Warwick Racecourse has announced a big rise in prize money as part of its quest to be recognised as one of the UK’s premier jumps courses.
The Jockey Club course attracted a record number of racegoers through its turnstiles in 2016 – with attendances growing nearly 30 per cent in the space of just 12 months.
The creation of a May Racing Carnival has been identified as one of the key contributing factors behind the renewed interest in the Midlands racecourse, in addition to a focus on staging quality Jumps fixtures.
The Carnival incorporates three separate events, each with a different theme; Kids Carnival Day (Monday, May 1), Think Pink Ladies Night (Saturday, May 13) and Proudly Warwick Celebration Day (Thursday, May 25).
The final day of the Carnival, Proudly Warwick Celebration Day, is ideally positioned to be something out of the ordinary, as it is the last fixture of the season not just for Warwick but also for the South-West region of the Jockey Club, which also includes Cheltenham, Exeter and Wincanton.
Prize money for the final fixture of this season is being increased by close to £30,000 across the seven races.
Feature race of the Carnival, The Wigley Group Carnival Chase, now has a prize pot of £30,000 (up £7,500), while other highlights will include The Close Brothers Birmingham Novices Chase with a prize fund of £15,000 (up £5,000) and the Feldon Dunsmore Robert Gold Handicap Hurdle, which will carry £12,000 (up £3,700).
The new prize money is part of a £2.1 million year-on-year increase at the Jockey Club’s racecourses, which will see a budgeted increase of around £100,000 at Warwick.
In addition to boosting the Proudly Warwick prize pot, Warwick is also lifting its minimum prize values. In 2016 the racecourse was £159,000 above the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) minimum and is forecasted to be more than £250,000 above in 2017.
Andre Klein, General Manager at Warwick Racecourse, said whilst the team promoting the Carnival are confident that all three days will continue to build on their initial success as far as public attendance goes, developing the quality of the racing product is just as important.
He said: “Whilst getting more people on-course and raising the profile of the track in the local community will always be key goals for our team, one of the most important objectives we have is seeing Warwick recognised as a premier jumps course.
“The only way we can achieve this is stepping up the quality of the racing we stage at the track and the prize money we have on offer.
“We have some great race days, with good stakes, most notably Betfred Classic Chase Day and Betway Kingmaker Chase Day, however it makes sense to see the Carnival become a highlight from a racing perspective as well.
“As such we have decided to start the ball rolling with prize money increases on the last day of the season and placed close to £30,000 into the various races on the day.
“Each event on the programme will be a perpetual trophy race and carry a new race handle linked in some way to the history of the course.
“We hope this will add a bit of interest and intrigue to the fixture, as the races get established over time.
“On the whole, we are budgeted to be well above the BHA’s minimum prize values once again this year. Last year we recorded a big increase in field entries and we are confident these new measures will support us to continue to grow our reputation across the industry as one of the top small jumps courses in the country.”
Proudly Warwick - Celebration Lunch. The final day of the season is always popular from a hospitality point of view. To compliment the racing Warwick Racecourse is hosting a celebration luncheon in the Paddock Pavilion.
This function will be a perfect opportunity for guests to enjoy some wonderful food and drink whilst watching the great sport on offer out on the track. Added attractions will include fashion, live music and roaming performance entertainment.
Tickets are on sale now for £85 through www.warwickracecourse.co.uk.
Full programme for the 2017 Proudly Warwick Celebration Race Day
The William Eboral Novice Hurdle (2m 3f) – Named after the first known Clerk of the Course, in 1785 - £8,000 (up £3,000)
The Coronation Handicap Hurdle (2m –Ratings 0- 140) - Named after the winner of the Warwick Derby Trial Stakes and Epsom Derby of 1841, Sponsored by Close Brothers - £12,000 (up £3,700)
The Birmingham Novices Chase (2m 4f – Ratings 0 – 135) Named after the 1829 St Leger winner, who was locally owned and raced at Warwick, Sponsored by Close Brothers - £15,000 (up £5,000)
The Robert Gold Handicap Hurdle (3m 1f – Ratings 0-140) - Named after local temperance evangelist who’s effigy was burnt at the course in 1883, Sponsored by Feldon Dunsmore - £12,000 (up £3,700)
The Carnival Chase – (2m – Open) The new feature race of the Carnival, Sponsored by The Wigley Group - £30,000 (up £7,500)
The Chandler Handicap Chase (3m – Ratings 0 – 120) - Named after the Grand National winner of 1847 who broke a world record with a 37 foot leap, Sponsored by Close Brothers - £8,000 (up £2,200)
The Warwickshire Champion Bumper (2m) Last race of the season, named proudly after our great county, Sponsored by Close Brothers - £5,000 (up £2,600)