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Racing week: Boost for Cheltenham Festival

The prize money on offer at next year’s Cheltenham Festival will see a significant increase for all four of its feature races in 2006, following the successful introduction of the four-day Festival earlier this year.

The prize fund for the totesport Gold Cup will be an impressive £400,000 — an increase of more than £50,000 on last year. The Smurfit Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase both see increases of £40,000, to £340,000 and £290,000 respectively. The Ladbrokes World Hurdle will see an increase of 30,000 to £230,000.

Peter McNeile of Cheltenham racecourse said: “We are thrilled to be able to significantly raise prize money for the four championship races at The Festival.

“The increases will enable the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Ladbrokes World Hurdle and totesport Gold Cup to cement their positions as the respective championship contests for the very best horses in jump racing.”

Ouija Board returns at Newmarket

Fans of the fabulous filly Ouija Board can look forward to seeing the dual Oaks and Breeders’ Cup winner in action at Newmarket on Saturday. The four-year-old is due to make her track reappearance in the Princess Royal John Doyle Stakes and is likely to be rejoined by former partner Kieren Fallon. Ouija Board has been out of action since suffering a stress fracture at Royal Ascot at York earlier in the year.

Chepstow back in business

Racing is due to resume at Chepstow with a jumps meeting on Saturday 8 October. The decision not to run any further flat meetings follows an inspection by a Jockey Club senior inspector who felt that the flat track needed more time to recover after an infestation by insect larvae.

Chepstow Racecourse’s clerk of the course Tim Long said: “Safety of horses and riders is always our number one priority, and we fully support the decision of the Jockey Club. The flat racing track will now be made ready for the 2006 flat racing season next spring.”

For sale — Ascot Royal box

Ascot’s Royal box and bandstand went under the hammer at a Sotheby’s auction earlier this week, but both items failed to sell. The Royal box was carefully dismantled when the £180m refurbishment of Ascot racecourse began last year. The blocks of stone were individually numbered to ensure that the structure could be rebuilt at a later date. The Royal box had been expected to sell for between £60,000 and £100,000, while the bandstand, which had been fully restored, was expected to fetch anything up to £125,000.

Jockeys’ working group reports back

The Jockey Club has dropped the recommendation for jockeys to take at least two days off a month as a three-month trial of its Voluntary Code of Practice comes to an end. The code still requires jockeys to arrive at the racecourse at least 30min before their first race, but the advice on rest days has been abandoned until evening racing resumes. Following a meeting with the Jockeys’ Working Schedules Group, the Jockey Club has agreed to assess racecourse around Britain to ensure that jockeys work and rest areas and included in refurbishment works. The group has also been called for trained physiotherapists to be available at all racecourses.

And finally . . .

The Irish horse welfare trust, a charity which specialises in the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of horse and ponies, including former racehorses, is running a charity auction through its website: www.ihwt.ie

Among the lots are an unique set of plain yellow colours including a free life registration, donated by Horse Racing Ireland, which have currently attracted the auction’s highest bid of €26,000. In second place is a set of emerald green racing colours with a white cap, currently going at €9,000. The auction includes wide range of racing items, plus other memorabilia. For more details visit: www.ihwt.ie/auction

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