British racing’s leaders and the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) have announced details of HBLB’s agreed deployment of £21.5 million of loan funding secured from the Government’s Sport Winter Survival Package (SWSP), with racecourses and participants set to benefit as the sport continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
British racing has been impacted by well over £400m in lost racecourse revenues since the start of the pandemic and a reduction of over £65 million paid out as prize-money to participants in 2020 (41% reduction). The sport continues to be significantly affected by the limited number of spectators allowed.
The money is being lent by Government to the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) rather than to any constituent body of Racing as a consequence of the sport’s particular governance structure and the HBLB’s role in providing central funding to the costs of race-day regulation, equine welfare and industry training. The loan will need to be repaid from future Levy returns.
The SWSP was launched by the UK Government in late 2020 with the stated aim of supporting “the immediate future of major spectator sports” that have suffered revenue losses as a result of the absence of spectators. British racing developed its expenditure proposal to the HBLB with the Government’s overarching objective in mind.
£7.5m will be utilized to enhance prize-money for the 12 months from July 2021, in such a way as to support engagement levels and maximize the retention of horse numbers in 2021 and beyond.
The allocations will be split approximately 60% to Flat racing and 40% to Jumps, in line with the composition of the fixture list and the HBLB’s historic funding split, and will be targeted to support the upper tiers of racing and developmental races.
These are the races that have been identified as being most in need of support in order that they can remain competitive in comparison to similar races in neighboring jurisdictions and other major racing nations.
The Minister for Minister for Gambling and Lotteries the Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP said: “Horse racing is part of our national life. We have stepped in to provide £21.5 million as part of the Sports Survival Package, to help get the sport back on track, secure its future and retain its place on the world stage.”
Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of the BHA, 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 recognize 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 is 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.”
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