The finest staying chasers racing today will have the chance to net their connections £1 million over-and-above Grade 1 prize money after Jockey Club Racecourses today announced the return for the 2016/17 Jumps season of the bonus associated with winning The Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown.
The UK's leading racecourse group, which stages 85% of Grade 1 Jump racing in Britain and is governed by Royal Charter to reinvest all its profits back into the sport, is offering the bonus to the connections of any horse that wins its Chase Triple Crown, consisting of three elite Grade 1 races: the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November, the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of The Festival next March.
Jockey Club Racecourses offered the bonus initially as a one-off for the 2015/16 Jumps season in memory of the late Kauto Star – the only horse to have won the Chase Triple Crown since the inception of the Betfair Chase in 2005. Cue Card's tilt at that challenge helped to set the Jumps season alight, winning the first two contests before falling three fences from home when disputing the lead in a Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup won by Don Cossack.
It was decided to repeat the initiative for the 2016/17 Jumps season following consultation with a range of horsemen, the extra interest in Jump racing the bonus generated and a practical option to insure the bonus being available.
Should a horse achieve the remarkable feat, the bonus would be awarded to connections as follows: 65% to the winning owners, 15% to the trainer, 10% to stable staff at the winning yard, and 10% to the jockey (split a third per race if different jockeys riding).
Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said:
“We'd love a special horse to capture the public's imagination and take their place in racing folklore by winning The Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown. It was fantastic to hear people label last season’s bonus contender, Cue Card, as 'the People's Horse' and we look forward to the challenge of going one better being considered for the finest staying chasers racing today. It would be tremendous for our sport.”
On the financing of the bonus, Fisher added:
“It was pretty well understood last year that we insured the bonus and it's important to stress we have done the same again for a modest sum out of the marketing budgets we use to promote the three Grade 1 contests involved. Jockey Club Racecourses has already committed to contribute the largest sum in the history of our sport to prize money this year, £20.9 million. That is the affordable maximum thanks to us continuing to find ways to grow our business to support the sport. Whatever we make we put back into British Racing.”
Joe Tizzard, representing the stable that saddles previous Chase Triple Crown bonus contender, Cue Card, and the likes of Grade 1-winning staying hurdler, Thistlecrack, who his trainer has announced will be going over fences this season, said:
"This is brilliant news. Having got so close to winning the Chase Triple Crown bonus with Cue Card last season, that’s what he’ll be aiming at this time."
10-time Champion Jumps trainer, Paul Nicholls, who saddled Kauto Star to become the only winner of the three races that make up The Jockey Club's Chase Triple Crown in the same season, said:
"Kauto Star winning the Betfair Chase, King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season really cemented his legend among the public. You've got to be a special horse but he showed it could be done and it's great for Jump Racing that The Jockey Club is putting up this bonus challenge."
Willie Mullins, Ireland's 11-time Champion Jumps trainer, said:
"This is a serious prize that deserves serious consideration this season. Well done to Jockey Club Racecourses for putting it up for us to have a go at. It's also something that hopefully will spark the public interest too."
Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National-winning trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, said:
"Well done to Jockey Club Racecourses for bringing the bonus back for this season. It's important for Jump Racing to have these big prizes to aim at and we saw all the interest Cue Card's effort brought for the sport last year."