It may have been a catastrophic few days for English football, but for horse racing the immediate future could not be any more positive.
With Sajid Javid, the health minister, confirming that the July 19 unlocking of restrictions will go ahead as planned, racecourses will be able to welcome a full capacity of punters and racegoers from that date.
That will ensure a huge boost in revenue flowing into the sport, and the financial upswing for British racing won’t end there.
The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) has confirmed that they will be continuing with their above-average contribution to prize money in the sport, with a further £21 million flowing into the coffers between now and the end of the year.
That means that HBLB’s total contribution to racing in 2021 will be £78 million, which is around one-third higher than their typical annual ‘investment.’
The Levy Board will also fund other aspects of horse racing using the government’s £21.5 million loan, which was handed out as part of their Winter Survival Package. Just some of the one-off payments that HBLB have issued include the £23 million handed out to racecourses following the suspension of the sport in 2020, as well as ensuring the jockeys’ insurance scheme was topped up.
The organisation’s chief executive, Alan Delmonte, said via a press release:
“This latest announcement confirms that HBLB will have been able to keep up significantly higher than usual contributions throughout the whole of 2021, as it has since June 2020.
“Even before taking into account the additional expenditure arising from the loan taken from government, HBLB expects to spend around £78m in prize-money for the year – 32% more than usual.”
York Promises Bumper Payday for the Ebor Festival
The first big meeting to benefit from an increase in prize money will be the Ebor Festival at York, with some renewals on the 28-race card going off at higher levels than pre-2020.
The meeting, which will take place from August 22-25, will welcome full capacity crowds to the popular track, and that increased revenue will allow York to pump an extra £250,000 into the prize fund.
That means that all races will be worth at least £70,000 to those involved, and the total prize kitty for the week – £4.7 million – is more than double what was up for grabs last year.
The chairperson of York Racecourse, Bridget Guerin, was delighted to announce the enhanced incentives available.
“York has a strong record of investing in prize money to attract the best horses and jockeys to the Knavesmire. In May, we announced the return of our flagship Group 1s to their record levels of 2019.
“Today, we are delighted to announce that every race will be worth at least £70,000 at this year’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival. Working with our partners and supporters, and given the opportunity for racegoers to return at full capacity in August, we are proud to deliver a valuable and varied race programme.
“Our hope is that we are all rewarded with some fantastic racing action over the four magical days that form the centrepiece of our season.”