Winter Million: All you need to know
What is the Winter Million?
The latest innovation to revolutionise the jumps season in Britain takes place this weekend with the inaugural three-day Winter Million meeting at Lingfield Park.
The idea of the Winter Million is to provide some meaningful action for horses to test their Cheltenham Festival credentials in the middle of the season and two days of quality jumps action sandwiches an all-weather Flat card on the Saturday.
In an attempt to boost interest and the number of runners taking part, ARC Racing and Leisure (who own Lingfield) have combined with the various race sponsors to guarantee at least £1million in prize money over the three days.
All three days of the Winter Million can be watched on Sky Sports Racing and ITV and we’ll have daily ITV racing tips each day.
The highlight of the opening day is the Sovereign Handicap Hurdle, which is worth just over £52,000 to the winner. The entries are headed by last season’s Tolworth Hurdle winner METIER, who ran an encouraging race at Ascot last time.
Irish raider LUCKY MAX could bid for a four-timer in the same race, while HUNTERS CALL may attempt to build on his third in the International Hurdle in December back in handicap company.
BRAVE SEASCA made it four in a row when scoring at Warwick at the weekend and could prove to be the one to beat in the £26,000 racehorselotto.com Handicap Chase at 1.50pm, although Wetherby scorer ECLAIR D’AINEY could be snapping at the seven-year-old’s heels.
Elsewhere on the card there is a three-mile chase for novice chasers and the Winter Million Hurdle over the same distance, which could both become gruelling contests in what is likely to be testing conditions.
The Coral Winter Oaks Fillies’ Handicap looks the pick of the action on the second day of the Winter Million and there will be a maximum of 14 fillies lining up for the first prize of £51,540.
The Ed Dunlop-trained VIRGIN SNOW, third in a Newmarket Group 3 in October, is the highest-rated horse entered but she could face strong opposition from NUBLE and UMM HURAIR, who are both seeking four-timers.
There is another class two handicap over the same distance on the card and seven races in total on day two.
Undoubtedly the best day of the Winter Million meeting is the concluding Sunday and the feature Fleur De Lys Chase over 2m6f, which has a prize fund of £150,000, has attracted nine initial entries and some top-quality names.
Amongst them is Joseph O’Brien’s FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES, who scooped the Melling Chase in the spring and finished ahead of King George winner Tornado Flyer in the John Durkan when last seen. DASHEL DRASHER, WAITING PATIENTLY, BRISTOL DE MAI and ITCHY FEET are other Grade One winners who could participate.
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) April 9, 2021
BREWINUPASTORM was set to fight out the finish of the Relkeel Hurdle when last seen before falling at the last flight and could seek compensation in the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Hurdle, while Gavin Cromwell has confirmed DARVER STAR an intended runner in that race.
There have been 23 to put their names down for what could be a stamina-sapping running of the Surrey National, while there is international interest in the opener, with the German-trained ESTACAS looking to scoop the £21,124 first prize on the way to a tilt at the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.