Chester’s Ormonde Stakes at the May Festival is set to be incorporated into a new £1million Stayers’ programme during the British flat racing season.
The Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million is a prize of £1million that will be awarded to the connections of a horse that having won one of four recognised prep races in May - Longines Sagaro Stakes (Ascot), Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes (Chester), Yorkshire Cup (York) or the Matchbook Henry II Stakes (Sandown Park) – then goes on to win the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June, the Qatar Goodwood Cup at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in July and the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York’s Ebor Festival in August.
The Ormonde Stakes is registered as a Group Three race and is run over a distance of just over a mile and five furlongs around the famous tight track. The race has been won in recent years by the likes of Western Hymm, Dartmouth, mud-loving stayer Clever Cookie and, back in 2014, Tom Dascombe’s former stable star Brown Panther.
The £1 million would be split between the connections of the successful horse, with 70 per cent awarded to the owner and 30 per cent divided equally between the trainer, stable staff, breeder and jockey. Current top-class stayers such as Big Orange, Capri, Montaly and Stradivarius are likely to be the horses vying for such a prize.
Richard Thomas, Chester Racecourse chief executive, said: “We are enthusiastic supporters of the efforts to promote the programme for staying horses.
“This is a fantastic initiative from Weatherbys Hamilton and we are delighted that the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes has been chosen as one of the prep races. Let’s hope that an Ormonde winner can go on and secure the bonus!”
Nick Rust, Chief Executive at the British Horseracing Authority said: “This is a superb initiative which the BHA supports wholeheartedly.
“Not only will it create a fascinating and exciting story and an interesting extra dimension to the Flat season, it will also provide yet another incentive to own and train a staying horse here in Britain.
“We are investing heavily in this area at the moment and it is essential that we do all we can to ensure that stayers are being bred in this country, and when they are bred, that they remain here to race.”
n Bangor-on-Dee are not envisaging any problems with the weather ahead of Friday’s seven-race card.
The fixture, due to get underway at 1.40pm, has attracted a host of good entries, and despite snow and freezing temperatures earlier in the week, milder conditions are set to arrive from tonight onwards, with no inspection planned.
The going is soft on both the chase and hurdles tracks.