SOME Group 1 races could be halved in value when British racing resumes but races at the lower end of the spectrum will have their purses protected and in some cases increased, according to a plan revealed on Thursday by the British Horseracing Authority, the Racecourse Association and The Horsemen's Group.
A statement issued jointly by the three bodies said: "Supporting prize money levels at the middle and grassroots level of the sport is the focus as the minimum prize money levels allowed under the Rules of Racing for the first 10 weeks of racing’s resumption have been published.
"With racing being staged behind closed doors and betting shops remaining closed, a reduction in prize money when the sport resumes is inevitable as racecourse revenues have been severely impacted. However, £15.7m in contributions from the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) published earlier today have allowed racing’s leaders to agree minimum values which exceed, on average, 80% of the previously permitted minimum levels.
"Although Racing’s Members Committee, which includes representation from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), racecourses and horsemen, were concerned with the impact of prize money reductions on all levels of racing, it agreed that prize money at the mid to lower echelons of the sport should be protected as much as possible. This was primarily to support the retention of racehorse owners and horses in training.
"The permitted minimum value of prize money at the upper echelons, which are generally more reliant on racecourse contributions and sponsorship, are affected to a greater extent than grassroots racing in this period.
"The Levy Board will closely monitor the levy revenues generated once racing resumes. Minimum values will remain under review and revert to current levels as soon as circumstances allow."
The statement quoted Richard Wayman, chief operating officer for the BHA, as saying: "British racing’s recovery from the current situation will be dependent on the continuing support of racehorse owners and it is therefore regrettable that, as has also been the case in other jurisdictions, we have had to reduce minimum prize money levels when racing returns.
“We are very grateful for the increased contributions provided by the Horseracing Betting Levy Board which have allowed the sport to mitigate the impact to a certain extent, and agree a strategy that seeks to support the retention of owners and their horses. However, even with those, it has not been possible to fully make up for the loss of revenues resulting from racing without crowds or betting shops remaining closed, particularly in the higher classes that were especially dependent on contributions from racecourses and their sponsors.
“We are fortunate that many owners at all levels continue to demonstrate their loyalty to the sport, and it is important to stress that these reductions, which will also impact on the livelihoods of trainers, jockeys and stable staff, are a short-term measure only.
“The resumption of racing at the beginning of June provides a fantastic opportunity to put British racing into the spotlight and engage the nation with our sport. This can yield benefits in the short term and for years to come. The values will therefore remain under constant review as it is important that they are raised at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Charlie Liverton, chief executive of the Racehorse Owners Association, said: “The contribution of the HBLB is most welcome and will go a long way to protecting prize money for owners in the new programme. The planned return to racing has been a huge collaborative effort from the horsemen, the racecourses, the BHA and the Levy Board.
"However, we simply would not have a sport to return to without the great loyalty shown by owners who have supported their horses in training throughout this challenging period. We cannot thank them enough for the patience and support they have shown.”
David Armstrong, chief executive of the Racecourse Association, said: "The RCA on behalf of its members welcomes the prize money support provided by the HBLB which is essential in enabling the resumption of racing behind closed doors.
"The operational conditions faced by racecourses to stage racing behind closed doors are complex and we are working hard to be ready for resumption on June 1st. The continuing support by the HBLB to fund the efforts across the sport, including for racecourses, will be essential.”
The following tables illustrate the previous minimum values, the proposed HBLB funding for each race, the new proposed minimum values (which also take into account the fees paid by owners to enter races) and the relative percentages between the previous and proposed minimum values.
* Please note: Although it is proposed that minimum values at the lower levels increase, this fails to reflect that the additional levy funding and appearance money that had previously been voluntarily unlocked at these levels by all racecourses would cease. To illustrate, a Class 6 handicap previously had a minimum value of £3,500. However, if racecourses contributed a further £400 above that minimum, additional levy funding was provided so that the total race value was £5,593. Therefore, although the minimum value has increased, the standard total race value of Class 6 handicaps will fall from £5,593 to £4,300.