Jockey Club Racecourses (JCR), the largest racecourse group in the UK by courses, fixtures, attendances, prize money contributions and revenue, today received the backing of The Horsemen's Group for its 2011 prize money plans.
As part of the process to secure a set of Self-Funded Fixtures towards the end of 2010, the racecourse arm of The Jockey Club previously agreed with The Horsemen's Group a minimum total prize money contribution from JCR of £13.24m. JCR now plans to commit an extra £2.2m in prize money contributions, raising its direct investment to £15.4m in 2011 – a record in British racing.
The move sees JCR plan to distribute total prize money of £33.3m across its 14 racecourses, pending the outcome of the 50th Levy Scheme Determination. With 366 programmed fixtures in 2011, this would equate to £91k per fixture, before abandonments.
As a result, The Horsemen's Group, encouraged that JCR is adhering to the principles of its 2011 prize money Tariff by injecting a greater amount of prize money into British racing, welcomed the move as "excellent news for all those Horsemen involved in Racing.”
Due to a dramatic decline in funding, the Horserace Betting Levy Board prize money allocation for 2011 (circa £34m) is 35% down compared to 2010 (circa £52m). JCR's increased prize money contribution in 2011 means the total prize money drop at its courses will now be 8.8%*.
Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club and Chairman of Jockey Club Racecourses, said: "The Jockey Club reinvests our profits back into British racing as part of our deep, ongoing commitment to the sport. Despite the challenges we all faced in 2010, we were able to contribute a record amount to prize money.
"Now, we intend to raise our own contribution to £15.4m, which will require us to achieve the revenue targets we have set for our business in 2011 from ticket sales, sponsorship, media rights and hospitality. As part of this planning process we have consulted with the Horsemen's Group. That would take our total prize money to around £3m more than the total the Horsemen's Tariff asks for when modelled across our group.
"This extra money will mean that we meet the Tariff in a significantly higher number of races, but the only way we would be able to meet the Tariff for every race would be to redistribute our entire prize money programme and significantly reduce the value of some of the world's most iconic races.
"Aside from reducing the competitiveness and reputation of those fixtures, such a move would result in a major reduction in the prize money JCR can invest, particularly as a result of prize money-linked sponsorship deals. Our racing department and management have spent years working on a programme that generates the maximum level of commercial return from our assets. It's one of the key reasons why we can afford to reinvest so much back into prize money.
"In our discussions, the Horsemen's Group has appreciated this, so we have agreed that the most appropriate act for the good of British racing is to raise our 2011 prize money investment by a further £2.2m beyond our last agreement. This will be spread across our whole race programme to benefit Horsemen at all levels of the sport and is the absolute maximum contribution we can make."
Paul Dixon, Chairman of The Horsemen's Group, said: "The Horsemen's Group is pleased at the way The Jockey Club has stepped up to the plate to prioritise prize money at this critical juncture for those who work in the Racing industry.
"JCR runs 25 percent of the fixtures in the UK, but is now funding almost 50 percent of all contribution to prize money made by racecourses. That reinforces its unique position in British racing and is further proof that it is a constructive and supportive partner to the Horsemen.
"I strongly believe that Horsemen – owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders and stable staff – will recognise this decision as a very significant effort to help meet the needs of our industry and support Jockey Club Racecourses accordingly.
"We now look to other racecourses and racecourse groups to follow the lead of The Jockey Club in increasing prize money, which inevitably will enable them to meet the Tariff more frequently.”
JCR's 14 tracks are: Aintree, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs, Exeter, Haydock Park, Huntingdon, Kempton Park, Market Rasen, Nottingham, Newmarket, Sandown Park, Warwick and Wincanton.
*Based on £33.3m 2011 budgeted total prize money distributed through JCR (before abandonments) vs £36.5m 2010 actual total prize money distributed through JCR