this course and distance back in February, but was demoted to second after a stewards' inquiry, which handed victory to Master The World.
The rematch is one to savour, with what history this race has on the side of Master The World. The last three winners of the Winter Derby have gone on to land the Easter Classic.
What other prizes will be given out?
Luke Morris will be champion jockey again, that's for sure. Morris had that title wrapped up by Tuesday. The jockeys' title, like all the other championships, is decided by numbers of successes rather than prize money, so calculators can be safely put away.
The exception to this is the all-weather horse of the year, which is on prize money and will more than likely be taken by whichever horse wins the Easter Classic.
Champion owner (Godolphin) and sire (Kodiac) are effectively decided, so the two most competitive divisions will be champion trainer and winningmost horse. Archie Watson and Mick Appleby are nip and tuck for the former, while the running battle between Captain Lars and Spare Parts for the latter has been the story of the last few weeks.
Where to watch
ITV4 will broadcast all races bar the apprentice handicap, which will be exclusively on At The Races. ATR will also show the six championship heats.
Enjoy the daily Racing Post newspaper in full with our digital newspaper. Available to download on any device from 9pm every evening, giving you tomorrow’s paper the night before - exclusive to Members' Club Ultimate. Join here