MASSIVE increases in prize- money have been announced for the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival from 19-21 September. The total prize fund for 2013 is £587,000 – up £150,900 from last year and a 35 per cent increase year on year.
The William Hill Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday 21 September is worth £155,000 compared to £120,000 in 2012 and, on the same card, two supporting races each boast £60,000 prizes – the Doonside Cup, a Listed Race which last year was run for £35,000 and the Firth Of Clyde Stakes (£40,000 in 2012).
The Silver Cup has £50,000 on offer as opposed to £35,000 last year and the total Saturday money is £400,000 – up from £291,000. The third of the major sprints, the Bronze Cup, is raced for on the Friday and carries a fund of £35,000 (£25,000).
Ayr Racecourse chairman Alan Macdonald said: “I am delighted to announce this rise in prize-money for Scotland’s premier flat fixture of the season. It shows our commitment to keeping this Festival at the top end of the racing calendar. The William Hill Ayr Gold Cup continues to be the richest sprint handicap in Europe and, by boosting the prize for the Doonside Cup, we hope to attract some quality horses.”
Meanwhile, Professional Jockeys Association chief executive Paul Struthers will ask the British Horseracing Authority not to reciprocate any ban given to Martin Dwyer by the Royal Western Indian Turf Club after his latest appeal has been heard.
The Derby-winning jockey was initially given a suspension of nearly two months earlier this year after he finished a narrow third on market leader Ice Age in Division One of the Ice Magic Plate at Mahalaxmi racecourse in Mumbai on 17 February, prompting an angry response from racegoers. A head-on video of the race showed Ice Age appearing to drift towards the rail in the closing stages, bumping the eventual runner-up and causing Dwyer to snatch up his mount. The RWITC stewards called an inquiry and announced the horse was to be deemed a non-starter, with all bets refunded.
At the time, Dwyer suggested his mount was not moving correctly and suffered a nosebleed. Dwyer contested the initial length of the ban, with the result being it has been increased to eight months.
Dwyer said on Monday evening he intends to appeal. “I was shocked enough, but nowhere near as shocked as Martin was,” Struthers told At The Races. “We’ve said all along in our view the video speaks for itself. He had his appeal and it was a very fair hearing and then it went back to the stewards.
“Martin heard yesterday afternoon that they had not just not upheld his ban, they’ve actually increased it to eight months. Staggering is not the word really. What this effectively was was a rehearing and, when that happens, there is always a chance the punishment could increase, but the bottom line was there was no new evidence presented so they were going solely by the video.
“We thought very strongly that the video spoke for itself and the worst Martin was guilty of was careless or reckless or dangerous riding at its absolute worst. He’s got a right of appeal for this hearing so he has to go through that process because in order for the British Horseracing Authority not to reciprocate the ban, he has to exhaust his options in India first. He’s got 72 hours to get that appeal in, which he will.”
The BHA has clarified its standing on the matter, admitting its hands are effectively tied until Dwyer has exhausted all avenues of appeal in India.