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David Ashforth's Column: Prize-money falling sharply.

ARC weekend still glitters, but the gold has turned to gold plate. While the prize-money for Group races in Britain and Ireland, the USA and Dubai keeps rising, in France, it keeps falling.

Ten years ago, Agent Bleu won the Group 2 Ciga Prix Dollar, and with it pounds 43,824. Madame Dubois' connections picked up pounds 40,863 for winning the Group 2 Ciga Prix de Royallieu. Yesterday, the same Group 2 races offer the winners pounds 28,818 each.

That is a big drop and one that afflicts virtually every race at Longchamp this weekend. The Group 2 Prix du Rond-Point has slumped from pounds 52,487 to pounds 38,425; the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac from pounds 85,745 to pounds 76,849; and the much-loved Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye from pounds 75,027 to a disappointing pounds 48,031.

First prize for the Prix de l'Opera has gone up from pounds 56,667 to pounds 67,243, but the race has also been promoted to Group 1 status. The Arc itself offers only marginally more than 10 years ago-pounds 576,369 compared to pounds 535,906.

The Group 3 Prix Gladiateur, formerly run on the Saturday and worth pounds 25,565, was run on September 5, for pounds 21,134. The Group 1 Grand Criterium will be run next Sunday, for pounds 96,061; 10 years ago, it was worth pounds 128,617.

The exchange rate has moved in favour of the pound, now worth Ff10.41 compared with Ff9.33 in 1990, but inflation more than takes account of that. It is still a luring occasion but, seen from the viewpoint of prize- money, Arc weekend has slipped badly.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Ashforth, David
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2000
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