Biggest prizes for UK horse races

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Biggest Prizes for UK Horse Races

To say horseracing has come on leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings in the seventeenth century would be somewhat of an understatement. The ‘Sport of Kings’ as it’s sometimes known distributed prize money of over £53 million in 2018 over its 339 fixtures.

This figure equates to more than double the amount of prize money on offer in 2009, and with commercial revenue continuing to grow, significant improvements to facilities, and attendance on the increase, British horse racing is in a great place at the moment.

It’s unknown what Maj Humphrey Wyndham spent her share of the prize money on for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1924. What we do know is that she could have bought herself a house and car and still had enough left over to buy herself a year’s supply of groceries.

The prize money on offer in Britain’s richest race nearly one hundred and fifty years earlier was almost twice that of the £685,00 that Maj Wyndham took home for winning the Gold Cup. Sir Charles Bunbury walked away with a handsome prize of £1,065,00 5s when jockey Sam Arnull rode Sir Charles’s horse Diomed to victory in the first-ever running of the Epsom Derby on 4th May 1780. Epsom has had a rich and traditional history and has given the country greats races over time. You can read more on the course at


Although considerably less than the £921,000 on offer for the winner of the 2019 Epsom Derby, the 2020 event still offered rich pickings, with the winner taking home an impressive £283,550. Winning the Derby is as much about prestige as it is the money. However, missing out on winning the gold ribbon of English flat racing has its financial rewards, with horses finishing between second and sixth picking up prizes not to be sniffed at.

Khalifa may have been five and a half lengths behind eventual winner Serpentine, but it still meant owner Ahmad Al Shaikh walked away with his share of the £107,500 on offer for the second-placed horse. As well as the financial rewards bestowed on the winner and runner up, the third-placed horse pocketed £53,800, fourth snapped up the £26,800 on offer, and £13,450 and £6,750 were awarded to fifth and sixth respectively.

Serpentines win meant the three joint owners, John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, split their share of £212,662, earning them over £70,000 each. Prize money is generally broken down, with the owners receiving seventy-five percent, jockeys and trainers getting ten percent each with the remaining five percent going to stable staff and racing charities.

For the first time in its history, the Cheltenham Gold Cup offered a more significant prize fund than Englands most prestigious horse race, the Epsom Derby, in 2020. The £614,812 on offer for the highlight race of the Cheltenham Festival, scaled down to as far as the horse finishing eighth.

This was welcome news for the owners of Clan Des Obeaux, whos eighth-place finish meant they could celebrate having their horse run in the Derby with a few bottles of champagne and still had some change from their seventy five percent share of the £2,112 prize money.

It was more likely to be vintage champagne on the menu for the owner of the winner Al Bourn Photo., considering she walked away with over £350,000, and the £132,500 for finishing second would be a welcome addition to anyone’s bank account.

With prizes ranging from £66,312 down to £4,125 for finishing between third and seventh, it’s safe to say there were a lot of broad smiles on those amongst the money that day.

On Sunday the 15th March 2020, Mr.I P Crane took his horse to a wet and windy Carlisle Racecourse to race in the Cocklakes Open Hunters Chase. Forty-eight hours earlier, over at Cheltenham, Mrs. J Donnelly saw her horse Al Boum Photo win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Earning her £351,688 in prize money. Back to Carlise and Mr. Canes, horse Band of Blood finished forty-four lengths behind the winner, which meant the owner went away with just £242,00.

These two events share one great thing in common. Regardless of the money on offer or the prestige the races carried, you can be sure that the butterflies in Mr. Cranes’ stomach were as big as though in Mrs. Donellys and the pride of seeing their horses run in their respective races was on level par. Because after all, British horse racing is more than about money. It’s about the enjoyment of this great British institution.

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