Prize money for the Boylesports Irish Grand National has been almost doubled, with €500,000 up for grabs in the 2017 renewal.
The race was worth €275,000 this year, but that value has taken a massive jump due to increased funding from Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and Fairyhouse Racecourse.
The race, which will be the most valuable of its type in Ireland, will continue to be sponsored by Boylesports for the next three years.
Fairyhouse general manager, Peter Roe, said: “We are very happy that this globally-renowned race with such a long and illustrious history is now truly a huge rival to the greatest National Hunt races.
“The €500,000 prize fund places us up there with the likes of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and will definitely attract more and more of the best horses out there, as well as greater crowds, especially from Britain.
“We are delighted that an Irish firm like Boylesports are renewing their sponsorship with us for a further three years and are matching our ambition. We are thrilled to work with a partner who is keen to support our fast-paced industry and use this platform as part of their growth strategy over the coming years.”
The Irish Grand National is one of the few major races to have eluded Willie Mullins but the cash injection has provided the Closutton maestro with an added incentive to finally land the Easter Monday showpiece.
“It’s not been the luckiest race for me over the years,” Mullins conceded.
“Hopefully we can change that now that it has really, really decent prize-money. I’m delighted to see that.”
Mullins believes the announcement is a significant boost to a meeting that has been overshadowed by the other spring festivals in recents years.
“Fairyhouse needs a boost, it’s getting sandwiched a bit between Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown so a major prize like that for handicappers is fantastic.” he said.
“Easter at Fairyhouse is always a traditional meeting and this might bring back the real class horses.”
The Bunny Boiler won the Irish Grand National for Noel Meade in 2002 and the Meath handler also hailed yesterday’s announcement, stating it was the only way the race could be revitalised.
He said: “It’s fantastic news. It’s one of our most famous races, maybe our most famous jump race.
“There has been a lot of emphasis on the handicaps in Cheltenham and horses had started to drift over there, leaving only one way to bring the race back up and that was to increase prize-money and hopefully that will work.”
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