York races prize-money back to pre-covid levels

RACING has received a boost with the news that prize-money for major races at York will return to the pre-covid levels of 2019.

Delighted: William Derby. Picture: Simon Hulme

All three Group One races at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival (Wednesday to Saturday August 18-21), as well as the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes (Thursday, May 13) are back to the levels of two years ago.

The Juddmonte International (Wednesday, August 18) will offer £1m to reflect its status as the highest ranked race in the world.

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The Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Thursday, August 19) 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, August 20), 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, May 13) will be run with a prize fund of £165,000. This leading Group 2 contest is the flagship race of the Dante Festival and has proved an important form pointer to the Derby, with 10 horses having completed the Dante/Derby double.

Prize money is three times the level that it was for the delayed Dante in July, 2020, when won by Thunderous for Mark Johnston.

The Middleham-based handler has Gear Up, already twice a winner on Knavesmire, entered in both the Dante and 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.

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.”