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The 11yo Mountainous became the first horse since Bonanza Boy 26 years ago to capture the Welsh Grand National twice when lifting the prize in the mud at Chepstow last Saturday. The Kerry Lee trained chaser ran a blinder in monsoon conditions beating Firebird Flyer at 9/1 with plenty in hand on ground he loves. The winning trainer Kerry Lee said ”I think the Grand National at Aintree will have to be on the agenda now”.
Good news hit the racing press last week that there will be £4,115,000 on offer over the four days of The Festival, which is staged at Cheltenham, the Home of Jump Racing this year starting on March 15.
In addition to the already-announced increase for the feature Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, worth a record £575,000 in 2016, there are increases in prize money for the National Hunt Chase (to £100,000), the JLT Novices’ Chase (to £130,000) and the Weatherbys Champion Bumper to £70,000).
Nine of the 10 handicaps at The Festival also have higher prize funds in 2016, with rises ranging from eight to 20 per cent.
The total boost to prize money at The Festival in 2016 is £215,000, with the new race, the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices Hurdle, worth £75,000.
Simon Claisse, Regional Director of Racing, Jockey Club Racecourses South West, & Clerk of the Course, Cheltenham, said last week: “Cheltenham is delighted to offer record prize money of over £4 million at The Festival in 2016.”
“The increase in prize money to the National Hunt Chase means that all four novices’ chases at The Festival will be worth at least £100,000, while we now also have threehandicapchases matching these values.”
“As previously announced, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup will be run for a record total prize fund of £575,000 this season, which consolidates its position as the most valuable Grade 1 chase anywhere in the British Isles.”
“We continually strive to provide the very best experience for everyone involved with Jump racing and, with these prize money increases along with the recent investment in the owners’ and trainers’ facilities and the new Owners’ and Trainers’ Bar in The Princess Royal Stand, we are proud of what we offer to owners and trainers.”
The news follows Jockey Club Racecourses – which runs the likes of Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom Downs and Newmarket racecourses – today announcing it is making a record contribution to prize money across its 15 tracks of £20.9 million in 2016, prior to any fixture abandonments. This is an increase of £1 million on the previous year and represents the largest ever commitment by a racecourse group.
By the end of 2016 Jockey Club Racecourses will have grown its prize money contribution by 61% since 2010, when it injected a then-industry-record £13 million into the sport.
The West Country wizard Paul Nicholls is 2/5 to take 2015/16 Trainers Championship with Willie Mullins next best at 11/4. The highly regarded Un De Sceaux is evens with Paddy Power for the Sodexo Clarence House Stakes at Ascot later this month. At Leopardstown on Sunday in the Coralie Hurdle I pass on a good word for Desoto County at around 12/1.
Yours In Sport.
Back Next Thursday.
Kevan Minter – The Colonel.