The Horserace Betting Levy Board has agreed a £21.5-million loan fund through the government's Sport Winter Survival Package to aid in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. British racing has suffered over £400-million in lost racecourse revenues since the start of the pandemic, with prizemoney down by £65-million (41%) and racecourses still significantly affected by the limited number of spectators allowed to attend.
A cut of £7.5-million will be utilized to enhance prizemoney for 12 months from July 2021, with 60% going to flat racing and 40% to jumps. On the flat, classes three, four and five novice and maiden races and over jumps, classes three and four novice and maiden races will receive an additional £3.5-million in support. Additional funding will be provided to black-type races (listed, Group 2 and 3 on the flat and Grade 1 and 2 over jumps) run above the minimum value, which could deliver an extra £2.5-million in prizemoney. An additional £7.5-million will be deployed to racecourses to assist with their raceday integrity costs, and £6.5-million will be retained by the Levy Board for now to provide flexibility across 2021 and 2022.
Julie Harrington, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said, “British racing is grateful for this vital support from the Sport Winter Survival Package. We much appreciate the assistance of the Levy Board in agreeing to take on the loan and work with racing to agree how the money is best used and distribute using existing funding processes. Plans for the deployment of these funds have been designed to target the areas where we have seen a decline in horses in training and provide confidence in the future to our investors.
“Britain is rightly proud of its unique and world-leading racing heritage. But it is clear that with competition around the globe increasing, this is not sufficient to attract the best in the world to be trained and raced here. Ensuring that prize-money is competitive helps ensure that Britain has the best horses, which benefits everybody who loves the sport.
“It is also important that we recognise the contribution and sacrifices made by trainers and jockeys, and the loyalty of their owners, that have combined to keep racing going during the pandemic. Vital to the overall success of British racing are our unique racecourses, whose staff have also worked so hard since racing resumed to ensure we remain compliant with Covid rules and guidelines. Supporting their financial recovery is an important part of this plan and will help to ensure our races retain their place as being at the forefront of the global racing scene.”