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Horse Racing UK: The Jockey Club makes record £19.5m prize money contribution for 2014

The Jockey Club, the largest commercial group in British horseracing, which reinvests every penny it makes back into the sport, today revealed plans to make an industry record £19.5 million contribution to prize money in 2014 from its own resources, beating by more than £1 million its own previous record high of £18.4m it is contributing this year.

Since 2009, The Jockey Club has increased its annual contribution to prize money by £7.1m as a result of its commercial success.

Sources of 2014 prize money include £19.5m (46%) from Jockey Club Racecourses, £15.9m (37%) from Industry Funding, projected entries stake of £7.4m (17%) for a total of total prize money of £42.8m, which is a record.

The Jockey Club owns 15 racecourses nationwide: Aintree, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs, Exeter, Haydock Park, Huntingdon, Kempton Park, Market Rasen, Newmarket July Course, Newmarket Rowley Mile, Nottingham, Sandown Park, Warwick and Wincanton. The more than £42 million prize money in 2014  will be paid in 364 scheduled fixtures. This equates to record average prize money per fixture of £118,000 and per race of £17,000. Prize money provides an important return to racehorse owners and is essential to the livelihoods of trainers, jockeys and stable staff. It is also considered an indicator of the overall health of Britain’s second biggest spectator sport.

“Prize money is the lifeblood of British racing," said Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive, The Jockey Club. "Prize money provides a return for racehorse owners and supporting trainers, jockeys and stable staff. It is an important measure of the health of our sport. As a result of the continued growth of our business, I'm delighted to announce plans for The Jockey Club to contribute more than ever before into prize money in 2014, with our year-on-year increase once again far outstripping improvements in the wider economy."

“At the same time we have been raising capital to invest in projects designed to enhance the customer experience we offer and increase our returns. In particular at Cheltenham we have our biggest ever facilities development, which will cost £45m to be ready ahead of the 2016 Festival. The demands on our Group remain significant and our sport's funding model still requires major works, but without shareholders The Jockey Club’s sole reason for existence is to support British racing, meaning the more successful we can be commercially, the more we can do for our sport.”

Based on its 2014 plans, the UK’s largest racecourse group will have increased its contribution to prize money by 57% since 2009. At that time its contribution was a then industry-leading £12.4 million, which equated to Jockey Club Racecourses resourcing 30% of the total prize money distributed at its courses, while industry funding accounted for 51% of the total. By contrast, 2014 reinforces the changes to the funding dynamics of British racing, with Jockey Club Racecourses intending to contribute from its own resources 46% of the record total £42.8 million prize money it expects to distribute in 2014. Industry funding of £15.9 million is slated to make up 37% of the total in 2014, highlighting how the group has rapidly and successfully grown its business in challenging economic conditions to put record amounts of investment back into the sport.

The 2014 prize money boost will be focused on rewarding horsemen throughout Jockey Club Racecourses’ race programme, with each racecourse in the group offering increased prize money compared to 20134. While each racecourse will announce its prize money details individually, already announced highlights include the first £1m Crabbie’s Grand National; a significantly enhanced bet365 April two-day meeting at Sandown Park (Flat Friday, Jumps Saturday) featuring the upgraded Grade 1 bet365 Celebration Chase and bet365 Gold Cup to officially end the British Jumps season; The Jockey Club Grassroots Series, with £150,000 worth of finals (Flat and Jumps); two new post-Cheltenham Festival handicap consolation races worth £75,000 on Silver Cups Day at Kempton Park; and an additional high value fixture at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile in the autumn with the Betfred Cesarewitch Saturday slot retained and Dubai Future Champions Day run on the following Friday as part of the new British Champions Weekend premier Flat season finale in Britain.

“Every time someone spends money to go racing with Jockey Club Racecourses they help to support British racing given we put our profits back into the sport," said Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director, Jockey Club Racecourses. “The evidence shows our prize money contributions are paying dividends. The economic downturn significantly reduced the size of the horse population and that wasn’t something within the power of British to avoid. However, industry data shows our field sizes have been outperforming the wider sport, which we are linking to our industry-leading investment in prize money and turf surfaces, as well as ensuring the right opportunities to race are available at our courses. As well as boosting prize money across the board, it is also worth noting we have invested carefully in upgrading our race programme so that the average race class at Jockey Club Racecourses today is 3.9 compared to 4.1 in 2011."

“Today, every one of our 15 courses now stages at least one Class 1 race and we stage so much of the top end of British racing, which includes Newmarket Racecourses staging the most Group races of anywhere in the country, as well as our Jumps courses putting on 84% of Grade 1s. Equally, our commitments are not just at the top end, but throughout all levels of British racing. Examples include each of our small courses now staging midweek feature days from this year that include a new £25,000 handicap on each, as well as supporting racing's grassroots, such as through our continued investment in The Jockey Club Grassroots Series with £150,000 worth of finals across Flat and Jumps.”

 

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