Bumper race programme and £1.4m additional investment in prize funds announced at York Racecourse
York Racecourse is about to embark on a packed six week period of action, with a total of 69 races to be contested over nine racedays for a total of £3m – approximately half of which is being invested by York Racecourse and its long-standing sponsors. This injection of more than £1.4m above agreed industry levels means that every race will be boosted in prize money.
Although racing resumed “behind closed doors” at the start of June, York has waited until Thursday 9 July to get its season underway, starting with a unique and high quality card including the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante, Group 3 Tattersalls Musidora and Listed European Breeders’ Fund Marygate Stakes. These feature contests will all be covered by ITV Racing with each of the bumper nine contests run above industry agreed values so helping owners, trainers, jockeys and racing staff, so, in turn, the wider racing economy. The Dante and Musidora usually play leading roles in signposting the favourites for the Epsom Classics, but this most unusual of years will see these races staged after the Investec Derby and Oaks. What remains the same is that the runners look set to be high quality so will have every prospect of starring in other big races, for example, the Juddmonte International or Darley Yorkshire Oaks, back on the Knavesmire in August.
Whilst York Racecourse is grateful for the assistance of the Horseracing Betting Levy Board (HBLB), in centrally funding the core prize money, the backing of York’s sponsors, who have supported the venue for a cumulative period of well over 250 years between them, is hugely appreciated both by York Racecourse and the wider racing community, during a challenging time for all. While prize funds are understandably well down on previous years, the fact remains that a compelling and high quality race programme has been assembled. It includes 21 Pattern races, four heritage handicaps, opportunities for younger horses, rising stars, sprinters and stayers alike, set in a framework whereby every race is at least £500 richer than minimum values.
As an independent course, York has long taken pride in its race programme and investing in prize money to attract the best jockeys and horses to the Knavesmire. There are undoubted financial challenges this year, as over 80% of prior year annual revenues for York Racecourse flowed from the presence of a gathering, either on a raceday or as part of our extensive non raceday events programme, none of whom have been permitted at the venue since mid-March. However, revenues from off course betting partners, media rights, partnerships, sponsors as well as supportive Annual Badgeholders and Boxholders, has enabled the course to set out an attractive race programme in the circumstances. These purses support the owners, the racing industry and the many people who rely on a buoyant rural economy.
At the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, there will be eight races offering six figure prize money and a total prize fund of £2,270,500. Three new Class 2 handicaps worth £30,000 each have been added to the race programme, one on each of the weekday cards to complete a seven race programme of top quality sport for all days of the four day flagship festival.
The generous support of long-term sponsors will help see the Group 1 Juddmonte International staged at £275,000 and the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks, Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe and Sky Bet Ebor all set to carry a purse of £250,000 as the feature races of each day.
Leading Group 2 races, the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack, Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup and Sky Bet City of York Stakes all have £100,000 purses; with a pair of Group 2 races backed by Sky Bet, the Great Voltigeur and Lowther both offering £75,000.
Unstinting support from the European Breeders’ Fund sees a record five contests receiving their backing, headlined by the £35,000 Listed Galtres Stakes but also including two of the new contests.
The feature races in July will include a pair of the Group 2 races, the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (9 July) and Sky Bet York Stakes (25 July) both to be run at £55,000. A trio of Group 3 contests – the Tattersalls Musidora (9 July), John Smith’s Silver Cup (18 July) and William Hill Summer Stakes (19 July) will each offer £40,000 to connections. The highly rated and well known Listed John Smith’s City Walls Stakes (18 July) and the new to York, William Hill King Charles II Stakes (19 July), will have prize money topped up to £27,000. The famous John Smith’s Cup will have its value boosted by 50% above industry agreed values to £60,000 on Saturday 18 July.
Race sponsors and York Racecourse will ensure all races include a best turned out horse award for racing staff. All the major contests will feature, free to air, on ITV Racing, with the course working with its terrestrial broadcast partner to schedule five races each day live from the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival for the first time. Every race will continue to be shown live on Racing TV.
Speaking about the initiative, York Racecourse Chairman, Lord Grimthorpe, said, “We are delighted to be back racing at York, albeit initially behind closed doors. Despite challenging circumstances for all, we have tried to put our best foot forward with an incredibly exciting race programme and an investment in prize money well above industry agreed levels. We are hugely appreciative and grateful for the wonderful support of our sponsors, annual badgeholders and partners and all who make York Racecourse so special. While we look forward to the day we can welcome the return of spectators and supporters to York Racecourse, in the meantime I hope that people will follow and enjoy the sport on their televisions and mobile devices.”
Commenting on the news, Racehorse Owners Association Chief Executive, Charlie Liverton, said “York have once again put together a fantastic and attractive programme with their customary investment in prize money. I would like to thank York and their sponsors for showing such brilliant commitment to the sport’s participants in such a challenging period. York have shown what can be done when racecourses and participants work together and align interests. For owners, York will be providing an exceptional on course experience, under the guidelines, with access to the Owners’ Club around the parade ring, on course food services and specific owner debriefing areas for trainers and jockeys. The York team have worked incredibly hard to make it a programme not to miss.”