YORK Racecourse chief executive William Derby said he was “delighted” to be investing in a record prize fund for the flagship Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

As the Knavesmire track announced an overall increase of nine per cent for 2013, Derby revealed the combined value of the 25 races over the four feature days in August – this year staged from Wednesday, August 21 to Saturday, August 24 – will exceed £3.2 million.

That’s an increase of £270,000, with all contests worth at least £30,000.

It will also see alterations to the race programme, with the Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Cup moving to the Friday, and the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes now staged on Ebor Saturday.

Derby said: “We are delighted to be investing in a record prize fund for our flagship Festival. This year we are switching our two famous Group 2 contests to help balance the race programme – the two-mile Weatherbys Lonsdale Cup joins our Group 1 sprint the Coolmore Nunthorpe on the Friday card while the six-furlong Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack joins the one-mile six-furlong Betfred Ebor and Melrose on the Saturday.”

On Thursday, the Group 2 Jaguar Cars Lowther Stakes goes up £40,000 to £150,000 – an increase which makes it the richest race of its type for juvenile fillies. On the same Ladies’ Day card, the Darley Yorkshire Oaks has been raised to £325,000.

A key contest in the fillies and mares category of the British Champions Series, it is now the richest all age fillies Group 1 race of the season.

Derby continued: “Twenty-one of our 25 races that make up the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival have been increased in value which means, when combined with last year’s increases, all races having been increased over the last two years.

“The quality and quantity of horses running at the Ebor Festival continues to increase and we are delighted to make this investment to attract the very best horses and jockeys to York.”

Lord Grimthorpe, York Racecourse chairman, added: “The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival is the highlight of our season with many wonderful horses choosing to run with us.

“I’m delighted the support of racegoers, sponsors, partners, owners and supporters has helped us to invest in record prize money.

“The Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes is one of my personal favourites and I hope connections will respond to the significant boost in prize money to create a cracking renewal in front of a bumper Ebor Saturday crowd.”