2014 poised to be a cracker at York Racecourse
Updated 1:04pm Wednesday 2nd April 2014 in Sport
INCREASED prize money, frozen admission prices and a contest remembering a titan of the sport - just another new season at York Racecourse.
Knavesmire chiefs are getting ready to welcome back the world's equine Flat stars when their new campaign gets under way with the Dante Festival between May 14 and 16.
More than £6 million in prize money will be up for grabs during 17 race days - an increase of more than £200,000 on last year - with the flagship Juddmonte International now worth £800,000.
"We want to invest in the sport and invest in prize money so the best horses continue to run here for the racing public at York," said racecourse head of marketing James Brennan. "We want to invest in the facilities for people coming here and we want to invest in the experience of going racing.
"The easiest way to see any of those three is in prize money - up again this year and through the £6 million mark for the 2014 season.
"That's gone up by about £200,000 following what was already a record investment in 2013. That can only be good news.
"The Dante Festival, for the first time, can boast seven figures in prize money. It will be the first £1 million renewal across the three-days of May 14, 15 and 16.
"It means the Ebor Festival will go to a new record of in excess of £3.3 million. It means every afternoon will continue to have a minimum of £100,000 in prize money with £25,000 for the feature race and a floor of £10,000 on 16 of the 17 days.
"The feature races on all three days of the Ebor Festival have all had a boost. The Sky Bet City of York Stakes has doubled its prize money to become the 17th contest here that will have six figures in prize money."
Entrance prices will remain the same at the Dante Festival and for those who pre-book for multiple days admission at the Ebor Festival.
Brennan added: "Prize money does need funding. We are grateful for the support of our sponsors but gate money does play its part and there is a balance to be struck in terms of how many people will come and what you can charge.
"We want people to come racing so, where we can, we have frozen the prices. There has been a prize freeze at the Dante Festival. The multi-day day admission at the Ebor Festival has been frozen.
"The prize has been frozen at The Press Family Raceday and the final Saturday in October. For some of the others, we hope people will accept that a pound on the door is a manageable increase when you can see the sorts of things we are doing."
The Galtres Stakes will now bear the name of Sir Henry Cecil after the racecourse moved to commemorate the trainer of Frankel, and many other legendary horses, following his death last year.
Brennan explained: "He was a hugely gifted trainer and hugely loved by the crowds here on Knavesmire. Anybody who was here on what turned out to be his final day on the racecourse, when Frankel - the horse he will be forever associated with - won the Juddmonte International won't forget it.
"The three cheers, spontaneously called for by a member of the public and the endorsement they gave, rang round the parade ring on that memorable August afternoon shows what Sir Henry means to York.
"It's lovely that we learned from the family and Arthur Boyd-Rochfort, his brother, what York meant to Sir Henry. He was very keen to do something as a lasting tribute to his brother.
"With the support of the EBF, the Sir Henry Cecil EBF Galtres Stakes will be run on Ladies' Day at the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
"Henry would have approved of the fact that prize money has increased for the race and it's a contest he won on three occasions during his career. It's a fitting race for a man who was hugely talented with fillies and with colts."
York Racecourse 2014 fixtures: May 14, May 15 (Dante Stakes), May 16, May 31; June 13, June 14; July 11, July 12 (55th John Smith’s Cup), July 25, July 26; August 20 (Juddmonte International), August 21 (Darley Yorkshire Oaks), August 22 (Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes), August 23 (Betfred Ebor Day); September 7; October 10, October 11.
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