Chelmsford: increasing prize-money from February

Chelmsford has committed to adding £350,000 to prize-money for Class 4, 5 and 6 races at the track from February in a boost for the grassroots level of the sport.

The value of a Class 6 race will increase by £1,000 to £7,300, a Class 5 contest will be worth £10,050 (from £9,000) and a Class 4 event will have a minimum purse of £13,000 (from £12,500).

The course’s prize-money compares favourably with other all-weather venues. Arena Racing Company-owned tracks will offer £6,100 per Class 6 race and £7,100 per Class 5 handicap in January and the Jockey Club Racecourses-owned Kempton will stage Class 6 handicaps for £6,000 that month.

Chelmsford chief executive Phil Siers said: “We’re putting an extra £350,000 into our prize-money to start with and with a view to increasing it further later in the year.

"It’s mostly at the grassroots end of racing – that’s where most of the runners are at the moment and hopefully it will give us a boost to move things forward again in the middle of the year.

“We’ve all suffered from the effects of the pandemic and we’re gradually getting back from it. We’re doing our little bit for racing to increase prize-money and incentivise owners to run their horses and hopefully attract new owners into the game. Every little helps and it’s important we recognise that at all levels, not just at the premier levels.”

The Essex venue has 51 fixtures next year and is set to become the first floodlit turf venue in Britain next year when it hopes to stage a handful of mixed all-weather and turf cards in the second half of the season.

The turf track, inside the Polytrack course, is just under a mile round and will stage races initially over five furlongs and upwards of a mile due to its layout.