YORK Racecourse’s total prize money for 2014 has broken through the £6 million barrier for the first time - with the Group 1 Juddmonte International setting a new mark as the richest race ever staged on Knavesmire.
Racecourse chiefs have announced a third consecutive year of growth in prize money - this time an increase of more than £200,000.
It means the total pot has risen by more than 20 per cent since 2011, with the benefits going not only to Group 1 contests but also handicaps for horses building their careers.
The Juddmonte, the showpiece of the opening day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival on Wednesday, August 20, will now see the top middle-distance horses in the world compete for a record £800,000 - up by £50,000 on 2013 - as well as the chance to join a roll of honour that includes the mighty Frankel.
On every day of the Ebor Festival - from August 20 to Saturday, August 23 - the feature contest will receive a boost, which, when combined with other increases, will see the cumulative value of the 25 races post another record at £3,365,000.
This represents an increase of nearly £150,000 with all contests offering £30,000 or more to connections.
Probably the most famous race at York, the Betfred Ebor itself, will be cemented as the richest Flat handicap in Europe by the addition of £15,000 to the prize pot, making it now worth £265,000.
The race to receive the joint biggest boost will be the City of York Stakes. This highly-regarded Listed contest will double its prize money to £100,000 – making it the 17th race at York with a six-figure prize fund.
Previous winners of this seven-furlong contest include subsequent Group 1 winner Gordon Lord Byron and Yorkshire dynamo Quito. It will also move within the Festival programme to become a further highlight of Friday, August 22. The Group 3 Strensall Stakes will switch to provide a quality middle-distance race on Ebor Saturday.
A further Listed race to receive a boost - as well as a poignant name change - is the Galtres, which will be called The EBF and Sir Henry Cecil Memorial Galtres Stakes, benefiting from both the ongoing backing of the European Breeders’ Fund and support from the family of the late champion trainer.
This one mile four furlongs race for fillies, now offering £60,000, will be part of the course’s tribute to the legendary master of Warren Place who sent out Eva Luna (1996), Upend (1988) and Startino (1986) to win this event.
Meanwhile, overall prize money at the Dante Festival - on May 14 to 16 - will reach a landmark of seven figures for the first time, as more than half of the races see their prize value increased.
The Tattersalls Musidora will offer £80,000 - up £5,000 - to connections of the leading filly seeking to follow the six champions who have tasted subsequent Classic glory.
York’s 17-day season begins on Wednesday, May 14 with the Dante Festival. There are 115 races scheduled in all for 2014. Aside from the self-funded evening fixture which is treated differently in terms of levy funding, all remaining racedays have a prize fund of at least £100,000, a feature race worth at least £25,000 and no contest worth less than £10,000.
Chairman of York Racecourse, Lord Grimthorpe, said: “I am delighted York is able to continue to invest in prize money and develop the race programme on Knavesmire.
“The aim is to continue to attract the very best horses to York and to stage competitive, compelling racing action.
“As with all of these investments, they are only possible because of the unstinting support of the owners, sponsors, partners, racegoers, punters and our commercial operations.
“I believe this investment, coupled with continuing improvements in facilities at York, means we can look forward to the season ahead with great enthusiasm.”