With the spring horse racing season completely decimated by the pandemic, it was unfortunately necessary for prize money to be reduced as a consequence.
A lack of betting revenue, both online and on the course, also hasn’t helped, and the various authorities had no choice but to make the tough decision to slash prize funds.
Other factors, including a lack of revenue from ticket sales and with minimal media rights payments, have combined to devastate the available prize money – last year’s Derby had a value of £1.5 million placed upon it.
However, there was finally some good news this week as it was revealed that the Jockey Club will be ‘donating’ to the prize kitty of the Investec Derby, ensuring it’s worth a cool £500,000 to entrants.
It’s a significant boost, because while the minimum prize fund for Group 1 races is £100,000, there is a real desire within the sport to keep payouts lucrative and eye-catching for the big renewals despite the financial hardship that racing is currently facing.
Compared to other major races on home soil and overseas, the Derby will be at least twice as prestigious as any other renewal taking place at Royal Ascot this week, although it fairly pales in comparison to the €900,000 war chest that entrants to the Prix du Jockey Club will battle it out for at Chantilly.
Other major races on the flat this summer, including the Oaks, the Coral-Eclipse and the Darley July Cup, which all take place in July will be contested for a £250,000 prize fund.
It continues in the wake of ‘executive contributions’ in excess of £1 million made by the Jockey Club already to a number of Group 1 races, including support for the Guineas weekend.
Their group racing director, Richard Norris, said:
“Jockey Club Racecourses is operating at a loss with racing behind closed doors. Nevertheless, we continue to make executive contributions and feel it is important to invest in races that represent the very best of the Flat season.
“Therefore, prize funds for the Investec Derby, Investec Oaks, Coral-Eclipse and Darley July Cup far exceed new industry-agreed minimum values and are worth a combined total of £1.25 million.
“We’re proud of the Jockey Club’s record on prize-money and this is a further illustration of us doing everything we can to support the industry.”
English King Poised for Epsom Coronation?
The early ante post favourite for the Derby is English King, who looks a certainty to be entered for the Epsom showpiece after triumphing in fine style in the Lingfield Derby Trial.
|English King||Ed Walker||4/1|
|Military March||Saeed bin Suroor||6/1|
|Palace Pier||John Gosden||14/1|
Trainer Ed Walker was in ebullient mood after watching the 7/2 hopeful bolt up in the trial:
“In terms of is he good enough, that is a question that is still to be answered, but he could not have been more impressive at Lingfield and he did it in a good time,” he said. “Lots of boxes are ticked and I think he has all the credentials to be a Derby horse.”
Of course, many punters will instead opt for Kameko, who won the 2,000 Guineas a couple of weeks ago – trouncing the previously unbeaten Pinatubo along the way.
Either way, it’s shaping up to be a fantastic – and lucrative – edition of the Derby.