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York Racecourse is pleased to announce that all three Group One races at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival (Wednesday 18 to Saturday 21 August), as well as the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (Thursday13 May), will return to their pre covid prize money levels of 2019.

This means that the Juddmonte International (Wednesday 18 August) will offer £1 million once again, reflecting its status as the highest ranked race in the world, according to the independent Longines IFHA Committee.

The Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Thursday 19 August) will see the leading fillies and mares competing for a share of £400,000, for the race won last year by Love, Cartier three year old Filly of the Year.

The same £400,000 figure is available to the top-drawer sprinters in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes (Friday 20 August), a contest that Battaash, Cartier Sprinter of the Year 2020, has dominated in recent seasons. The updated race title acknowledges that Wootton Bassett is the latest superstar to join the Coolmore stallion roster at stud. Unbeaten as a two-year-old, local hero Wootten Bassett landed the Goffs Premier Yearling Sales Race at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival of 2010, before giving Malton-based trainer, Richard Fahey, his first Group One success that autumn.

The feature race of the Dante Festival, the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (Thursday 13 May) will be run at a prize fund of £165,000, a return to its pre-Covid prize money levels of 2019.  This leading Group 2 contest is the flagship race of the Dante Festival and has proved an important form pointer to the Cazoo Derby, with ten horses completing the Dante/Derby double.  This is three times the level that it was for the delayed Dante in July 2020, when won by Thunderous for Mark Johnston and Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.  The Middleham-based handler has Gear Up, already twice a winner on the Knavesmire, entered in both the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante and Cazoo Derby.  Gear Up is bidding to be the first northern trained winner of the Blue Riband since Dante himself, trained in the same North Yorkshire town, achieved the feat in 1945.

In making this prize money commitment, in what remains an uncertain climate, the York Race Committee and our longstanding race sponsors wanted to demonstrate a commitment to world-class racing on the Knavesmire.  Our hope is that these contests will be rewarded with the participation of top-quality horses, to produce compelling renewals for racing fans to enjoy.

It is hoped that further positive announcements will follow for other races at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival should crowds return in significant numbers, and the wider funding model of the sport choose to continue to support the Pattern races, which in turn drive international investment in the sport and the bloodstock industry.

The unstinting and longstanding support of race sponsors, Juddmonte, Darley, Coolmore and Malih Al Basti, as well as of so many other supporters of York Racecourse, is most greatly appreciated.

Commenting on the news, William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course said, “York Racecourse is proud of its record of investing in prize money to help sustain the wider racing industry and to attract the best horses to the Knavesmire.  This is a time when that strategy needed to be confirmed and we are pleased to be able to commit to returning these four feature contests to their pre Covid levels. The seven-figure investment in the Juddmonte International reflects its status as the Longines World’s Best Race. Clearly, the world is still in a difficult place and we will hugely miss the presence of spectators at the Dante Festival 2021.  However, we wanted to make a positive announcement that reflects what York believes is in the shared best interest of the sport that everyone involved with the Knavesmire loves.  The backing of our sponsors and supporters is deeply appreciated.  We are excited about the prospect of some fantastic racing in May and the return of owners at the Dante Festival.  Thereafter, we very much look forward to  the return of spectators to York as the summer unfolds.”