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Owners' chief Cooper supports move to bolster grassroots

Nicholas Cooper: 'More money for the middle and bottom end of racing'
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Racehorse Owners Association president Nicholas Cooper has backed initiatives to boost the grassroots of British racing through the extra funds generated from the reform of the levy.

He told the organisation's annual general meeting at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel in London on Tuesday that the government's reforms were "the best thing that's happened in racing politics for more than half a century".

A new Racing Authority is expected to take over spending decisions from the Levy Board next year.

"With this privilege comes responsibility," Cooper said. "We must ensure there is proper governance and visibility of the authority’s intended actions and decisions. We must also ensure we comply with the government’s wishes to improve the grassroots of the sport.

'A major initiative'

"It is with this in mind that a major initiative will be implemented early next year that will set out to benefit the small, everyday owners and the numerous trainers, jockeys and stable staff who mainly operate on the domestic level of racing."

Around £8 million is expected to be targeted at the middle and lower tiers of British racing with prize-money paid down to eighth place, boosting values to a minimum of £6,000 and the minimum value to winners by 20 per cent to 30 per cent.

Cooper added: "It means more money directed at the middle and bottom end of racing where, now, many owners win little or no prize-money and therefore have nothing to cushion their substantial costs."

The ROA president also offered an olive branch to bookmakers.

He said: "With the imminent demise of the Levy Board, it is very important to establish betting industry representation within racing. We must learn from them as they must learn from us.

'Our sport's survival is dependent on betting'

"We must never forget that our sport’s very survival is dependent on betting and establishing strong lines of communication that should allow us to increase racing’s betting turnover."

Cooper also backed Britain's racecourses' plan to launch a rival to the Tote when Betfred's exclusive licence expires next year, despite knowing "it might go against the grain to see racecourses putting together a consortium to launch a pool betting operation".

He added: "In reality, a racecourse consortium, albeit one without probably Ascot, Chester, Bangor and Chelmsford, is probably the most expedient way the racing industry can achieve its long-term goal of gaining ownership rights over a large section of the pool betting market, while delivering the all-important liquidity."

We must also ensure we comply with the government’s wishes to improve the grassroots of the sport
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