Enjoy it on video: National Hunt season opens at Wetherby

PRIZE money will be pegged at existing levels at Wetherby during the 2010-11 season that begins today, despite drastic funding cuts that have been imposed by the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

This includes backing from race sponsors and means that the Yorkshire course's richest race, the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase on October 30, will be worth 100,000 for the second successive year.

Chief executive Jonjo Sanderson said: "Every racecourse is having to deal with reductions in prize-money funding from the Levy Board.

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"Despite these reductions, Wetherby and its sponsors have been able to maintain the contribution to the prize money pool, which will amount to 25 per cent of the total offered during the season.

"This has helped soften the blow from Levy Board reductions and, in relation to the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase in particular, both the racecourse and bet365 were keen to maintain prize money at 100,000 after reaching that landmark figure last year."

Last year's renewal was won by the Evan Williams-trained Deep Purple, who went on to capture the Grade Two Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon and finish fourth in the Grade One Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

As well as the Charlie Hall Chase meeting, Wetherby intends to stage four further fixtures on Saturdays.

It also has two Sunday meetings – including Boxing Day.

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Today's opening fixture marks the 20th annual charity raceday in aid of Spinal Research, with 365,000 raised over the past two decades.

JOHN Gosden has been forced to pull the plug on Arctic Cosmos's bid for the Canadian International at Woodbine on Saturday and the St Leger winner will not run again this season.

The three-year-old suffered a cannon bone injury when working on Saturday morning and was taken to the Equine Hospital in Newmarket for surgery.

The operation was successful and connections have every hope he will return to action next season.

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"The operation went well and by all accounts he is recovering well at the hospital and, hopefully, he'll be back again next year," said Gosden's jockey, William Buick, who rode him at Doncaster.

"It was a very important win for me because it was my first English Group One and my first Classic.

"He's always been a good horse but he was very immature and babyish but he was third in the Gordon Stakes and that made a man of him at Goodwood.

"He was ready for the step up in the Leger and he won it well."