Prize-money in Britain to reach record £160m in 2018
The BHA has revealed that prize-money in Britain is forecast to reach a record £160 million next year, an increase of £17m from 2017.
With the previously announced £8m central levy funding boost for grassroots racing and increased contributions by racecourses, owners and competitors will be on the receiving end of all-time high levels.
Racecourses are forecast to contribute an extra £9m to take their input to £84m next year.
Following a three-year agreement between the BHA, Racecourse Association and members of the Horsemen's Group, there will be increased levy funding for prize-money starting from January 1 and primarily targeting the middle and lower tiers of the sport.
A large proportion of races will now have a minimum prize pot of £6,000, while the sport's new appearance money scheme becomes active from New Year's Day.
The scheme involves qualifying races introducing payments of at least £300 on the Flat and £350 over jumps for horses finishing between fifth and eighth place. As well as improving the return to owners at the middle and lower tiers, it aims to increase the number of races with at least eight runners to make them more attractive to punters.
Racecourses have the opportunity to unlock the extra prize-money funding by investing their own revenues into prize-money and reaching minimum threshold values.
BHA chief executive Nick Rust said: "It is very important for all those involved in our sport that we are due to see such significant prize-money increases in 2018.
"Although there has been a gradual recovery in total prize-money in recent years driven by increased investment from racecourses, the returns to our sport’s owners and participants have not been sufficient, in particular to those who are not competing at the top echelons.
Year Prize-money (£)
2017 143,000,000 (estimated)
2018 160,000,000 (forecast)
"The support we received from the government and, indeed, all political parties in establishing the new levy has been crucial and means that we can target support towards those operating at the racing’s grassroots.
"The increased prize-money on offer in 2018 does not resolve the sport’s prize-money situation outright, but it is a step in the right direction.
"We hope that this good news will serve as an incentive to racehorse owners who are thinking of putting horses in training, and provide a timely boost to jockeys, trainers and stable staff, who rely in part on prize-money for their livelihoods."
The Racehorse Owners Association, while welcoming the news, is pushing for more financial flow to the lower end of the sport.
Charlie Liverton, ROA chief executive, said: "This is a positive start, but there must be a continued effort from all in the industry to focus on securing more prize-money at lower levels for the benefit of all horsemen.
"The findings of the national racehorse owners' survey showed how costs and prize-money were the primary reasons for owners to either lapse their involvement or not invest further in to the sport.
"The new appearance money scheme therefore should go some way to help alleviate those costs and reward owners whose horses race at the grassroots level."
Rupert Arnold, chief executive of the National Trainers Federation, said: "This is a major boost to trainers. We welcome especially the injection on funds into the grassroots of racing as it is at that level that so many horsemen are finding it hard to sustain a livelihood.
"We hope it helps to encourage more owners into the sport and therefore the number of horses in trainers' yards."
Dale Gibson, an executive director of the Professional Jockeys Association, added: "With an increased fixture list and therefore workload for horsemen and women next year, particularly for those at the sharp end, the additional funding injection is vital to everyone who derives their living from the sport.
"However, there remains more to be achieved in the longer term given the demands the fixture list is placing on jockeys, stable staff and trainers."
For the Racecourse Association, RCA chief executive Stephen Atkin said: "The forecast growth in prize-money would not be possible without racecourses increasing their executive contributions to record levels, so credit must go to them, and we hope this investment will benefit the sport."
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