Cheltenham's new season gets underway in 15 days' time with The Showcase taking place on Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27.
The Showcase offers record prize money of £370,400 across the two days - a boost of £51,400 (16 per cent) on the £319,000 in 2017. The increase is part of the £8-million cash injection announced by The Jockey Club in December of last year.
In total, there is an extra £100,000 in prize money on offer at the Home of Jump Racing between October and December this year. The prize money increases mean that no race at Cheltenham for professional jockeys is now worth less than £15,000.
The biggest boosts at The Showcase apply to the two Randox Health-sponsored handicap chases run on Saturday, October 26.
The two contests (one run over two miles and the other over three miles and a furlong) both have a total prize fund of £60,000 (up from £50,000 in 2017).
The details of the increases at The November Meeting (Friday, November 16 to Sunday, November 18 inclusive) and The International (Friday and Saturday, December 14 and 15) will be announced closer to the time.
Another change for the new season is that prize money for all Cheltenham races will now extend to the first eight horses home, as opposed to the first six as was previously the case.
Prize money will now be distributed on following basis:
1st 61.9 per cent
2nd 18.4 per cent
3rd 9.2 percent
4th 4.6 per cent
5th 2.3 per cent
6th 1.2 per cent
7th 0.6 per cent
8th 0.3 per cent
An exciting innovation across The Jockey Club Cheltenham & the South West Region for the 2018/19 season is more races for graduates of pony racing. They will now happen at all four of the courses in the region - Cheltenham, Exeter, Warwick and Wincanton - during the winter and spring of the 2018/19 campaign.
These races will be sponsored by Winner Events and culminate in a final at The April Meeting at Cheltenham in 2019.
Pony racing has gone from strength to strength since the establishment of The Pony Racing Authority in 2007 and has provided a valuable education for many professional and amateur jockeys.
In 2017, 185 jockeys holding a BHA licence to ride or a Rider Certificate started out in pony racing. These jockeys have come from a variety of backgrounds, including those from racing, those with the wider equestrian world and those with no links to racing or equestrianism.
Pony racing graduate James Bowen was crowned Stobart Champion Conditional Jockey during the 2017/18 campaign, while five of the top 10 conditional jockeys last season all began their careers in Pony Racing.
In addition, three of the top 10 riders in the 2017/18 Stobart Jump Jockeys Championship were pony racing graduates - Sam Twiston-Davies, Sean Bowen and Harry Cobden.
Clarissa Daly, Chief Executive, Pony Racing Authority, said: "I am delighted that The Jockey Club South West Region is to host a total of four pony racing graduate races over the course of this season.
"The previous race at Cheltenham has always been really well-supported by our graduates and I am sure the whole series will continue to be.
"My thanks also go to Winner Events for sponsoring the races."
Really Super on course for The Showcase
Really Super (trained by Amy Murphy) enjoyed a fine summer over hurdles and the four-year-old filly is set to make her next appearance at The Showcase.
The daughter of Cacique was runner-up in a novices' hurdle at Worcester in July before going on to annex two handicap hurdles over two and a half miles at the same venue in August and September.
Connections now have their eye on the £15,400 Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle, which takes place over two miles and five furlongs on day one of The Showcase, Friday, October 26.
Stefan Fellows, a managing partner of owners White Diamond Racing, reported: "Really Super is in very good form at home and Amy Murphy has been very happy with her since her latest win at Worcester.
"All being well, the plan is to run her in the Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle, the 0-140 handicap on the Friday of The Showcase.
"That race is another step up and, off a mark of 122, it will be a tough ask for her to land the hat-trick, but we have been delighted with her progress this season and she deserves a tilt at this race at the best racetrack in the country.
"We bought Really Super out of Ralph Beckett's yard in October, 2017, and she ran some creditable races on her first few starts for us.
"However, stepping up in trip to two and a half miles really seems to have been the making of her and Amy and jockey Jack Quinlan have done a great job.
"We have started riding her just off the pace and that seems to have had the desired effect and we've also given her four weeks in between her races, which has also worked out nicely.
"We always knew she had ability and she seems to have strengthened up over time. Her hurdling has improved and she has matured physically.
"She is only a four-year-old so hopefully there should be more improvement to come.
"It is very special for us to have a runner at Cheltenham. We put a lot of work in trying to source these horses and we have some really good members.
"It is great to have a progressive horse with lots of ability who is competing in a race at Cheltenham and we can't wait for the day out. There are a couple of shares still available in her."
Another horse that could be heading to The Showcase is Double Treasure (Jamie Snowden). Successful at The Showcase in 2017 when landing the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices' Chase over two and a half miles, the seven-year-old was subsequently seventh in the G3 BetVictor Gold Cup at The November Meeting.
This season Double Treasure, who is owned by Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick, has switched back to hurdles and gained successes over the summer in novices' hurdles at Fontwell and Newton Abbot.
Upper Lambourn-based Snowden revealed: "Double Treasure had a good break after winning at Newton Abbot in June in a valuable event over hurdles.
"Gavin Sheehan gave him a wonderful ride and I was delighted with the horse's attitude as he battled on bravely to win that race after a good leap at the last.
"We gave him a break and running either at Chepstow in the Persian War or at The Showcase looks a good place to start.
"He won at The Showcase last year and we're hopeful of a good season."
Another possible runner at The Showcase is Redicean (Alan King). The four-year-old was successful on his first three starts over hurdles at Kempton Park last season, culminating in a highly-impressive seven-length victory in the G2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle in February, before coming home sixth in the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival in March.
Trainer Alan King recently revealed that Redicean could begin his 2018/19 campaign in the £40,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle on day two of The Showcase, Saturday, October 27.
King told At The Races: "I think we are going to go straight to The Showcase with Redicean for the Masterson Holdings Hurdle.
"The ground in the Triumph was appalling. I couldn't get him back for either Aintree or Punchestown, but he has summered very well.
"The race will be against his own age group at Cheltenham and we will take it from there. He is a horse I have a lot of faith in."