Additional prize money from racecourses and the Levy set to boost sport

Additional prize money from the Levy and racecourses is set to flow to the sport’s participants from 1 January 2018. Those participants who operate at the mid and lower tiers of the sport are set to benefit most through an appearance money scheme and race incentive fund aimed at the sport’s grassroots participants.

The use of the additional Levy funds to support the lower and middle tiers was agreed as part of a three-year package by the sport’s tripartite governance structure comprising the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Racecourse Association (RCA) and members of the Horsemen’s Group (HG).

There is also further positive news for British racing as the total prize money forecast for 2018 sits at £160m. This represents a rise of at least £17m on the £143m which is forecast to be reached in 2017, and an all-time high in terms of returns to owners and competitors.

Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the RCA, said:

“The additional revenue generated by the new Levy funds will provide a significant boost to the sport through increased prize money. The forecast growth in prize money would not be possible without racecourses increasing their executive contributions to record levels so credit must go to them and we hope this investment will benefit the sport.”

The rise in prize money can be attributed to two main sources – a previously announced £8m central Levy funding boost for grassroots racing through a new appearance money scheme and race incentive fund, and increased contributions by racecourses which are forecast to rise from around £75m in 2017 to £84m in 2018.

The sport’s new appearance money scheme also becomes active from 1 January. This scheme sees qualifying races introducing payments of at least £300 on the Flat and £350 over Jumps for horses finishing between fifth and eighth place. As well as improving the return to owners at the middle and lower tiers, the appearance money scheme has been designed to increase the number of races attracting at least eight runners with a view to encouraging betting on British racing.

Racecourses have the opportunity to unlock the extra prize money funding by investing their own revenues into the prize money and reaching minimum threshold values. This package of measures is designed to create a ‘virtuous circle’ for the sport, whereby greater investment in prize money should translate to more incentive for owners to put horses into training, which means a better racing and betting product owing to more competitive racing, encouraging greater engagement with the sport and therefore stimulating further financial growth.

As a result of the significant investment into grassroots prize money, a large proportion of races run in Britain in 2018 will have an advertised total race value of at least £6,000.

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:

“It is very important for all those involved in our sport that we are due to see such significant prize money increases in 2018.

“Although there has been a gradual recovery in total prize money in recent years driven by increased investment from racecourses, the returns to our sport’s owners and participants have not been sufficient, in particular to those who are not competing at the top echelons. The support we received from the Government and, indeed, all political parties in establishing the new Levy has been crucial and means that we can target support towards those operating at the racing’s grassroots.

“The increased prize money on offer in 2018 does not resolve the sport’s prize money situation outright, but it is a step in the right direction. We hope that this good news will serve as an incentive to racehorse owners who are thinking of putting horses in training, and provide a timely boost to jockeys, trainers and stable staff, who rely in part on prize money for their livelihoods.”