Jockey Club horse racing posts record annual turnover

By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News

image source, Getty Images

The Jockey Club, which operates 15 racecourses, including Aintree, Epsom Downs, Cheltenham and Newmarket, has posted record annual turnover for 2016.

Turnover was £191.5m, up 4.5% on a year earlier, with operating profits also up, to £22.6m from £21.9m.

Its contribution to prize money also hit a record, of £20.6m.

Boss Simon Bazalgette said UK racing can now "kick-on, matter to more people in this country, and ensure the sport has a healthy future at all levels".

He also welcomed "reforms to racing's funding", namely the introduction earlier this week of a reformed version of the bookmakers' levy system.

"This is a key pillar in the funding of British racing," said group chief executive Mr Bazalgette. "Both the UK Parliament and the European Union have approved the legislative changes."

The new British horserace betting levy

  • The new scheme will ensure a statutory financial return to the sport from all firms who accept bets on British racing from customers based in Britain (England, Scotland, Wales)
  • That applies whether they operate on-course or off-course, and includes bets taken online and by firms based offshore
  • Operators must pay 10% of gross profits from bets made by British customers on British racing, above the first £500,000 they make
  • The changes will now include online gambling, which is estimated to account for more than half of all betting activity on the sport
  • The previous system had been in existence since 1961
  • Some offshore firms had been making voluntary contributions towards British racing, it was not compulsory

The Jockey Club is the largest commercial group in British horseracing. It is governed by Royal Charter, with all profits invested back into the sport.

It said its healthy commercial performance had been driven by a range of revenue streams - including continued growth from large racing festivals, its Jockey Club Live joint music venture, commercial partnerships, media fees and record numbers of racehorses using Jockey Club Estates' training facilities.

Attendances of 1.92 million people to its 333 race-days nationwide were the second largest ever at Jockey Club Racecourses, despite eight fixtures being cancelled due to bad weather.

The Jockey Club says it has grown its turnover by 90% since 2008, its first full year of operating solely as a commercial group.

It also says it aims to increase its contribution to racing prize money to £250m over the next ten years, which would be an increase of 52%, or £86m, over the previous similar period.

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