YORK Racecourse is set to host a record number of Group races in 2018 after seeing its programme refreshed to include a brand-new contest and a six-figure increase in prize money.

The Knavesmire will now play host to 19 of the prestigious races, with the John Smith's Silver Cup also receiving an upgrade to Group Three status.

Its prize money will also increase to £65,000, following the decision made during the annual meeting of the European Pattern Committee, and will be held on Saturday, July 14. The race will be held over the same staying distance of one and three-quarter miles.

The British Horseracing Authority, after consideration of various bids, has also awarded a brand-new race in the form of the Brontë Cup, to be held on Saturday, May 26 with a prize of £90,000.

Exclusively for mares and fillies, this race has been named in honour of three of Yorkshire's literary heroines and is part of an ongoing strategy to encourage the staying division of thoroughbreds with a race distance set at one and three-quarter miles.

To better balance the wider race programme, the Listed Grand Cup will switch to provide the Pattern action on Saturday, June 16 (Macmillan Charity Raceday), while the mile-long Listed Ganton Stakes will move 24 hours earlier in the calendar to become a highlight of Friday, June 15.

Taken together, it means that York will stage 30 Pattern calibre Races in 2018.

Commenting on this achievement, William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course said: “This is a further signposting of the ongoing investment in our race programme and confirmation of the quality of racing at York.

"It is great news for race-goers and connections alike, as even more top thoroughbreds will be heading to the Knavesmire to compete for prize money that has increased by £100,000 for the two new races alone.

“It means we have been able to frame our 2018 race programme to offer a Pattern race on 16 of our 18 race days.

“The upgrade of the John Smith’s Silver Cup is a reflection of the strength of a race that has featured many well-known stayers in the past, with Royal winners (Free Agent) as well as Ebor & Melbourne Cup contenders.”