BONUSPRINT.COM TO SPONSOR HAYDOCK'S CHAMPION HURDLE TRIAL - AFSOUN ON COURSE FOR £50,000 GRADE TWO CONTEST
Haydock Park racecourse is delighted to announce that Bonusprint.com will be the new sponsors of the track's Champion Hurdle Trial, run on Saturday, January 20.
The £50,000 Grade Two contest, run over two miles, has been won by some outstanding performers in its 26-year history, and is an important trial for the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
George Ward, Chairman of Bonusprint.com, said today: "We believe that sponsorship is all about relationships and value for money.
"We have known Dickon White [Haydock Park's Managing Director] for many years through our sponsorship at Aintree, and we believe that Haydock Park's Bonusprint.com Champion Hurdle Trial, with BBC coverage, is a perfect vehicle for the promotion of our rapidly expanding digital brand, Bonusprint.com."
One horse that looks like heading to Haydock Park for this year's renewal is the Nicky Henderson-trained Afsoun, who took an unlucky fall last time out in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day when still travelling well at the head of affairs.
The five-year-old showed high class form as a juvenile last season, winding up with a fine third to Detroit City in the Grade One Sportsman Anniversary 4-y-o Novices' Hurdle at Aintree, and made a very impressive reappearance this term when storming home by eight lengths at Newbury in November, despite carrying top weight in the Listed limited handicap hurdle over an extended two miles.
Henderson said this morning: "The plan for Afsoun at the moment is to go to Haydock for the Bonusprint.com Champion Hurdle Trial on January 20.
"He is fine after taking a fall last time - absolutely 100 per cent - and it was unfortunate at Kempton. He just reached for it a bit, but he is fine now.
"We're not sure if he handles heavy going as he has not run on it before, and that would be a slight worry, but he handles soft ground well.
"As far as future targets go, we'll cross one bridge at a time - the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle may be an option, but he could also go for the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury."
First run in 1981, the inaugural winner of the Bonusprint.com Champion Hurdle Trial was the Peter Easterby-trained Starfen, who went on to finish fourth behind his stable companion, the great Sea Pigeon, in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Gaye Chance, successful in 1982, progressed to take the Stayers' Hurdle (now the Ladbrokes World Hurdle) at Cheltenham two years later, while the 1983 scorer, Ekbalco, was scoring at Haydock after taking Cheltenham's Bula Hurdle (now the Boylesports.com International) and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park.
The 1992 renewal produced its first Champion Hurdle victor in the shape of Granville Again. Martin Pipe's talented gelding fell two out in that year's Champion Hurdle but made amends a year later when getting the better of Royal Derbi by a length.
Gallant mare Flakey Dove took the spoils by 20 lengths for trainer Richard Price in 1994, and she went on to land the Champion Hurdle in the same season.
Other high class winners of the Bonusprint.com Champion Hurdle Trial include Relkeel, who saw off the previous year's heroine Flakey Dove by eight lengths in 1995, dual scorer Dato Star (1998 & 2000), and Rooster Booster, the brilliant winner of the 2003 Champion Hurdle, who triumphed at Haydock the following year.
The 2005 Ladbrokes World Hurdle hero Inglis Drever took the Haydock prize en route to Cheltenham glory, while last year saw a first Irish success in the Bonusprint.com Champion Hurdle Trial, as the John Queally-trained Al Eile produced a gutsy effort on his seasonal reappearance to edge home by a neck from Mister McGoldrick, who was finishing runner-up for the second year in succession.
Dickon White, Managing Director of Haydock Park, commented: "Haydock Park racecourse is delighted to welcome Bonusprint.com, one of racing's best known and longest established sponsors, as the new backer of the Bonsuprint.com Champion Hurdle Trial.
"The race has produced some tremendous winners over the years, and we look forward to another top class renewal this year."
ORDER OF RUNNING - HAYDOCK PARK, SATURDAY, JANUARY 20
12.55pm The Sporting Index Handicap Chase 2m £12,500
* 2.00pm The Peter Marsh Chase (Limited Handicap) (Grade Two) 3m £75,000
~ 2.35pm The Anglo Irish Bank Novices' Hurdle (Grade Two) 2m £30,000
3.05pm The Bonusprint.com Novices' Chase (Grade Two) 2m 4f £35,000
3.40pm The Red Square Vodka "Fixed Brush" Novices' Hurdle 2m 4f £5,500
4.10pm The Betrescue Antepostmag.com "Junior" Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race 1m 5f £2,500
* BBC Televised Races
~ Channel 4 Televised Race
RECORD PRIZE MONEY AT NEWMARKET
Important new fixtures created on NatWest Rowley Mile
Despite a substantial reduction in the contributions to prize money that Newmarket is set to receive in 2007 from the Levy Boards Basic Daily Rate payments, prize money at the Home of Racing will hit a new record this year of approximately £7,400,000, up from £7,310,000 last year.
Although the total number of racedays at Newmarkets two racecourses will remain at 37 in 2007, two brand new Friday-Saturday race meetings have been created on the NatWest Rowley Mile by moving four racedays from the old fixture list. The new dates are Friday, May 18 & Saturday, May 19, and Friday, September 21 & Saturday, September 22.
Michael Prosser, Newmarkets Director of Racing, commented: "Our Levy Board contributions are set to drop by some £185,000 this year, so we will be putting up some £275,000 in additional prize money in order to make up for this shortfall and fund the overall increase.
"To help generate the extra income that we need to make this possible, we have conducted a comprehensive review of our race programme and are making some important changes to our fixture list. While the main aim has been to try to maximise attendances and television and sponsorship revenue, another key aim was to strengthen the race programme at several of our key spring and autumn fixtures."
The new May dates have been made possible by streamlining the Craven Meeting in April into a two-day fixture on Wednesday, April 18 and Thursday, April 19, instead of its old three-day format and moving last years stand-alone fixture on the second Saturday in May to one week later. The valuable Suffolk Heritage Handicap, which was previously run on the second Saturday in May, is being moved to the Sunday of the Stan James Guineas Festival - six days earlier to add further betting interest to this top-class card.
Newmarket has worked closely with the BHB race planning department and NTF representatives in drawing up the new-look Craven programme. The best 14 races from the three days have been retained, increasing the overall quality of the two remaining afternoons.
The new September Meeting has been made possible by moving the previous September Tuesday raceday (which was a card dedicated to two-year-olds, races that will now be run on the new Friday card) and by streamlining the October Meeting from three days to two days on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20, the latter being Champions' Day. The Champions Day card will be unchanged, but the best races from the Thursday and Friday programmes are being retained and concentrated on the Friday card.
The only other fixture change at Newmarket is on the July Course where the Sunday fixture at the end of the July is now on Saturday, July 28.
Lisa Hancock, Newmarket Racecourses' Managing Director, said: "As a result of these changes, the NatWest Rowley Mile fixture list will become even more racegoer-friendly. Extensive market research that we have carried out in recent years has highlighted that Friday and Saturday fixtures are the most popular for the majority of our racegoers.
"We will now have seven racedays in May with racing on three out of the four weekends, while in the autumn we will have a series of four Friday/Saturday fixtures at fortnightly intervals from the end of September until the beginning of November.
"Crowds at the Craven Meeting have dwindled in recent years and the loss of all terrestrial television coverage, resulting in the withdrawal of several sponsors, was a further blow last year. Restructuring it as a two-day meeting, with the best fourteen races retained, will enhance the overall quality of this important classic trials fixture and hopefully help boost attendances on the two remaining days.
"Similarly, the best races from the old October Meeting Thursday card, for which crowds have also been poor in recent years and for which television coverage and significant sponsorship support were also lost, will enhance Fridays programme, providing a better prelude to our most valuable day of the year on Champions' Day that follows it.
"We have not undertaken these changes lightly and while a number of traditionalists will understandably be disappointed to see the Craven Meeting and October Meeting become two-day fixtures, I am certain that this will be for the benefit of our race programme as a whole. Without these changes, our prize money would undoubtedly have suffered."
Newmarket Fixtures 2007
NatWest Rowley Mile
Day Date Title First Race Code
Wednesday 18th Craven Meeting 14.00 F
Thursday 19th Craven Meeting 14.00 F
Saturday 5th Stan James Guineas Festival featuring The Stan James 2000 Guineas Group 1 14.05 F
Sunday 6th Stan James Guineas Festival featuring The Stan James 1000 Guineas Group 1 13.45 F
Friday 18th Spring Fixture 14.05 F
Saturday 19th Spring Fixture 13.55 F
Friday 25th Spring Fixture 14.20 F
Saturday 26th Spring Fixture 13.55 F
Sunday 27th Spring Fixture - Countryside Race Day 14.10 F
Friday 22nd Newmarket Nights with INXS 18.00 F, E
Saturday 23rd Summer Racing 14.10 F
Friday 29th Newmarket Nights 18.00 F, E
Saturday 30th Summer Racing - The Ormistion Racing Welfare Race Day 13.50 F
Wednesday 11th Ritz Club July Festival - Classic FM Day 13.30 F
Thursday 12th Ritz Club July Festival - Ladies' Day 13.30 F
Friday 13th Ritz Club July Festival - Darley July Cup Day 13.30 F
Friday 20th Newmarket Nights 17.45 F, E
Saturday 21st Summer Racing 14.10 F
Friday 27th Newmarket Nights 17.40 F, E
Saturday 28th Summer Racing - NSPCC DAY 13.55 F
Friday 3rd Newmarket Nights with Jools Holland and His Rhythmn and Blues Orchestra 17.55 F, E
Saturday 4th Summer Racing 14.10 F
Friday 10th Newmarket Nights 17.45 F, E
Saturday 11th Summer Racing 14.00 F
Friday 17th Newmarket Nights 17.25 F, E
Saturday 18th Summer Racing - Newmarket Experience Day 13.50 F
Friday 24th Summer Racing 13.40 F
Saturday 25th Summer Racing - British Legion Poppy Race Day 13.45 F
NatWest Rowley Mile
Friday 21st Autumn Racing 14.00 F
Saturday 22nd Autumn Racing 14.10 F
Thursday 4th Cambridgeshire Meeting 14.00 F
Friday 5th Cambridgeshire Meeting 13.45 F
Saturday 6th Cambridgeshire Meeting totesport Cambridgeshire Day 13.55 F
Friday 19th Champions' Meeting Throughbred Breeders Association Day 13.30 F
Saturday 20th Champions' Day 13.30 F
Friday 2nd Final Meeting 12.50 F
Saturday 3rd Final Meeting 12.35 F
Craven Meeting Race Programme 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
1. 3yo 10f Class 4 Maiden Stakes £8,000
2. 2yo 5f Class 3 Conditions Stakes £10,000
3. 3yo 7f Class 1 European Free Handicap Stakes (Listed ) £30,000
4. 3yo 7f Class 1 Shadwell Nell Gwynn Stakes (Group 3) £50,000
5. 3yo 9f Class 1 Feilden Stakes (Listed) £28,000
6. 3yo 7f Class 4 Alex Scott Maiden Stakes £8,000
7. 3yo 6f Class 2 81-100 Handicap Stakes £18,000
Total Prize Money £152,000
Thursday, April 19, 2007
1. 3yo 8f Class 4 Wood Ditton Maiden Stakes £10k
2. 2yo 5f Class 4 Wyck Hall Stud Fillies Maiden Stakes £7k
3. 3yo+ 6f Class 1 Abernant Stakes (Listed) £28k
4. 3yo 8f Class 1 Craven Stakes (Group 3) £50k
5. 4yo+ 9f Class 1 Weatherbys Earl of Sefton Stakes (Group 3) £50k
6. 3yo 7f Class 4 Rossdales Fillies Maiden Stakes £8k
7. 3yo 10f Class 3 81-95 Handicap Stakes £14k