Jockey Club Racecourses today announced it will offer a £1 million bonus for winning its Chase Triple Crown in the 2017/18 Jumps season.
The cash prize will be awarded to connections of a horse winning the three elite Grade 1 races that make up the Chase Triple Crown at its courses: 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.
Paid over-and-above Grade 1 prize money, it was initially introduced as an incentive 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 Betfair Chase was first run in 2005.
The £1 million bonus then returned for last season and, based on demand, it will now be offered for a third successive season by Jockey Club Racecourses, 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.
Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card came agonisingly close to winning the bonus two seasons ago but, after winning the first two Grade 1 contests, fell just three fences from home when disputing the lead in a Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup eventually won by Don Cossack.
Following consultation with a range of horsemen and extra publicity for Jump racing as a result of the bonus being offered, the initiative returned for the 2016/17 Jumps season.
Cue Card was again successful in the Betfair Chase but with wins for Thistlecrack in the 32Red King George VI Chase and Sizing John in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup there was no bonus winner.
The seven figure sum would be split between connections, with 65% going 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 ride the horse.
Paul Fisher, Chief Executive of Jockey Club Racecourses, said:
“Since we introduced the bonus in 2015/16 it has really caught the public’s imagination. Cue Card coming so close two years ago helped grow the interest levels in not only these three races but Jumps racing across the board.
“Last year was exactly the same and for trainers like Jessica Harrington to be saying they are specifically targeting the Chase Triple Crown this season is fantastic. To see a horse prove itself as the best staying chaser by winning all three of these races and the £1 million bonus would be superb for our sport.”
Fisher also stressed the bonus would again be insured, adding:
“As has been the case over the past two years we have used some of our marketing budgets for the three races to insure the bonus for a modest sum for the 2017/18 season. Jockey Club Racecourses will this year contribute a record breaking £22.9 million to prize money and we continue to reinvest every penny we make in profit back into British racing.”
Jessica Harrington says she is priming 2017 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John for a shot at this year’s £1 million bonus. His triumph in three Gold Cups last season – Cheltenham, Leopardstown and Punchestown – was unprecedented. Harrington said:
“This bonus is a great extra incentive and builds the season towards a crescendo for the sport. Ever since Sizing John won in April at Punchestown we have had the Triple Crown on our minds. Our aim is to start him off in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November. He looks fantastic and we are really keen to have a crack at the £1 million bonus for winning the three races. It's exciting to have a horse to run in these races.”
Champion Jumps trainer Nicky Henderson may have a contender for the £1 million in Might Bite, winner of last year’s RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He said:
“The Chase Triple Crown is a fantastic initiative and it’s great that Jockey Club Racecourses is repeating the bonus. It focuses your mind as to where to start the season if you want a chance of winning the Triple Crown. Might Bite’s main objective is the King George so with this bonus it would certainly make sense to start at Haydock Park.”
Colin Tizzard says the yard is preparing previous bonus contender Cue Card for another tilt at the £1 million. He said:
"It’s fantastic that the £1 million is on offer again. Having come so close to winning it two years ago with Cue Card and winning the Betfair Chase again last year we are really excited for the season ahead. Who’s to say this won’t be his year?”
Ten-time Champion Jumps trainer, Paul Nicholls, 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. He said:
"It’s a great tribute to Kauto’s brilliance that The Jockey Club is putting up the £1 million bonus for any horse which can repeat his incredible feat. Kauto was special and showed that it is possible to win all three races. There’s no reason why the Betfair Chase, the King George and the Cheltenham Gold Cup can’t be won by the same exceptional horse in a season again.”