Minimum Purses for British Group Races Rising

Prize money in Britain during 2003 will top £100 million for the first time, and minimum values are being raised considerably, but not by as much at the bottom end as wished for by the Racehorse Owners' Association (ROA).

The top-end rises in minimums are very significant, with group I races for 3-year-olds and up having to be run for at least £200,000, increasing from £135,000, and the group II level rising to £100,000 from £60,000 and group III jumping from £35,000 to £50,000.

For 2-year-old group races, the new minimums are: group I, £165,000 (£120,000); group II, £70,000 (£45,000); and group III £40,000 (£30,000).

This will make a big difference with plenty of well-known races being currently run at or near the minimum levels, such as the group I Lockinge Stakes over a mile at Newbury which will have to go up by at least £50,000 from its advertised value of £150,000 this year.

The lowest minimum in 2003 will be £4,000, rather than the current £2,550.

The British Horseracing Board revealed that it is contributing £5 million toward the £18 million cost to raise minimums, with the balance coming from the Levy Board. The ROA had wanted an investment of £27 million.

Peter Savill, the BHB chairman, commented: "We have restored minimum values of the lowest races, which were below those enjoyed in 1993. We have maintained differentials between race classification, and we have ensured continued flexibility for racecourses in funding their race programs. It is a very fair balance between the relative positions of the owners and racecourses."