#UK RACING: Jockey Club To Cut Purse Contribution

Cheltenham 2 -2021-Crowd-Shot

More bad news emerged for British racing April 8 when it was revealed the Jockey Club is to cut its contribution to purses this year as falling attendance figures at last month's Cheltenham Festival and the continued impact of affordability checks have hit revenues.

Jockey Club chief executive Nevin Truesdale said the decision, which will result in an overall reduction of around £1.5 million ($1.9 million) in prize money from May until the end of the year, was symptomatic of the "very, very significant financial headwinds" it is facing.

Among the consequences of the decision will be that five Jockey Club fixtures will lose Premier meeting status.

The decision was met with frustration by the Thoroughbred Group—the umbrella organization representing owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, and stable staff—that said its own members were facing cost pressures in their businesses that would not be aided by prize-money cuts.

Jack Connor, the Thoroughbred Group's racing and analytics executive, said: "The Thoroughbred Group is obviously disappointed with the Jockey Club's announcement on 2024 prize money. While the challenging trading environment is understood by our members, many of whom run businesses themselves, they will undoubtedly be frustrated to see prize money reduced at a time when they are facing their own cost pressures.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the industry to grow the sport and put it on a more prosperous trajectory."

In January the Jockey Club said it would be making a record executive contribution of £31.8m to prize money this year, leading to an overall total of £60.1m. That executive contribution will now fall by around £750,000 to £31.1m, also the figure for 2023, and with consequent reductions in levy funding and entry fees overall prize money will drop to £58.6m.

In a communication to stakeholders about the decision, the Jockey Club said it had "considered the importance of participants at all levels of the sport when making these decisions and we have revised our prize-money levels accordingly".

Total attendance at the Cheltenham Festival in March, which is hugely important to the Jockey Club's financial year, was down by 10,600.

Speaking as the Jockey Club prepares for this week's Grand National meeting at Aintree, Truesdale told the Racing Post: "We are still facing some very, very significant financial headwinds, and that has continued into 2024. Obviously, we have still got the uncertainty around our online revenues, and we can still see some of that coming through.

"We are still being impacted significantly by cost of living, and it's no secret Cheltenham is a big commercial driver every year, as is Aintree.

"It's also no secret that when we announced the crowd figures for Cheltenham they were down over the first three days. Not massively, I think it was 12,000 over the first three days, but that has a significant knock-on effect. We can see a few other trading uncertainties as well."



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