King hits out at Cheltenham prize-money increase

Uxizandre was Alan King's last Cheltenham Festival winner in 2015

PICTURE: EDWARD WHITAKER King hits out at festival prize-money increase By Racing Post Staff 3:46PM 12 JAN 2017

ALAN KING has questioned whether increasing prize-money at this year's Cheltenham Festival was really needed.

There will be record prize-money up for grabs at the 2017 Festival after an increase of £190,000 was announced last week, taking total prizes to £4,305,000 for the four-day fixture.

Writing in his Racing Post Weekender column, King said: "I see that Cheltenham has announced an increase in prize-money at the festival, but I have to ask whether that is necessary.

"We need to look at where the funds are going and the extra purses will make no difference whatsoever at Cheltenham, just as having a £1 million Grand National is a complete nonsense. You'd get the same field at Aintree if the race was worth £500,000 and what's the point of boosting prizes at the festival? Hundreds of horses get balloted out already."

Instead King suggests the sport should be focusing on increasing prize-money further down the ladder and points to the funds for recent Grade 1 novice hurdles as particularly poor.

"There was a Grade 1 at Naas last Sunday worth €53,000 to the winner, but we were running around for just £22,00 in the Challow Hurdle. Races like that and the Tolworth should be worth more. It makes it even worse that the winners get Grade 1 penalties to make it harder for them in the future."

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