Jockey Club Racecourses, the UK's largest racecourse group by number of racecourses, attendances, revenues and prize money contributions, today announced that it had welcomed a record total attendance to its programme of 'racing plus music' events in 2011.
The fixtures, which saw competitive racing followed by performances from a music act such as Sir Tom Jones, Blondie, Scissor Sisters and Olly Murs, welcomed 302,032 attendees in 2011. This compares to 297,750 people in 2010.
Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses
"Our 2011 music programme has generated a seven figure (GBP) profit, which we are directing straight into our sport, in line with The Jockey Club's mission to act for the good of British horseracing.
"Despite a very tough marketplace for music festivals and events, this was our third most profitable year ever from 'racing plus music' fixtures. This follows record profits from our music programme in 2010, so it's been another fantastic year. It helps us to invest in hosting top quality racing at a time when funding sources outside our control are under real pressure."
The result is particularly pleasing for The Jockey Club's racecourse arm given reports that of 274 music festivals scheduled this year across the UK, at least 150 went bust or were cancelled due to poor ticket sales and the increasing cost of talent and production. Booking music acts also depends on those touring and available.
In 2011, The Jockey Club's 14 racecourses will contribute a record £15.7 million to prize money (prior to abandonments), which is considered the lifeblood of the sport, providing funding to owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff. This is an increase of £2.7 million on its contribution in 2010.
At the same time, the industry funding for prize money that Jockey Club Racecourses is receiving in 2011 has dropped by a third (33%, £5.5 million). This is a direct result of the current failure of the Horserace Betting Levy system, which is supposed to provide a fair value transfer from the betting industry to racing via a proportion of profits made from bets on the sport.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, had determined that racing should receive between £73.7 million and £80.8 million for the Levy Scheme running from April 2011 to April 2012. However, that figure is expected to total £57 million due to loopholes in the current system being exploited. Just three years ago, in 2008, the Levy generated £115 million for British racing.
Large and small course success
An example of 2011 success at one of The Jockey Club's large racecourses was on the July Course at Newmarket when Sir Tom Jones attracted a crowd of 21,980 for the course's most profitable music night ever in 25 years of staging them.
At one of The Jockey Club's smaller courses, Carlisle Racecourse, saw its second and third highest-ever attendances from racing followed by X-Factor star Alexandra Burke (10,572 people) and Texas (9,188 people).
Strategy for 2012
Fisher continued: "We knew 2011 was going to be a crowded marketplace, but we also wanted to give some of our smaller courses the opportunity to try music and attract some new visitors that we hope to attract back for racing. As a result we hosted more music nights this year, with a different mix of bands, courses and dates to 2010.
"For 2012, we have assessed the market, reviewed what is our most profitable mix from experience and considered the impact of major events such as Euro 2012 and the Olympic Games. As a result our music nights strategy will be 'fewer, but bigger'.
"Our biggest successes in 2010 were from Simply Red and Madness, and in 2011, Tom Jones and Blondie. These are legendary artists with established, large, loyal and commercially attractive fan bases. Attendance numbers are important, but so is spend per head on-course, the price of talent and the cost of production. To manage risk and reap maximum reward, we will be looking to secure a good proportion of similar ‘Legends’ acts for 2012."
More information on music events hosted by Jockey Club Racecourses will be updated to www.jockeyclubracecourses.com
once 2012 acts are confirmed.
 The Sunday Times