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Prize-money row deepens as ROA chief accuses racecourses of ignoring owners

Charlie Liverton: "Racecourses must work for this sport, not the other way around"
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A war of words between horsemen and racecourses over prize-money has escalated, with Racehorse Owners Association chief executive Charlie Liverton accusing the Racecourse Association of losing sight of "the importance of our sport’s participants".

Liverton was responding to a letter from his counterpart at the RCA  in Sunday's edition of the Racing Post, in which David Armstrong accused the Horsemen's Group of not recognising how badly racecourses had been hit by the Covid-19 crisis.

Armstrong's comments had in turn been sparked by a letter sent to the RCA by the Horsemen's Group, which accused the racecourse trade body of collusion and anti-competitive practices following the "unilateral decision" to cease racecourse executive contributions to prize-money in light of the sport's shutdown.

Those claims were described as "entirely false" by Armstrong, who said the RCA had replied to the Horsemen’s Group "in the strongest terms".

He had concluded: "We believe that the RCA and the horsemen can achieve a great deal more by co-operating and understanding each other than by legal correspondence and negative publicity."

But in a message to his members on Monday evening, Liverton said the ROA, alongside other members of the Horsemen's Group, would continue "to hold the racecourses to account for their continued lack of contribution to prize-money and transparency on income distribution in our sport".

He added: "Mr Armstrong’s letter has exposed – once again – the purely commercial self-interest of racecourses and their lack of appreciation for those across racing that contribute so much to this sport."

Liverton claimed racing’s participants had lost more than £30 million in prize-money during the Covid-19 crisis while owners had contributed more than £64m in training fees alone in the same period, adding: "Racecourses must work for this sport, not the other way around."

He continued: "Racing cannot operate in the interests of all its participants and to protect the future of this industry without transparency from racecourses.

"The RCA has lost sight of the importance of our sport’s participants. As participants, we have repeatedly pushed for transparency around racecourse income. Needless to say, this information has not been forthcoming."

British racing resumed at the start of June with an emergency ten-week fixture list following the shutdown caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

The Levy Board is providing funding amounting to £16.4m for prize-money during the ten-week period with racecourse contributions much reduced after their income dried up during the shutdown, although Armstrong said Jockey Club Racecourses and Ascot had contributed approximately £2.3m towards prize-money between them.

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Mr Armstrong’s letter has exposed the purely commercial self-interest of racecourses and their lack of appreciation for those across racing
E.W. Terms