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Horse Racing UK: Jockey Club Racecourses signs landmark prize money agreement

29th September 2013

Jockey Club Racecourses, the UK's largest racecourse group, today signed a landmark prize money agreement with The Horsemen's Group, which represents British racing's owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys and stable staff, committing to contribute into prize money at least 40% of its betting-related media growth for the next three years to ensure all parties enjoy a fair share of the sport’s commercial success.

While The Jockey Club already puts every penny of its profits back into British racing for the long-term health of the sport, this agreement is the first time prize money contributions from racecourses become contractual commitments with horsemen, underpinned by the governing body, the British Horseracing Authority.

Effective from 1st January 2014, The Horsemen’s Group has developed the concept of prize money agreements in two tiers, offering racecourses the option to meet a set of ‘Premier’ or ‘Standard’ criteria. Premier status is achieved by contributing at least 40% of any growth in betting-related media income to prize money for the next three years in addition to a high level of contribution over the last three years, while Standard status sees racecourses contribute no less than 33%.

All 15 of The Jockey Club’s racecourses have been granted ‘Premier Tier’ status today by The Horsemen’s Group, making them eligible for a range of benefits over-and-above having a signed prize money agreement becoming a key consideration in the allocation of BHA-controlled fixtures, including the ability to increase entry fees for Group races with associated increases in prize money, the flexibility to enhance prize money according to field sizes in certain races, access to bonus schemes to top up prize money and the development of an approach that will see horsemen conduct additional media work to enhance the promotion of British racing.

In addition to Jockey Club Racecourses, 12 independently run racecourses also became the first to sign prize money agreements today. Attaining Premier status are: Ascot, Bangor, Chester, Goodwood, Newbury and York, while Ayr, Ffos Las, Hamilton, Kelso, Musselburgh and Perth attain Standard status.

Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club and Chairman of Jockey Club Racecourses, said:

“This is an important and positive step forward for our sport. The Jockey Club exists solely for the good of British racing and in 2013 we are contributing the largest amount ever to prize money from our own resources, which will increase further in 2014.

“The basis of these prize money agreements is partnership and a shared interest with Horsemen in the long-term health of British racing, where all parties receive a fair share of growth and success. Our 15 courses have attained Premier status on the basis of our future commitment and our track record of reinvestment, and I welcome the move from the independent courses who have met the terms, who make a significant contribution to our sport and with whom we share common values.”

Philip Freedman, Chairman of The Horsemen’s Group, said:

"These are landmark agreements for the sport and we view their introduction as a welcome first step towards delivering improved returns for horsemen. Until now a racecourse's contribution to prize-money has been totally discretionary and even though racecourse revenues have grown significantly in recent years, it has been left to them to decide how much should be passed on to the participants.

“We hope that they represent the start of a new era of collaboration and trust between the sport's key stakeholders. These contractual commitments will lock in the amounts that racecourses are currently investing in prize money and, for some, require significant increases. Racecourses will also contribute, as a minimum, an agreed share of future growth from the sale of rights for betting.”

Paul Bittar, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said:

“The signing of these Agreements is excellent news for the sport and one we, as the governing body, very much welcome. We will be working closely with the horsemen and racecourses to optimise the potential provided by the creation of genuine commercial partnerships between the sport’s key stakeholders.

“However, everyone in the sport recognises that the Agreements, while being a significant step forward, will not on their own address the financial shortcomings in the funding of British Racing. We will continue to press Government to address the deficiencies in the sport’s funding mechanism and ultimately progress the necessary changes in legislation. In addition, we continue to work constructively with the major betting firms to deliver enhanced yet commensurate financial support for the sport, with both parties recognising the importance of a competitive British Racing product which these Agreements will assist in delivering."

From The Jockey Club