- Britain's Royal Ascot increases prize money to record $7.5 million
- Prestigious English track attracts royalty and celebrity guests
- But despite prestige, Ascot still lags behind world in prize money
- World's richest racing event, Dubai World Cup, offers $27 million
Britain's prestigious Royal Ascot has increased its prize money to a record $7.5 million, in an effort to attract the top race horses from around the world.
The country's premier five-day racing festival -- home to Queen Elizabeth's namesake race, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes -- has boosted its prize money by a whopping $756,750 on last year.
The world-renowned meeting, which attracts a "who's who" list of royal and celebrity guests, will now also honor Prince William with a race named after him.
But despite the prestige associated with Ascot, its prize money still lags behind the rest of the world.
The richest horse racing event on the planet, the Dubai World Cup, kicks off later this month with a total prize pool of $27 million, for nine group races.
Similarly, the U.S. Breeders' Cup races offer combined prize money of $25 million, while France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has a purse of $12.6 million.
"We have seen some remarkable racing at Ascot in recent years and whilst the importance of winning at Royal Ascot both in terms of prestige and in value to the bloodstock industry can't be denied, increasing prize money is equally crucial to attracting the best horses to run in a highly competitive market," Ascot chief executive Charles Barnett said.
"It is very important to us to have a significant minimum amount on offer, and we have set that at £60,000 ($90,700)."
It may not offer the same cash as other international competitions, but Royal Ascot last year attracted the top four rated race horses in the world -- Frankel, Cirrus Des Aigles, Black Caviar and Excelebration.
Retired British champion Frankel, who won 14 races on the trot, chose Royal Ascot's Champion Stakes to make his final appearance, drawing a sellout crowd of 32,000.
Australian super mare Black Caviar, who remains unbeaten in a remarkable 23 consecutive races, made her Ascot debut with a nailbiting win in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
That flagship race remains capped at $756,750 -- compared to $10 million for Dubai's premier World Cup race -- but prize purses for the St James's Palace stakes and Coronation Stakes will rise from $378,000 to $530,000 each. The total prize money on offer at Ascot throughout 2013 is now just over $20 million.
This year Queen Elizabeth's grandson William, who is expecting his first child with wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, will have extra reason to celebrate after the Windsor Forest Stakes was renamed the Duke of Cambridge Stakes in his honor.
Pomp and pageantry define the historic track, with the royal family arriving each June in a lavish horse-drawn carriage.
So highly regarded is tradition and decorum at Ascot, that last year organizers even had dress code administrators on hand to assess the thousands of people who descend on the Berkshire venue -- with a strict list of dos and don'ts issued to prevent standards slipping.
The Royal Enclosure, where Her Majesty watches all five days of the meeting, is where the most stringent regulations are enforced -- including a ban on the widely popular fascinator headpieces.