Borders racehorse trainer Harriet Graham hits out over prize-money cut for Warwick chase

Camptown racehorse trainer Harriet Graham pictured with Aye Right in 2021 (Photo: Bill McBurnie)Camptown racehorse trainer Harriet Graham pictured with Aye Right in 2021 (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Camptown racehorse trainer Harriet Graham pictured with Aye Right in 2021 (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
​Camptown racehorse trainer Harriet Graham is lining up Aye Right for Saturday’s rearranged Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase series final south of the border at Warwick despite her disappointment at the prize money on offer being cut.

​That race was due to be run for £100,000, with £51,440 going to the winner, at Sandown Park on Saturday, but that meeting had to be abandoned due to the Surrey course being waterlogged.

Its relocation to Warwickshire has been accompanied by its prize kitty being reduced to £75,000 and Graham, a joint licence-holder with Gary Rutherford at their Stripend yard, isn’t happy about that cost-cutting.

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“I’m a little bit put off that they’ve managed to knock £25,000 off the prize fund,” she said.

“This race will probably have 14 runners and nearly every horse will have a story behind it. We’ve all run in races to get there.

“I know it is really hard to reschedule races and I know everybody at the British Horseracing Authority works really hard to do it, but it just seems a wee bit cheap. That’s just my feeling. It maybe doesn’t matter to the big trainers and owners.

“It’s a bit like premier-isation – it’s awful for small trainers and awful for small racecourses.

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“They are taking the money from the poor to give to the rich. It’s Robin Hood the wrong way round.

“I know the Jockey Club have two premier meetings on Saturday, at Kempton and Warwick, with really decent prize-money, but to me it just seems a bit cheap to take money off what is a final.

“These horses have provided entertainment for the last six or seven years – a little recognition would have been the right thing to do.”

In spite of their misgivings about the chase’s 25% prize-money discount, Graham and Rutherford are still intending taking Aye Right, an 11-year-old bay gelding owned by Melrose’s Geoff and Elspeth Adam, to Warwick rather than Kelso’s meeting the day after, though they’ve got an entry in for the Borders meeting as a back-up plan.

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“He’s still in and the plan is to go,” said Graham. “I am pleased it’s on and hopefully the weather doesn’t spoil it again.”

Aye Right is likely to be up against Good Boy Bobby, trained by Gloucestershire’s Nigel Twiston-Davies, again after losing out to the fellow 11-year-old at Chepstow in Monmouthshire in October with Borders jockey Ryan Mania riding.

If he ends up making an appearance at Warwick this weekend, it’ll be his first race since a third-place finish there, also with Mania riding, in November.

The most recent of Aye Right’s eight wins to date was at Newcastle in November 2021, with Jedburgh’s Callum Bewley riding, following another first-place finish there in 2020.

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His other prior wins were at Ayr twice and Kelso in 2019, at Kelso at the double in 2018 and at Carlisle in 2017.

Thomas Darby, Two for Gold, Sam Brown, Mill Green, Ramses de Teillee and Lord du Mesnil are among 14 other entries.

Saturday’s rescheduled chase is being screened live at

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