WARRNAMBOOL'S 2016 Grand Annual Steeplechase has received a $50,000 prizemoney hike following new stakemoney levels announced by Racing Victoria on Wednesday, making the famous race a $300,000 event.
Five Warrnambool feature jumps events will enjoy an increase of $140,000 in total on 2015 prizemoney levels.
The Brierly Steeplechase and Galleywood Hurdle will both leap from $100,000 races to $125,000 events at the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival, while the Kevin Lafferty Hurdle and Thackeray Steeple in July increase from $80,000 races to $100,000.
The 2016 Victorian jumps racing season starts on Tuesday, March 8 at Warrnambool and concludes on Sunday, September 25 at Coleraine.
A total of $3.51 million in prizemoney – an increase of $510,000 on 2015 – will be on offer across 63 jumps races with a split of 42 hurdle races and 21 steeplechase races.
Warrnambool Racing Club chief executive officer Peter Downs said the new prizemoney levels were a great boost for jumps racing.
"The increase in stakes is a massive vote of confidence for jumps racing," Downs said.
"We hope, with the hefty increases across the board, we will see more horses running in jumps races next season."
Apart from increased prizemoney for feature jumps races at the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival, an additional maiden hurdle has been programmed on the middle day of the carnival, ensuring a minimum of two jumps races on each day.
Minimum prizemoney for maiden hurdles will be $25,000 and minimum stakes for rating hurdles and steeplechases are to be $30,000 in 2016.
RV manager racing operations and jumps racing Paul Bloodworth said the 2016 jumps racing program was designed to foster participation at all levels of the sport and ensure feature events were a showcase.
Warrnambool is again the most active jumping track with 16 races programmed, including six during its famous May carnival.