British racing industry leaders have agreed on a new nine-point recovery plan for the horse racing industry in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
The recovery policy was negotiated between the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the Racecourse Association and owners’, jockeys’ and trainers’ representatives, and puts a focus on the retention of owners and key investors as well as attracting customers back to racecourses around the country.
The joint endeavour commits the industry develop a fixture programme for 2021 that will maximise prize money whilst keeping cost-bases as low as possible. Since racing was relaunched without crowds earlier this summer, the prize money is being supported by the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB), but the groups hope that fans of the sport will return to racecourses in their thousands next year once Covid-19 has been brought under control.
BHA Chief Executive, Nick Rust, commented: “It’s very important that this plan has been agreed by leaders from all parts of the racing industry. We know from the way we prepared to resume racing in June that working together works.
“The commitment shown by leaders in signing up to this recovery plan demonstrates a continued willingness to maintain a unified approach through the tough battles ahead.”
Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association, David Armstrong, added: “This plan brings together all the necessary components in one clear action plan with some ambitious goals. From a racecourse perspective the return of racegoers and the experience for owners are clear priorities that are already underway, and we look forward to the wider recovery of the sport”
The return of spectators to racecourses is critical for the future sustainability of the industry and the hospitality and other industries that rely on large meets for their income. For example, Cheltenham Festival is estimated to be worth more than £100 million to Gloucestershire’s economy and according to Deloitte, Ascot generates upwards of £138 million for the local area.
Racing is also critical to the gambling industry. According to its 2019 report, sports betting made up nearly half (42%) of the William Hill’s online revenues “with football and horse racing the key areas of focus”. Horse racing also generates up 21 per cent of the company’s retail revenues with horseracingbetting.co.uk describing the sport as the company’s “forte”.
These revenues are critical to both the success of gambling operators, but also the future of racing, with bookmakers’ significant contributors to race prize money through the UK horseracing levy towards which William Hill paid £137 million last year.