By Daithi Harvey
British owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff will benefit from a record high of £160m of prize-money in 2018, the BHA announced on Friday. British racing’s total fund, up from £143m in 2017 will kick in with immediate effect Jan. 1 and comes into being as a result of a previously announced £8m central Levy funding boost for grassroots racing through a new appearance money scheme and also through increased contributions by racecourses which are forecast to rise from around £75m in 2017 to £84m in 2018. From New Year’s Day the revamped appearance money scheme for qualifying races will see payments of at least £300 on the Flat and £350 over Jumps for horses finishing between fifth and eighth place. This is aimed at improving the lot of those operating at lower tiers while it should also lead to an increase the number of races attracting at least eight runners with a view to enhancing the British betting product
The onus will also be on racecourses to invest more in prize-money as this commitment will unlock further funding from the levy when minimum threshold values are reached. The immediate impact of this will see a large proportion of races run in Britain in 2018 having an advertised total race value of at least £6,000. Commenting on the increased fund BHA chief executive Nick Rust 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.
Rust continued, “The increased fund 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.”
This view was echoed by Charlie Liverton of the Racehorse Oweners Association who said, “The findings of the National Racehorse Owners Survey showed how costs and prize-money were the primary reasons for owners to either lapse their involvement or not invest further into the sport. The new Appearance Money Scheme therefore, should go some way to help alleviate those costs and reward owners whose horses race at the grassroots level. This is a positive start, however, there must be a continued effort from all in the industry to focus on securing more prize money at these lower levels for the benefit of all horsemen.”