Call for pro-competitive merit system to boost British racing

12th June 2014

Market Rasen is one of The Jockey Club's 15 racecourses

Market Rasen is one of The Jockey Club's 15 racecourses

The Jockey Club today outlined the fundamental principles of the response it will submit to the British Horseracing Authority by 1st July 2014 following the launch of the 2015 Fixture List consultation process.

Governed by Royal Charter to act solely for the long-term good of British racing, The Jockey Club will propose a pro-competitive merit model that encourages those seeking to stage annually-allocated fixtures to invest in growing the sport in return for the reward of such leasehold fixtures. It has called for this consistently.

The Jockey Club is seeking the 2015 Fixture List process to achieve an optimum outcome for the sport as a whole, rather than an unsatisfactory compromise of various self-interests. The forward-looking, effective and transparent merit-based system it will propose in its submission to the BHA will act as a catalyst for extra investment and sustainable growth throughout British racing, boosting the sport’s long-term health and creating further incentives to encourage positive behaviour by all types of racecourse enterprises. It demands more of racecourses than the ‘simple bid’, ‘historic commitment’ or ‘balanced scorecard’ proposals in their current form in the consultation document.

British racing’s largest commercial group recognises the critical importance of creating a 2015 Fixture List that takes a responsible approach towards the current size of the horse population. Collectively, racing must develop measures to simultaneously optimise field sizes in the medium and long-term; protect and enhance the returns for the competitors; and deliver compelling and competitive racing for customers, punters and viewers to enjoy.

Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, said:

“British racing has an opportunity from the 2015 Fixture List onwards to incentivise and reward behaviour that contributes to the sustainable growth and long-term health of the sport.

“We have a simple choice. We can continue to gift fixtures to those who put the least back into the sport because they have insufficient incentives to invest in their core programme[1], just in the extra leasehold fixtures they seek to cherry-pick. Or we can create a merit system that closes loopholes and rewards racecourses who will return the most value back into the sport as a whole.

“It’s self-help; you are investing to unlock rewards such as additional fixtures in the process and your investments are helping the sport to succeed, so that soon there are more rewards to go around. Follow it through and we are talking better prize money, more horses, larger fields, increased media revenues, more competitive racing, bigger crowds, boosted betting turnover and so on.

“By incentivising positive behaviour, it starts to raise the whole sport up to a higher level, rather than playing to the lowest common denominator. This model incentivises all commercial enterprises to grow the cake, not just cut it up and eat it. It’s a level playing-field, a catalyst for growth and a model fit for the 21st Century.”

Notes to Editors
The Jockey Club published a blog post on the importance of meritocracy in British racing in September 2013.

In 2013, racecourses contributed 43 percent of total prize money in British racing. Last year Jockey Club Racecourses accounted for 38 percent of all racecourses’ contribution to prize money from staging 25 percent of fixtures. The 15-strong racecourse group offered 70 percent more prize money per fixture on average than the rest of the industry[2].

Over the last ten years, The Jockey Club has invested more than £300m into British racing through prize money contributions and facilities for customers and participants. In the last five years, The Jockey Club has increased its industry-leading contribution to prize money from its own resources by 47 percent to a record £18.24m in 2013 from a then record £12.4m in 2009.

By rescuing and turning around racecourses and through fixture acquisition and swaps with other racecourses, The Jockey Club has a proven track record in developing and enhancing its fixture assets. The quality and profile of the current fixture portfolio at Jockey Club Racecourses is a product of its careful management and significant investment strategy in the sport's feature days, which has proved important for British racing’s appeal and international competitiveness.

The Jockey Club recognises macro-economic factors have had the biggest negative impact on the size of the horse population in recent years and therefore field sizes. Its approach to has been to invest to positively influence field sizes as much as is within its power – through industry-leading prize money levels, investment in racing surfaces and the experience it provides to horsemen. In 2013, average field sizes across Jockey Club Racecourses’ Jumps programme were 9.4 runners per race compared to an average of 8.7 for the rest of the industry[3]. Similarly, its 2013 Flat fixtures attracted 9.3 runners per race compared to 8.9 elsewhere. While there remains much work to be done as an industry, this is evidence that The Jockey Club’s investment approach pays dividends.

In September 2013, The Jockey Club signed up to The Horsemen’s Group Prize Money Agreements at the Premier level for its 15-strong racecourse group. This Premier status was achieved on account of The Jockey Club’s track record of contribution and its commitment to inject into prize money at least 40 percent of any betting-related media growth over the term of the agreement.

References

[1] The majority – 86 percent – of British racing’s fixtures are ‘core programme’ vs 14 percent leaseholds; in 2014 there are 201 leasehold fixtures from 1,464 total fixtures

[2] Jockey Club Racecourses’ 2013 average prize money per fixture was £115k (£41.6m from 361 fixtures) vs £68k (£72.7m from 1,070 fixtures) industry average prize money per fixture minus JCR fixtures

[3] Industry average field size in 2013 minus JCR races; calculated from BHA data

About The Jockey Club
The Jockey Club has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years. Today the largest commercial group in the sport (2013 turnover: £166.9m), The Jockey Club runs the largest racecourse group in the UK by turnover (2013: £158.7m), courses (15) including those at Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs and Newmarket, attendances (2013: 1.74m), total prize money (2013: £41.6m), contribution to prize money (2013: £18.24m) and quality racing (Group and Graded races); more than 3,000 acres of world-class training grounds in Newmarket and Lambourn; The National Stud breeding enterprise and educationprovider; and the charity for racing's people in need, Racing Welfare. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny The Jockey Club makes it puts back into British racing. More information is available at www.thejockeyclub.co.uk.