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Prize-money to rise from September as fixture list is published for rest of year

Prize-money levels have been criticised since racing resumed in June
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Prize-money levels, which have been criticised since racing returned in June after suspension, will be boosted from September 1 by an injection of funding from the Levy Board.

The news means the BHA has been able to publish a revised fixture list for the last four months of the year largely consistent with the schedule originally published in July last year.

From September 1, minimum values will increase at all levels, with the middle and grassroots tiers of British racing returning to their pre-Covid levels, while they will become 75 per cent of their pre-suspension levels for Class 1 races and heritage Handicaps. Appearance money will also be reintroduced.

Funding will come from a rise in the Levy Board's contribution to £26.6 million over the four months, a 50 per cent increase on the original allocation of £17.7m.

In addition, all racecourses will return to making executive contributions towards the prize-money of every race programmed.

Racecourses had not been obliged to make a contribution to prize-money after the resumption of British racing after lockdown as their income had been hit by the lack of paying crowds, but the move had caused friction with the Horsemen's Group which had led to a delay in the publication of fixtures for the last four months of the year.

The current prize-money rate card will apply to the end of August.

Richard Wayman: "owners have displayed great patience"

BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman said: "As we enter the autumn and racehorse owners begin to make their plans for 2021, this increase in minimum prize-money across all levels from September is a critical part of the sport’s recovery plans.

"Owners have displayed great patience in recent months and it is crucial that prize-money grows at all levels as quickly as possible.

"Whilst there is a long way to go, the increase in minimum values together with the re-introduction of the appearance money scheme are clearly steps in the right direction."

Levy Board chairman Paul Darling said the body's increase in its contribution to prize-money would provide "confidence and certainty" to owners and the sport's participants, and thanked bookmakers for their prompt payment of funds and provision of data.

Paul Darling: urged racing's groups to develop a clear position on prize-money

However, he warned: "It must be emphasised that our enhanced level of contribution to prize-money cannot continue indefinitely. We are drawing significantly on reserves to make possible this exceptional level of support. 

"We now urge racing's various parties to focus on developing a clear and sustainable position as regards prize-money from early 2021, as we would anticipate our own contribution reverting to closer to its normal level at that time."

The revised fixture list from September to December includes 460 fixtures compared with 455 in the original list.

Meetings will generally comprise seven programmed races, with one race permitted to divide. However, all participants will be allowed to attend only one race meeting on any day.

A maximum of five fixtures will take place on any day and the fixture list between Christmas and new year, including the eight fixtures provisionally scheduled to take place on Boxing Day, will be reviewed nearer the time.

Wayman added: "We have learnt a lot from a number of the fixture innovations that were put in place as part of the emergency fixture list, some of which will continue for the remainder of the year. 

"Others may return in the future but it is evident that the return to a more familiar fixture list, at least for now, will provide a boost to industry revenues, particularly as we look forward to crowds returning to racecourses later in the year.

"This has only been possible due to the Levy Board significantly increasing its support of prize-money compared with its original plans, and we would like to express our gratitude for their approach as we seek to plot a long-term course for our sport to recover from its current challenges."

Arena Racing Company said neither Brighton or Worcester would race again this year but they would reopen in 2021.

Read more:

'Keeping nice horses in Britain makes no sense' - John Quinn warns of heavy toll

'Owners are being treated like schoolboys' - Kelleway hits out at racecourses

'Racecourses need to wake up': Michael Dods demands better service for owners

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This increase in minimum prize-money levels across all levels from September is a critical part of the sport’s recovery plans
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