The Alizeti consortium has secured the future of the Tote by striking a deal to purchase an initial 25% share of the pool betting operation, with an option to purchase the remaining 75%.
The deal, said to be worth approximately £150 million, has been reached with Fred Done, the founder and CEO of Betfred who acquired the Tote from the UK government in 2011.
Spearheaded by racehorse owner and breeder Alex Frost, the group has set about modernising the Tote’s role in British horse-racing for the public and all stakeholders.
Positive discussions are ongoing between Alizeti and Britbet, a rival pool-betting operation being set up by 55 British racecourses, which raises the prospect of collaboration between the two rivals once the Tote’s monopoly expires in July.
Speaking about the deal, Done said: “Following the purchase of the Tote in 2011 we have strived relentlessly to both expand the business and maintain our promises to government in respect of jobs and direct contribution to racing. Looking beyond our exclusive licence expiring in July I am convinced we will have an extremely strong business which is further boosted by this partnership deal.
“Alex (Frost) and his team’s enthusiasm for racing coupled with their excellent vision for the future of the UK Tote is most impressive. It is for this reason I am delighted to join with Alizeti in moving the Tote forward to the next exciting chapter in its history.”
The consortium, on a stated mission to bring the industry ‘Together for the Tote’, unites a team of experts including Alex Frost, one of the youngest ever Managing Directors at Merrill Lynch, and Chairman Eamonn Wilmott, a former board member of the British Horseracing Association (BHA) and a pioneer of racing technologies such as in-running software platform Total Performance Data (TPD).
Frost said: “Fred has achieved incredible things in the industry. He has delivered on all his promises regarding contributions to racing and securing jobs. I am tremendously excited about our shared vision for a truly iconic brand within the sport of horseracing, and for where the Tote can go next – both domestically and on a global stage.
“Our supporters are dedicated racing people who, collectively, own and train more than 1,000 racehorses worldwide – and we’re excited and determined to work together for the Tote. This is a defining moment for the future funding structure of British racing.
“We want the Tote to help secure racing’s finances for generations to come and I’m looking forward to sharing our progress with race fans about new products and technologies in due course.”
The revitalisation of the Tote, first established in 1928 to safeguard the welfare of the industry by distributing profits for “purposes conducive to the improvement of breeds of horses or the sport of horseracing”, has found favour with key industry figures including leading trainer John Gosden and 20-time Champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy.
Gosden said: “The Tote is one of British racing’s most cherished brands and to see it revitalised to reach its past heights would be fantastic for the sport. This is absolutely the right team to make this happen. I am confident they can unite all stakeholders to help the industry at a time when it needs it most.”
McCoy added: “A successful Tote means big prize pots for race fans and money going back into the sport. It’s great to see the Tote will continue to be owned by real horsemen with racing’s best interests at heart to provide just that.”
Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association, commented: “The retention of owners in British racing is of paramount importance and critical to ensuring that the number of horses in training increases.
“Whilst one of the challenges at the moment is sole owners leaving the sport, it is encouraging to see a group of owners and breeders coming together to help build a strong Tote to benefit all of racing, including through an increased contribution to prize money; a huge positive for the industry.