Jockey Club raises prize money

Britain's Jockey Club, the owner of race courses including Aintree and Epsom, plans to increase prize money this year to £16.7 million to help offset a decline in funding from the betting industry.

Eurosport

Founded in 1750 and initially the sport's governing body, the Jockey Club has evolved into the largest commercial group in British horse racing and reinvests its profits in the sport. Its 14 race courses also include Cheltenham and Newmarket.

The prize fund, which the Jockey Club calls the "lifeblood of the sport" totalled £16.4 million last year, up 3.4 million on 2010 when bad weather hit racing.

The Jockey Club said the money was increasingly important to stables because of diminishing returns from a levy paid by the betting industry.

"We were able to afford to contribute more than ever to British racing in the form of prize money, despite the challenging economic environment around us," said Simon Bazalgette, group chief executive.

"However, British racing is still significantly underfunded. We need the Government to press on with a legislative framework that allows racing to receive a fair commercial return from the betting industry."

The Jockey Club said funds from the levy fell from £115 million in 2007/08 to 65 million in 2011-12 because an increasing number of bookmakers moved operations offshore. The levy also does not cover wagers made via betting exchanges which connect punters online - a fast-growing activity.

Growth from major racing festivals, media rights, hospitality and sponsorship helped the Jockey Club to increase operating profit in 2011 to 19.2 million pounds, up from 18.3 million in 2010, it said.

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