Record £4m prize money at Cheltenham Festival 2016

Prize money at the Cheltenham Festival in March will exceed £4m for the first time.

An increase in value to the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup to £575,000 had already been announced and there are also bigger purses on offer in the National Hunt Chase (£100,000), the JLT Novices’ Chase (£130,000) and the Weatherbys Champion Bumper (£70,000).

Nine of the 10 handicaps at the Festival will also be more valuable.

Simon Claisse, regional director of racing, Jockey Club Racecourses South West, and clerk of the course at Cheltenham, said: “Cheltenham is delighted to offer record prize-money of over £4million at the Festival in 2016.

“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.”

Meanwhile Whisper may run in France instead of defending his crown in the Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree in April.

Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old has won the Grade One on Merseyside for the last two seasons but his chief goal this spring will be the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Whisper has made a bad start to the season – he finished last in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and was then pulled up in the Relkeel at Cheltenham - and will not run before the World Hurdle, in which he finished fifth last term.

Aintree remains an option, but connections are already giving thought to valuable French targets at Auteuil racecourse.

Owner Dai Walters said: “Everything’s fine with him – Nicky’s done all the checks and couldn’t find anything.

“He just didn’t like the ground at Cheltenham, it’s as simple as that.

“He needs top of the ground, so he won’t be out until the Cheltenham Festival.

“There’s Aintree to think about as well, but a lot would depend on how he comes out of Cheltenham.

“There’s also the big hurdle races in France to think about, so that could be an option.”

  • Sunday’s meeting at Tramore is subject to a 2pm inspection on tomorrow afternoon.

Officials checked conditions on Thursday afternoon and they found the track to be heavy and partially waterlogged, but the forecast is reported to be a touch brighter.

The track tweeted: “Tramore to hold 2pm inspection on Sat ahead of Sunday’s fixture. Ground heavy (partially waterlogged). Favourable forecast for drying.”


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