The Jockey Club's racecourse arm plans to contribute a record £22.9 million to British Racing’s prize money from its resources in 2017, which represents a year-on-year increase for horsemen of £2.1 million. This investment will be spread nationwide throughout all levels of the sport, with an increased focus on its grassroots.
£1.4 million of this extra funding will be invested in National Hunt racing and, as part of The Jockey Club's support for the grassroots of the sport, its seven small courses – Carlisle, Exeter, Huntingdon, Market Rasen, Nottingham, Warwick and Wincanton – see budgeted increases to their prize money of more than £100,000 each and by as much as £241,000 in the case of Carlisle.
In recent years The Jockey Club has launched its Grassroots Jumps Series that was expanded by the BHA to become the Challenger Series, where Jockey Club Racecourses hosts six £50,000 finals in a £315,000 card at Haydock Park. It also launched and continues to stage its Grassroots Flat Series with qualifiers at each of its Flat courses around the UK and a Finals Day featuring two £25,000 final races as part of a fixture at Nottingham worth more than £85,000. Racing in the North is further supported by Jockey Club Racecourses also staging the Finals Day of the Northern Lights Jumps Series at Carlisle, featuring five £25,000 final races as part of a card worth more than £150,000.
Total prize money across the 15 tracks run by Jockey Club Racecourses is scheduled to exceed £45 million in 2017 across 341 fixtures, with average prize money of more than £132,000 per fixture. In 2016, average prize money outside Jockey Club Racecourses was around £85,000 per fixture.
The Jockey Club is able to afford the significant increase to its prize money contribution announced today – a boost of more than 10 percent year-on-year and an increase of 87.6% since 2009 – on the back of continued successful commercial management and its structure that allows it to reinvest all its profits back into the sport.
Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said:
“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.”
Philip Freedman, Chairman of The Horsemen’s Group, said:
“Horsemen will be delighted with the Jockey Club’s announcement of its substantial increase in its own contribution to prize money in 2017. Yet again this comfortably exceeds what it is required to do under the Prize Money Agreement it has signed with Horsemen.
"The focus on grassroots is particularly welcome, given that this area does not attract significant sponsorship, but relies on racecourses own contributions together with payments through the Levy. At a time when Levy income has been falling maintaining support of grassroots racing is increasingly falling on racecourses, and the Jockey Club’s commitment to protecting the base of the sport is confirmation of its concern with protecting the long term interests of British Racing”
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), said:
“This announcement from Jockey Club Racecourses is excellent news for owners and horsemen, and I am further delighted that grassroots racing has seen particular focus.
“This extra support for the middle and lower tier of British Racing is clearly needed and is welcome. That is where it can help the majority of racehorse owners and horsemen and where more investment is needed around the country. It is also good to see such a strong additional investment in National Hunt racing.”
Lambourn-based National Hunt trainer, Oliver Sherwood, said:
“This is fantastic news. The Jockey Club needs to be applauded on producing a prize money strategy that starts at the bottom up rather than the top down. It is something that will be a major boost to the smaller tracks in particular.”
Malton-based dual-purpose trainer, Brian Ellison, said:
“It’s great to see the Jockey Club investing further money into National Hunt Racing with particular focus on the ‘grassroots’. The fact that smaller courses will benefit and courses in the North such as Carlisle is a big step forward for the sport.”