The Plus 10 bonus scheme, which has paid more than £8 million in bonus prize money to owners and breeders in just two years, is all set for the new flat season, with an anticipated 600 opportunities to win a £10,000 bonus this flat season.
A recently approved rule change, which was first announced in December 2016, will see a limit on the number of bonuses a horse can win. From 1 April, Plus 10 horses will be able to win one £10,000 bonus. In the event a horse which has already won a bonus is successful in further Plus 10 races, a bonus will not be paid.
The rule change is the result of the success of the scheme and changes to the two-year-old race programme. In 2016, Plus 10 recorded a 10 per cent uplift in the number of qualifying two-year-olds, while large field sizes in Plus 10 races led to races being divided due to declared runners. A number of racecourses also responded to demand for Plus 10 by lifting prize money to upgrade races to qualify for a bonus. This has resulted in an expansion of the scheme from its original size of 550 races – upon which the budget was based – to 600 races.
With further racecourses exploring options to upgrade races to qualify for a bonus, the potential for more races to divide and the impact of many more novice contests for two-year-olds, the Plus 10 committee has made the change to ensure the scheme can continue to operate successfully within its available resources.
Of the 769 horses which won a bonus during 2015 and 2016, just 6 per cent of these horses went on to win a second or third bonus. When looking at the total pool of potential Plus 10 winners from each foal crop, just 0.8 per cent won multiple bonuses.
Plus 10 Chairman Julian Richmond-Watson said: “Plus 10 is achieving its aims of encouraging investment in bloodstock, stimulating racehorse ownership and incentivising owners to run their horses more often. Because of its success, we are introducing this small change which we consider to be the least impactful to all stakeholders in Plus 10, to ensure the scheme operates at a sustainable level in the future. While qualifying horses will no longer be able to win a second bonus, this is offset by improved opportunities to win, thereby maintaining the broad scope of the scheme across two and three-year-old races, with large numbers of owners and breeders remaining beneficiaries.”
As a truly joint scheme, which recognises the significant links between the British and Irish industries and supports those operations which operate across both countries, the rule change will also apply in Ireland.
Horse Racing Ireland Director of Racing, Jason Morris said: “Limiting the number of bonuses a horse can win will mean the maximum possible number of individual horses, and therefore owners and breeders, benefiting from the scheme going forwards.
“The rule change should also ensure a greater number of bonuses carry over for the benefit of three-year-old maidens in Ireland each year.”