British racing targets £9.7m central funding boost for grassroots as 2018 Fixture List is published

25 Jul 2017 Grassroots Racing/Fixtures

To coincide with the publication of the 2018 Fixture List, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), with the support of the Racecourse Association (RCA) and Horsemen’s Group, has today announced a package of proposals to invest additional Levy income in racing from 2018, with the aim of delivering three key objectives for the sport – supporting ownership, delivering more competitive and compelling racing, and increasing customer engagement, which will in turn help grow the sport’s future revenues.

Funding boost to grassroots

Central to the proposals is an estimated boost of £9.7m of Levy funding targeted at mid and lower-tier racing through increases to prize money funding supported by a new appearance money scheme and race incentive fund. This £9.7m represents £8m of new Levy funding plus the reallocation of £1.7m of existing Levy funding for prize money that will largely now be met by racecourses’ contributions. These schemes will improve returns to horsemen and also aim to increase field sizes at Class 3 and below over jumps and Class 4 and below on the flat.

As a consequence, most races in Britain (with a small number of exceptions depending on race type) will now be run with a total race value of at least £6,000 from 2018.

Racecourses will be given the opportunity to invest their own revenues to unlock the extra race incentive prize money funding as well as accessing the appearance money scheme, which would see qualifying races introduce payments of at least £300 for horses finishing between fifth and eighth place. As a result the overall boost to returns to horsemen at grassroots level will be significantly greater than the extra money invested via Levy, with an estimated total boost of more than £11m to prize money before any increases in racecourse executive contributions are taken into account.

In addition, an existing £6m race incentive fund will continue to incentivise the programming of races at Class 1 to 3, with a £500k Development Fund continuing to be used to support longer term strategic initiatives to enhance the breed, alongside £1m of new funding collected through an auction of BHA Fixtures.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer for the BHA, said:

“The sport cannot thrive and grow without strong foundations. Although there has been growth in total prize money in recent years, much of this has been at the top end. The returns to our sport’s participants further down the scale are simply not sufficient at present to be sustainable. As a result of this trend, we’ve seen ownership and horse numbers in decline for a sustained period, and this has only started to reverse in the past year or so.

“Targeting grassroots with extra funding will help racing’s participants to maintain their involvement in the sport, keeping more horses in training, as well as helping with the recruitment and retention of staff to care for our horses. This will support the delivery of more competitive racing, which will be better positioned in the long-term to support the growth of betting on the sport and ensure that future revenues are enhanced.

“This vision has been agreed between the sport’s tripartite bodies of the BHA, RCA and Horsemen’s Group. Great credit goes to those bodies and this is another indicator of the progress that is being made, on behalf of the sport, under the Members’ Agreement.”

The proposals are subject to the availability of forecast Levy funding and the approval of the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB). They are based on anticipated minimum Levy spend on prize money of £57.4m in 2018, which represents a growth of £8.05m from 2017. Prize money spending efficiencies, including race divisions being funded by the racecourses, will allow for the £9.7m investment in grassroots.

It is also the intention that the Plus 10 Bonus Scheme will receive a boost in 2018 with around £300,000 of revenue being invested to support returns to three-year-old staying horses, aligning the scheme with the broader, industry objective to encourage the breeding and racing of stayers.

Finally, the minimum value of National Hunt Flat races will be increased to £3,500 from the existing value of £2,400.

The prize money funding proposal has been pre-agreed by Racing’s members, the BHA, RCA and Horsemen’s Group. Plans for wider spending on areas such as integrity, welfare, recruitment and retention of staff under the new Levy will be agreed via the Levy Board later this year.

2018 Fixture List published

The 2018 Fixture List can be found here: 2018 Fixture List

Racing’s tripartite governance structure agreed that the 2018 Fixture List should be compiled with the objectives of growing ownership, competitive racing and customer engagement in mind. This was the vision that was agreed in 2016 when the responsibility for fixture strategy was brought under the Members’ Committee and it was determined that – following reform of the Levy and introduction of the new Racing Authority – the Fixture List should be aligned fully with the sport’s strategic objectives to grow racing and betting.

It was also agreed at the outset that the Fixture List should remain broadly similar in size to 2017, on account of current field size trends and number of horses in training. Focus has therefore been placed on optimisation of the Fixture List in order to satisfy the demands of the sport’s customers, while also continuing to support horsemen in servicing the fixtures.

Top line figures from the 2018 Fixture List are:

  • A total of 1,508 fixtures have been scheduled, 11 more than planned in 2017.
  • Ratio of fixtures in 2018 – Jump: 39.7%, Flat Turf 37.7%, All Weather 22.6% (2017: Jump 40.1% : Flat Turf 38.1% : All Weather 21.8%)
  • 910 Flat fixtures scheduled (14 more than in 2017). Of these fixtures, 569 are Flat Turf fixtures (one fewer than 2017) while 341 are All Weather fixtures (15 more than originally scheduled in 2017)
  • 598 Jump fixtures scheduled (three fewer than 2017)
  • The 2018 Fixture List process saw a rationalisation of fixture types in order to streamline the process of compiling the List. As such there are now only two fixture types – 1,259 Racecourse Fixtures (2017: 1,219) and 249 BHA Fixtures (2017: 235)
  • By betting session, there will be 1,096 afternoon fixtures (19 fewer than 2017) and 412 evening fixtures (30 more than 2017).

Further headline elements to the 2018 Fixture List include:

  • Earliest Fixture List publication since 2009
  • Introduction of a week-long Jumping break after the Bet365 Jump Finale at Sandown, with the new Jump season starting on the following Saturday afternoon at Uttoxeter for professional riders
  • A small number of additional fixtures have been programmed in customer-friendly slots on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons throughout summer with the aim of increasing attendances.
  • Around 20 Monday and Tuesday afternoon fixtures, capable of being staged under floodlights in the winter, will have a later start time as a twilight fixture to support changes to the betting market.
  • At the time of year when the available horse population means that flat eliminations are at their highest, twilight fixtures will be staged on Monday evenings in September and October.
  • With a view to continuing strengthening Sunday racing, an incentive fund will offer support for the staging of a fixture worth at least £70,000

Richard Wayman added:

“In order to achieve growth we need the Fixture List and race programme to work in a manner that meets our customer’s requirements and, in doing so, generates enhanced revenues for the sport with broadly the same number of fixtures. As customer and betting habits change it is essential that our sport evolves with them.

“The data and trends amongst the horse population make us confident that the marginal, targeted growth that we have seen in the Fixture List can be sustained and the trend toward more competitive racing be maintained.

“At the same time, we are aware of the demands which racing and the Fixture List places on our participants. We believe that the creation of a substantial appearance money scheme for mid and lower-tier races will help boost the returns to the participants who service fixtures at all times of day throughout the year. In addition, higher appearance money payments, increased by £100 per placed horse, have been made available to assist horsemen in servicing fixtures on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as for Sundays.”

All changes to the Fixture List have been managed without significant alteration to the volume of Flat fixtures throughout the summer, and the absence of Sunday Flat racing from mid-January until after the Lincoln has been retained.

Notes to editors

1. The 2018 Fixture List can be found here: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/resource-centre/fixture-list/

2. The proposed total race values across the included race classes are as follows.

Flat

Class 2 and 3 races have been included for completion purposes only to show minimum values. These races are not part of the new schemes and not eligible for incentive payments or appearance money

Jump

Class 2 races have been included for completion purposes only to show minimum values. These races are not part of the new schemes and not eligible for incentive payments or appearance money

By way of example, in order to trigger the appearance money and race incentive fund grants, which are active for races of Class 4-6 on the Flat and Class 3-5 over Jumps, racecourses need to invest £900 above the existing minimum race values.

This would then lead to £1,600 of grant funding for each race, comprised of a £400 payment for extra prize money and around £1,200 in appearance money (sometimes more) which would be paid to horses finishing between fifth and eighth place in each race. Horses crossing the line in at least eight place can expect to receive no less than £300 whether in appearance money or as prize money. Higher appearance money payments of up to £450 per placed horse are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as for Sundays.

Class 6 Jump races (i.e. largely NH Flat races) are not targeted and therefore can be staged for £3,500. Also maiden and novice races are excluded from the appearance money scheme but qualify for the additional prize money grant, barring Juvenile hurdle races and Novice Chases which still qualify for both.

 

3. 2016 datapack – key data

Key data around metrics such as horses in training and average field sizes for 2016 and previous years can be found here: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Full-Year-Data-Pack-2016.pdf