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Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Hannon and Haggas welcome prize-money pledge from BHA

William Haggas: thinks now is the time for racing and bookmakers to work together
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The two trainers at the centre of the most recent row over prize- money have given their full backing to the BHA's pledge to inject £8 million into prize-money at lower and middle levels.

BHA chief executive Nick Rust revealed the plans on Tuesday, the same day that the levy replacement scheme was brought into law and projected to return an extra £30 million to racing in the coming years.

Richard Hannon, who railed against the prize-money on offer at Windsor on Easter Monday, said: "I think it's excellent news and really good for racing.

"The top level is fine, and prize-money there should be strong for racing and our brand of British racing. It's the lower to middle levels, the everyday stuff, where owners need to be rewarded if they have winners and so that's great news."

He added: "Costs for owners are going up – more and more racing is at weekends and we have to pay the staff overtime and so on – and the prize-money hasn't been good enough.

"At the moment they're just putting their own money into it. Even these big sales races can be just £20,000 or something of guaranteed prize-money and the rest is stake money paid by owners, so they're playing for their own cash. It's great that they're getting to do something about it."

William Haggas, who had taken issue with a lucrative Easter Sunday card at Southwell being run for little more than £30,000, said: "They promised that if the new funding system actually happened, then they would support grassroots racing and it's terrific that now they've committed to it."

He added: "Any money that comes in at any level is welcome. The ratio of cost to reward is too wide at the moment and the sooner that can narrow the better.

"The only slight concern I have is that we don't particularly want to encourage lots of low-level racing. What lower-class racing there is should be amply rewarded and hopefully this is now what's going to happen. I think they know what they're doing and they've had this plan for a while."

Haggas also echoed Rust's sentiments that racing and bookmakers should bury the hatchet to make a success of the new scheme. "It should be a boost to everyone. Not just owners and trainers, but bookmakers as well," he said. "If we can generate more interest and more competition in races, then that has to be good for bookmakers, whatever they may say at the moment.

"They've said recently that they want to work with racing, and we want to work with them, so hopefully that can now happen."

Rust had confirmed on Tuesday that plans were being formed about the setting up of a forum between racing and bookmakers. 

The ratio of cost to reward is too wide at the moment and the sooner that can narrow the better
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