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Prize-money boost will see two Royal Ascot races worth £1 million in 2020

Royal Ascot will boast not just one but two £1 million/$1,901,970 races for the first time in 2020, with a record £8,095,000/$15,396,500 on offer across the prestigious five-day meeting.

The Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Gr 1, 1m2f) (from £750,000/$1,426,480) and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Gr 1, 6f) (from £600,000/$1,141,180), will offer seven-figure prize-money in June as Ascot’s executive seeks to entice international runners to in turn boost the track’s income from overseas betting and the media and data rights which go with that.

Overall prize-money at the royal meeting in 2020 will increase by £765,000/$1,455,010 on 2019 values, with 16 of the 30 races being the subject of increases and with no race over the five days being run for less than £95,000/$180,688. 

Ascot’s chief executive Guy Henderson said: “Royal Ascot plays an important role for the industry in maintaining international investment in British racing. 

“The progress we have made with our international commercial rights, our debt financing programme and our business as a whole means that we are now able to start to implement our long-held aspiration to increase the prize fund for our flagship and internationally relevant Group 1 races at Royal Ascot to £1m, beginning with the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. 

“These two races, which historically appeal to international horsemen, have been selected first as being likely to produce increased income from overseas betting and associated media/data rights. Equally, there are so many six, and now seven-figure races staged around the world over these distances that we must be conscious of options open to our own locally trained star horses.”

Nick Smith, Ascot’s director of racing and public affairs, said work commissioned by British racing’s public affairs group had demonstrated how important events like Royal Ascot are to the wider sport, by promoting British racing and attracting interest and investment.

He added: “Deirdre’s participation in Britain this year has given significant exposure to our elite events in Japan, which will hopefully encourage further involvement in British racing from Asia.

“Similarly, the NBC programming of Royal Ascot, the most extensively covered racing event in the USA [including coverage on the main channel on Royal Ascot Saturday] has come about in large part due to the meeting being put on the map by American runners and successes.

“Ascot is very fortunate to have such a strong annual programme, with nine Group 1 races outside Qipco British Champions Day, and we are committed to making them as appealing as possible to horsemen from across the globe.”

Total prize-money at Ascot next year, excluding the industry-owned Champions Day, will be £14.4m /$26,627,600, an increase of £819,000/$1,557,720, with Ascot’s executive contribution rising to £8.1m/$15,406,000 from £7.4m /$14,074,600.

However, Ascot is not immune from the pressure on racecourse finances the sport finds itself under from falling media rights income due to the closure of betting shops caused by the government’s crackdown on FOBTs.

Henderson added: “The UK LBO media rights landscape and levy picture remains very challenging which makes it difficult to plan beyond 2020.”

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