A PRESTIGIOUS horse race held at York Racecourse will be worth £1 million in 2019 after it was announced that an online bookmaker will be the new sponsors of the contest.

The Ebor is already the richest Flat handicap in Britain, but its prize money will hit £1 million next year.

Sky Bet and York Racecourse have agreed a five-year partnership with prize money for this year’s renewal of the Sky Bet Ebor increasing by 75 per cent to £500,000 and then leaping to £1 million the following year.

First run in 1843, the Sky Bet Ebor is an integral part of both the stayers’ programme and heritage of Yorkshire racing.

The race conditions for the Sky Bet Ebor will be amended to make it a race for four-year-olds and upwards.

Sky Bet is also to sponsor the Melrose Stakes, regarded as being the “three-year-old’s Ebor”, with its prize money to increase by 20 per cent to £125,000 – and the £170,000 Great Voltigeur Stakes, which are both run at York Racecourse.

The Leeds-based firm, now in its 15th year sponsoring at the track, will continue to back the Listed City of York Stakes - Britain’s richest Group Three with a prize fund of £180,000 - and will add the £100,000 Group Three Strensall Stakes and two competitive handicaps on August 25 to its portfolio.

In total, four races on this day alone will benefit from increased prize money, as part of the new sponsorship agreement.

There are plans in development to make Sky Bet Ebor Day even more of a red-letter day in the sporting calendar, and more announcements will follow later in the year.

Announcing the plans for the Sky Bet Ebor, York Racecourse chairman, Lord Grimthorpe said: “The Ebor has been a feature of my racing life and I think these plans set it on a firm course for future success. This great race encapsulates ambition, innovation and heritage, all of which are very much a part of York’s ethos.”

Speaking on behalf of the sponsor, chief executive of Sky Bet, Richard Flint added: “Sky Bet is proud to be based in Yorkshire and we are excited to be part of the future of such a great race. Today is only the first phase of an exciting partnership which I hope will mean fantastic things for Yorkshire racing.”