Smaller tracks to benefit from prize-money boost
Jockey Club Racecourses said it was increasing its focus on the grassroots of the sport as the group announced plans to make an executive contribution of £22.9 million towards prize-money in 2017, a year-on-year increase of £2.1m.
Total prize-money across the 15 tracks run by JCR is scheduled to exceed £45m this year, although much will depend on the government's plans for levy replacement coming to fruition from April 1.
The Jockey Club said it would be supporting the grassroots of the sport, with its seven smaller courses – Carlisle, Exeter, Huntingdon, Market Rasen, Nottingham, Warwick and Wincanton – receiving increases to their prize-money budget of more than £100,000 each. Carlisle will benefit most of that septet, receiving an extra £241,000.
The majority of the extra funding will be channelled towards jump racing, JCR said, with £1.4m of the £2.1m going to that branch of the sport.
JCR group managing director Paul Fisher said on Monday: "All levels of British racing will benefit from the prize-money increase we announce today, but I hope the clear boost for National Hunt racing and the grassroots of our sport is particularly welcome.
"The Jockey Club recognises that prize-money provides an important return for racehorse owners and is vital to the livelihoods of trainers, stable staff and jockeys. It's also essential to our sport’s competitiveness, so this is a real area of focus for us.
"In the last ten years we have contributed more than £162 million to prize-money, which has seen us work hard to put in industry-leading sums each year from our own resources, and I'm pleased we will be able to go further again this year to support the sport."
While the Jockey Club confirmed its executive contribution was ring-fenced, the overall level of prize-money at the group's courses and across British racing will depend on the replacement for the levy capturing income from offshore firms being in place from April 1.
If there was to be a delay in its introduction, or funds were not able to be accessed for some reason, then central funding for prize-money might need to be cut.
Fisher's reference to the Jockey Club's prize-money increase being a 'clear boost for National Hunt racing' will undoubtedly leave many thinking of the seemingly obvious blow to the sport the organisation delivered last month when announcing they intended to bulldoze Kempton and build an all-weather track in Newmarket.