Royal Ascot: summer spectacular will have record prize-money this yearPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Prize fund for Royal Ascot hits £5 million
ROYAL ASCOT will feature prize-money of £5 million for the first time this year, while the Windsor Forest Stakes has been renamed to commemorate the new title given to Prince William.
The £500,000 increase in purses represents a rise of 11 per cent and is part of a total for the 2013 season at Ascot of just more than £10m. While that landmark was breached in 2008, this year's amount does not include the £3.4m on offer on Qipco British Champions Day, which is an industry joint venture.
Ascot has increased prizemoney for the St James's Palace Stakes and Coronation Stakes by £100,000 to £350,000, to bring them in line with the Queen Anne Stakes, King's Stand Stakes and Gold Cup.
The Duke of Cambridge Stakes - the new name for the Windsor Forest - has been increased in value by £25,000 to £125,000.
Her Majesty's representative at Ascot Johnny Weat herby said yesterday: "We're delighted to be able to announce these prize-money increases today. A £5 million royal meeting is a real milestone for the country's flagship Flat race meeting.
"We're also naturally thrilled Her Majesty The Queen has graciously consented to renaming the Windsor Forest in honour of her grandson, the Duke of Cambridge."
Other notable increases across the meeting include the Royal Hunt Cup and Wokingham rising by £25,000 to £150,000, while the Coventry Stakes and Queen Mary Stakes, for which the Ascot executive retains ambitions of promotion to Group 1 status, will be worth six-figure sums in 2013.
Ascot chief executive Charles Barnett said: "We've worked hard to make the international races competitive globally in recent years and our focus this year has been to enhance the top three-year-old races, the feature handicaps, t he two-year-old championships and the programme generally."
He added: "We have seen some remarkable racing at Ascot in recent years and, while the importance of winning at Royal Ascot both in terms of prestige and in value to the bloodstock industry can't be denied, increasing prize-money is equally crucial to attracting the best horses to run in a highly competitive market."
Ascot hosted five of the top 11 Group/Grade 1 races in the world over the past three years, based on an average of t he World Thoroughbred Ranking ratings of the first four placed horses, a table published yesterday by the Inter national Federation of Horseracing Authorities revealed.
Last year Ascot plugged the shortfall from a decline in central funding by increasing prizemoney by £900,000 to £9.4m - 23 per cent of the annual increase in purses across all racecourses.
Despite the fall in levy being reversed, Ascot said it would maintain its position as the largest executive contributor to prize-money. Ascot head of PR Nick Smith said: "Having plugged gaps we're now using the increase we're getting this year to improve prize-money further."
Discussions with the Horsemen's Group about how prizemoney agreements might work, possibly as soon as 2014, were described as "fruitful".
Other developments include the launch yesterday of both the new ascot.co.uk website and the style guide for 2013. Stricter dress codes were introduced for Royal Ascot in 2012 and have been left unchanged.