In the most exciting development within the Stayers’ programme for many years, Weatherbys Hamilton has announced a new initiative to celebrate, support and promote the staying horse – an animal that has defined the European thoroughbred for the last three hundred years.
The WH Stayers’ Million is a prize of £1 million that will be awarded to the connections of a horse that having won one of four recognised prep races in May, then goes on to win the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June, the Qatar Goodwood Cup in July and the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York’s Ebor Festival in August.
The £1 million would be split between the connections of the successful horse, with 70% awarded to the owner and 30% divided equally between the trainer, stable staff, breeder and jockey.
The origins of thoroughbred racing are founded on the Stayer with the original match races often taking place over extended distances. The legendary Eclipse (foaled in 1764), features in almost all the pedigrees of the modern thoroughbred and he habitually raced at distances of three to four miles.
Despite the recent trend towards breeding more precocious horses for shorter distances, it is the Stayers who remain for many the real Trojans of the turf. Their battles over nearly two miles or more have made magnificent spectacles and live long in the memory. Many feel that it is imperative for the health and diversity of the European thoroughbred that these bloodlines are perpetuated and cherished. It is hoped that the WH Stayers’ Million will help rekindle the fortunes of the Stayer.
The races that comprise the WH Stayers’ Million have been won by horses whose names still resonate through their heroism, their toughness and the longevity of their careers;
Le Moss, Double Trigger, Sagaro, Ardross and Yeats to name a few. More recently, who can forget the scenes surrounding the Queen’s Estimate winning the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2013 or the epic battle between Big Orange and Order of St George in the same race last year.
Weatherbys Hamilton is an insurance broker that specialises in the insurance of horses, as well as houses, farms and estates. Its reputation is founded on knowledge and exceptional service. The object of The WH Stayers’ Million is to emphasise the great spectacle of staying races and encourage breeders and owners to continue producing and racing the type of horse on which the thoroughbred was founded.
Charles Hamilton, Chief Executive of Weatherbys Hamilton said:
“We are very excited about The WH Stayers’ Million and hope that it will be as enthusiastically received by owners, breeders, trainers and the industry as a whole. It would be thrilling if a horse can come to York in August with the chance to win the seven figure prize and in doing so underline just how important the Stayers are to racing. If the unique diversity of European racing is to be maintained, it is vital that these horses are encouraged and I very much hope that the WH Stayers’ Million can be a talisman for that cause.”
Nick Rust, Chief Executive, British Horseracing Authority said:
“This is a superb initiative which the BHA supports wholeheartedly. Not only will it create a fascinating and exciting story and an interesting extra dimension to the Flat season, it will also provide yet another incentive to own and train a staying horse here in Britain. We are investing heavily in this area at the moment and it is essential that we do all we can to ensure that stayers are being bred in this country, and when they are bred, that they remain here to race.”
John Gosden, Racehorse Trainer said:
“This an exciting and very welcome initiative for the Stayers’ programme which is so important to our racing and breeding industry.”
Aidan O’Brien, Racehorse Trainer said:
“It’s great that Weatherbys Hamilton is supporting the Stayers’ programme with this exciting initiative. I’m sure that it will generate plenty of interest for this race division that is so important to the sport.”
William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at York Racecourse, said:
“We are delighted to be part of the WH Stayers’ Million with both the Yorkshire Cup as one of the four preliminary races and the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup as the anchor leg of what would be a truly remarkable sequence. The prospect of the leading stayer of the season coming to the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival with a live chance of collecting not only the prize fund but a £1m bonus would be a tremendously exciting prospect for everyone with an interest in horseracing.”
Montaly ridden by P.J. McDonald narrowly wins from Dartmouth ridden by Ryan Moore, The Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes (Group 2) at York Racecourse . Copyright: Mark Cranham