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Racing Victoria has announced a $15.5 million increase in prize money for the 2017-18 season with a total of $214 million on offer.

Prize money levels at Saturday city meetings along with country fixtures have received a boost as have some feature Group One races.

The first Group One race of the season which coincides with the start of the Melbourne spring carnival, the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield on September 2, will be worth $1 million, up from $500,000 in 2016.

Other enhancements include an extra $250,000 for the Makybe Diva Stakes to $750,000, the same rise for the Underwood Stakes while the Caulfield Stakes has had a $400,000 increase to $1 million.

Three-year-olds have also been catered for with the Caulfield Guineas doubling in prize money from $1 million to $2 million, the Coolmore Stakes doubling to $1 million and the Australian Guineas receiving an extra $250,000 to $1 million.

Minimum prize money for three-year-old races at a Saturday meeting will increase to $120,000, the same level as a Listed race, as it will be for races over 2000m or further.

An extra $2000 has been added to country maidens across the board with the lowest band races, benchmark 58 grade, also receiving a $2000 boost.

Picnic racing also received a 50% increase to a minimum level of $3000.

Racing Victoria chief executive officer Giles Thompson said he didn’t want the announcement to be seen as “argy bargy” with Racing NSW following their prize money increases last year.

He said the increase was possible with wagering growth at nine per cent for the financial year and a growing pool of more than 60,000 owners.

“The financial health of our industry is strong and provides the opportunity to make sustainable investments in prize money,” Thompson said.

Racing Victoria will also follow national policy next season with equine welfare and jockey welfare benefitting with one per cent of prize money being allocated to each.

Leading trainer David Hayes said the announcement was welcome news for Victorian racehorse owners.

“We’re very lucky to be training in Victoria,” Hayes said.

“I think it’s the healthiest racing state in Australia.”

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