Prize money at the 14 tracks run by Jockey Club Racecourses will top £40m in 2013, an increase of more than £5m on 2012. Wincanton and Warwick see growth of 30% and 50% respectively, so that the prize money at those two tracks tops the £1m mark for the first time.
Some of the money comes from the coffers of JCR itself. Their £18.6m contribution is £1.8m more than they put in this year and sees the business ploughing more than 60% of its profits directly back into the sport in prize money. Owners’ fees will contribute an extra £100,000, presumably through an increase in entry charges, with the levy funding the remainder.
JCR is seeking to improve the quality of midweek racing it offers, particularly at the smaller tracks such as Carlisle, Nottingham and Market Rasen. It will put on a £25,000 race at many of those meetings. Simon Balzagette, chief executive of JCR said, “I’m delighted that in the process of offering more than £40m in prize money next year, we have also been able to upgrade our race programme. Quality racing is vital to the future health of our sport and in 2013 we are staging it at our large and small courses, at weekends and in midweek slots.”
JCR is able to make these changes because it already meets the new BHA minimum race values at almost every meeting, so it doesn’t have to invest money to catch up on those values. Balzagette emphasised that the increase demonstrated JCR was succeeding in its aim of putting its profits back into racing with the explicit goal of providing a fair return to horsemen.
Stephen Atkin, chief executive of the Racecourse Association welcomed the increase, and highlighted its affect on the total amount in race purses next year. He said, “The increase will give a further boost to prize money at British racecourses, which is set to exceed £110m in 2013 and, in the process, to break the previous British record of £110.7m, set in 2009.”