Ripon doubles prize fund to become premier course

Racing at the course.

Racing at the course.

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The owners of winning horses at Ripon Racecourse will be richer than ever this season with prize money topping £1m for the first time.

The Ripon Race Company has more than doubled its total prize money to become a premier racecourse and is offering almost £2m to race horse owners, committing 40 per cent of its revenue from media rights and course bookmakers RiponBet into race funds.

Managing director James Hutchinson said: “Hopefully it will attract better horses to come to Ripon.”

The course, which holds its first meeting of the season today (Thursday), handed out £958,500 to owners, trainers and jockeys in prize-money last year. Horses will compete for more than double that amount in 2014 with £1,958,500 on offer across 16 meetings.

Mr Hutchinson said: “There were new agreements made at the end of last year in the horseman’s group that we will make the prize money to be a premier racecourse and not the tier below.

“We have committed to putting in a certain percentage of what we receive from our betting shops and our media rights. We have committed to putting in 40 per cent of that into our prize money, which has helped bolster the figure to over £1m.”

He said the money would be spread evenly across all races and improve competition across the field.

“It’s all about trying to increase the prize money to all of our racing for the horses that will be running at Ripon all across the year,” added Mr Hutchinson.

“There are one or two races where the standard of the race has been improved so hopefully that will attract better horses.”

Ripon Racecourse introduced RiponBet last year as a replacement for the on course Tote.

The betting outlet levies all money gambled on one race and it has allowed the course to retain more money.

Carl Tonks, the racecourse’s head groundsman, said: “One of the benefits of doing Ripon Bet is that we can be in more control of doing the prize money. We are one of the few racecourses that can do this.”

The course, known as Yorkshire’s “Garden Racecourse”, stages its first race meeting of the season today with a seven-race card set to begin at 1.55pm.

The Friday evening meeting on May 9 will also host a beer festival in partnership with Theakston’s Beer Festival.

Children can attend races with no admission charge after the age limit for free entry was raised to 18-years-old by the course.