Prize fund boost for racing

The runners make their way down the back straight at Lingfield

British racing's grassroots are to be given a shot in the arm of nearly £10 million in 2018 when a record number of 1,508 fixtures have been scheduled.

The funding is being targeted at mid and lower-tier racing through increases to prize money funding supported by a new appearance money scheme and race incentive fund.

The £9.7m represents £8m of new Levy funding plus the reallocation of £1.7m of existing Levy funding for prize money that will largely now be met by racecourses' contributions.

As a result, most races in Britain will have a total race value of at least £6,000 from 2018.

A total of 1,508 fixtures have been scheduled, 11 more than planned in 2017.

That is part of a package of proposals by the British Horseracing Authority with the support of the Racecourse Association and Horsemen's Group with the aim of delivering three key objectives for the sport – supporting ownership, delivering more competitive and compelling racing, and increasing customer engagement.

Richard Wayman, chief operating officer for the BHA, said: "The sport cannot thrive and grow without strong foundations. Although there has been growth in total prize money in recent years, much of this has been at the top end.

"Targeting grassroots with extra funding will help racing's participants to maintain their involvement in the sport, keeping more horses in training, as well as helping with the recruitment and retention of staff to care for our horses.

"This will support the delivery of more competitive racing, which will be better positioned in the long-term to support the growth of betting on the sport and ensure that future revenues are enhanced."

Of the fixtures, 910 are on the Flat with 569(-1 compared to 2017) on turf and 341 (+15) on the all-weather and 598 (-3) over jumps.

The proposals are subject to the availability of forecast Levy funding and the approval of the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

There will be a week's break from jumps racing after the Bet365 finale at Sandown on April 28 with the new season starting on the following Saturday at Uttoxeter.

Other proposals include about 20 Monday and Tuesday afternoon fixtures, capable of being staged under floodlights in the winter, twilight fixtures on Monday evenings in September and October and an incentive fund will offer support for the staging of a fixture worth at least £70,000 on Sundays.

Wayman added: "In order to achieve growth we need the Fixture List and race programme to work in a manner that meets our customer's requirements and, in doing so, generates enhanced revenues for the sport with broadly the same number of fixtures.

"As customer and betting habits change it is essential that our sport evolves with them."

Read More at Sky Sports Racing

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