Cheltenham Racecourse today announced prize money of £5.77 million for the 2009/2010 season, which starts with The Showcase on Friday and Saturday, October 16 and 17.
This works out at an average of £52,500 for the 110 races over Cheltenham’s 17 racedays and, during the four days of The Festival in March, £130,000 per race.
Simon Claisse, Director of Racing and Clerk of the Course, commented: “The total prize money is only just shy of last season’s record level.
“Yesterday saw the first rainfall here for five weeks. The irrigators have been putting on about two inches of water a week and this will continue - the current ground conditions are good to firm.”
Claisse announced that thee will be no additional races for the 2010 Festival, with six races on March 16 and 18 and seven on March 17 and 19, while prize money will remain at current levels for the five main championships races, headed by the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup at £475,000.
Cheltenham is in advance discussions with the tote about the continuation of this sponsorship which started back in 1980.
Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham Racecourse’s Managing Director, remarked: “It is all good news about the tote sponsorship continuing. We strongly believe that all five main championship races relate together in value. We have a plan in place to move those values upwards.”
He would welcome suggestions for extra races at the 2011 Festival, while the question of The Festival embracing a Saturday continues on the agenda though any move would have to be justified by the prospect of a better commercial return on that day, something which does not look likely at the moment with higher hospitality income on weekdays.
Turning to racegoers, Gillespie said: “We are very aware that we have to provide the best possible value for our customers. We are trying to make sure that people feel a commitment and loyalty to Cheltenham.
“There are now more offers outside The Festival, with also free admission for accompanied children, previously for under sixteens, now applying to under eighteens.
“We have been more cautious with prices for hospitality, with demand having dropped in the recession. You can now buy plenty of hospitality for under £100 for restaurant packages and these have been popular for November.
“We are working to a strategic business plan, taking account of the current economic pressures but looking forward with enormous confidence and optimism and I, like racegoers, cannot wait for the season to start.”
Over 1,000 people came to the racecourse on Sunday - October 4 - to see behind the scenes at a season preview
Gillespie declared: “We were delighted with how it went on Sunday. We gave people the chance to ride around the parade ring on the safest horses you have ever seen and be presented with a genuine Gold Cup.
“It was great to see so many come on Sunday and we also had tours of the Royal Box for which there was a queue the whole day.
“So many people live within walking distance of the racecourse but have never come on a raceday and we wanted to encourage them to do so by removing the barriers that may put them off.”
Cheltenham is talking to connections of an Australian hurdler, Gorge, about racing in Britain, with the seven-year-old gelding being aimed at either the Ladbrokes World Hurdle or the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival in March.
SPORTINGBET.COM SPONSORS VALUABLE NEW HURDLE RACE
Cheltenham Racecourse today announced that leading online betting operator sportingbet.com is to sponsor a new £50,000 race at The Showcase, aimed at the top four-year-old hurdlers.
The sportingbet.com Hurdle, to be run on Saturday, October 17, and broadcast live on Channel 4 Racing, will be a conditions race with the basic weight set at 10 stone 12lb, and replaces a similar event previously run at Aintree.
sportingbet.com will also be sponsoring a £25,000 three-mile handicap chase on Friday, October 16, the first day of Cheltenham’s new season.
Cheltenham’s Director of Sponsorship, Peter McNeile, welcomed the new sponsorship initiative.
"We are extremely pleased to welcome sportingbet.com, one of the world's leading online betting companies, as a new sponsor at Cheltenham, particularly as backers of such prestigious races at the start of our season.
“The Showcase is growing in popularity and interest each year, and I’m sure that the upward curve will be maintained in 2009.”
Andrew McIver, CEO of sportingbet.com, said his company was proud to be associated with Cheltenham and with an exciting new start to the National Hunt season.
“We are delighted to sponsor such an exciting race which we hope will attract the best four-year-old hurdlers, as well as sponsoring such a competitive steeplechase.
“sportingbet.com continues to go from strength to strength in racing and our new association with Jump racing's best loved venue helps demonstrate our commitment to the sport and to our racing customers.
“It is a great opportunity for us to entertain existing customers and to attract new clients as lead sponsor of Cheltenham’s first fixture of the season,” he said.
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