€1m Marois among Group 1 jewels to get cash boost
Champion Hurdle moves to same card as Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris
France Galop has revealed details of several major cash injections for some of its most historic races as it seeks to bolster its portfolio of Group 1s in the face of ever stiffer competition from abroad.
The increases have partly been financed from a €1.2m war chest announced during budget savings at the end of last year, as well as from increased sponsor contributions.
The Prix Jacques le Marois, sponsored since 1986 by the Niarchos family's Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard, enjoys the steepest rise and will be worth €1 million on August 12, up €300,000 on the race won by Al Wukair in 2017.
As happened last year, the Marois falls just 11 days after the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, itself a £1m race aimed at the same population of top European milers.
While the newly rebuilt ParisLongchamp commences racing on April 8, the grand reopening ceremonies will take place on April 29, coinciding with a Prix Ganay which will have its prize fund doubled to €600,000 as a one off celebration.
Races sponsored by Qatar Equestrian and Racing Club have also been enhanced with the Prix Vermeille rising from €350,000 to €600,000.
Four thoroughbred Group 1s on the supporting card for the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe – the Prix de l'Opera, Prix Marcel Boussac, Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and the Prix de la Foret – as well as the Qatar Arabian World Cup, have all been boosted to an overall tune of €500,000.
French Champion Hurdle joins Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris
The most significant change to the jumping calendar is the decision to bring the Grande Course de Haies (French Champion Hurdle) and the Prix Alain du Breuil for four-year-old hurdlers forward by three weeks, making for a mouthwatering two days on May 19 and 20 for the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris meeting.
Three of France's 27 Group races on the Flat also move either date or venue in 2018. The Prix Jean Prat, won last year by Thunder Snow ahead of just four rivals when run over a round mile at Chantilly, moves to Deauville's straight track.
The Prix du Moulin de Longchamp returns to its traditional slot on Sunday September 9, having shared the limelight on the Arc Trials card since 2011. And the Criterium International moves from Saint-Cloud to Longchamp, sharing top billing with the Prix Royal-Oak on Sunday, October 28. The Criterium de Saint-Cloud will be run 24 hours earlier at its usual home across the Seine.
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