The Senior Steward hails a new era for the Jockey Club and announces a new name for RHT
At a press conference at Sandown Park today, Julian Richmond-Watson, the Senior Steward, outlined how the Jockey Club, following the transfer of its regulatory role to the HRA, intends to focus on developing the commercial potential provided by its portfolio of 13 racecourses and its property and land management company.
At the briefing, which included a presentation by Andrew Coppel, the Chief Executive of Racecourse Holdings Trust, the Senior Steward also announced the launch of Jockey Club Racecourses, the new title of the Club's 13 strong racecourse group. Racecourse Holdings Trust (RHT) will be re-named Jockey Club Racecourses from January 2007.
With a history of influence and investment within British horseracing spanning four centuries, the Jockey Club is looking ahead to a new era in which the focus will switch to its commercial activities, whilst also forging closer links with Racing Welfare, racing's biggest charity of which the Jockey Club is the sole member.
Julian Richmond-Watson said: "While the Jockey Club was responsible for regulating the sport it made sense that its commercial activities were kept separate. Released from regulatory duties following the establishment of the HRA, there is no longer a need to maintain a distance between the Board of Stewards, our portfolio of 13 racecourses and our property and land management company, Jockey Club Estates.
"Due to their ownership by the Club, the profits of both RHT and Jockey Club Estates are ploughed back into the sport. Both companies present a story of substantial and sustained investment in racing. Since 2000 RHT have invested over £112m on capital expenditure projects on their racecourses. Over the last decade Jockey Club Estates have invested over £6m on state of the art training facilities in Newmarket. Together the two companies employ over 550 people.
"The Club intends to further develop the commercial potential of both Jockey Club Estates and Jockey Club Racecourses, whilst at the same time promoting the key principals and values of the Jockey Club. Such as ensuring that the quality and diversity of British racing is maintained and using our resources to promote the sport in areas like National Hunt racing, the pattern system and the breeding industry.
"The Club's companies will continue to balance their commercial interests with those of the sport. For example, not only is RHT the key stakeholder in Racing UK, but the group have also played a pivotal role in ensuring that racing maintains its presence on Channel 4, foregoing potential income in order to sustain racing's invaluable level of terrestrial coverage. Meanwhile, the recent purchase and substantial investment in the training facilities in Lambourn by Jockey Club Estates represents another example of the Club's capacity and willingness to protect and secure assets which are part of the heritage of the sport but also of value to the industry today.
He added: "The launch of Jockey Club Racecourses will serve to increase visibility of our racecourse ownership interests, which is important if the Club is to successfully adopt a more commercial stance. It will also clarify the relationship between the Jockey Club and its racecourses and raise awareness of the group."
Andrew Coppel, Chief Executive of Racecourse Holdings Trust, said: "Changing the name of RHT to Jockey Club Racecourses represents a real opportunity for the group and its thirteen courses. Without compromising the individuality of the tracks, the group will benefit from a more overt association with its parent company and the new name provides a more accurate reflection of the role and influence of the group."
Notes for Editors:
Racecourse Holdings Trust:
Established in 1964 to acquire and protect the future of Cheltenham racecourse. In 1969 RHT became a wholly owned subsidiary of The Jockey Club. Now responsible for 13 courses, it is the leading racecourse group in the country with a portfolio that includes the John Smith's Grand National and the Vodafone Derby. RHT courses stage 4 of the 5 British Classics and nearly 80% of Grade 1 jump races.
The group's portfolio is comprised of seven larger courses (Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs, Haydock Park, Kempton Park, Newmarket and Sandown) and six smaller tracks (Carlisle, Huntingdon, Market Rasen, Nottingham, Warwick and Wincanton).
The Jockey Club's trustee ownership of RHT ensures that there is no distribution of profits to shareholders. Instead, profits are re-invested into racing via investment in racecourse facilities and prize money.
Jockey Club Estates:
Jockey Club Estates provides a direct link to Club's history and heritage in Newmarket. The company owns 5,000 acres of land in and around Newmarket and Lambourn, and over 90 residential and commercial properties. There are currently around 3,000 horses in training using Jockey Club gallops.
Its property portfolio includes not only 3000 acres of training grounds, but also the Rowley Mile and July Racecourses, the National Stud and the National Horseracing Museum, as well as the Jockey Club Rooms on Newmarket High Street.
Like RHT, profits generated by Jockey Club Estates are re-invested into the sport, primarily into upgrading the facilities available to trainers on Jockey Club property.
The registered charity Racing Welfare is also a company limited by guarantee with the Jockey Club being the sole member. It is the only charity that offers help to racing's entire workforce by providing a range of services, including:
Support for the injured, the ill and the disabled; Welfare officers in all the main racing centres offering information and advice; Financial support for those in need; Affordable housing for the retired; A holiday scheme for disabled beneficiaries; Education.