UK Racing- Reduction in prize-money ‘inevitable’ once season resumes

A programme outlining the races that will take place once horseracing resumes in the UK is due to be released next week, with prize money facing a significant reduction due to retail closures.

The sport has been on hold since 17 March, however, the Resumption of Racing Group has stated that it will develop a provisional programme for the first seven days of racing once the lockdown is lifted, regardless of the resumption date.

The group, which comprises representatives from the British Horseracing Authority, the Horsemen’s Group, the Racecourse Association and the Horserace Betting Levy Board, said:

“To help trainers plan, during the next week we will be developing a provisional programme for the first seven days of racing following resumption – whatever the resumption date. 

“We will then subsequently publish the rest of the provisional programme up until the end of June. This will be as close as possible to the original programme for the period, which means we will be looking to stage roughly the same number of races by type, class and distance.

“Ahead of this, we will issue a fixture cancellation notice for all fixtures that were originally scheduled to take place during May and June. This simply reflects the fact that we will be publishing a new provisional programme and does not seek to pre-empt or pre-judge any government decisions around lockdown or resumption.”

“We will also look to confirm prize money values as soon as possible. In normal circumstances, racecourses provide approximately half of prize money, but with betting shops, which drive media rights income, closed and no crowds, their contributions will be significantly impacted. Every effort will be made to keep prize money as high as possible, but reductions below recent levels are inevitable.”

The group expects that a phased approach will be necessary for the sport to restart, but stated that ‘it is possible that not all phases will be required’.

The statement continued: “As explained in previous updates, the plan for resumption is based on a phased approach that supports the transition of racing back to a normal fixture list, in a controlled and measured way. Different scenarios – or ‘phases’ – have been developed, which can be implemented and adapted as circumstances require, in accordance with public health guidelines.

“It’s possible that not all phases will be required, but at this stage, all scenarios are being considered so that we are prepared to race under whatever circumstances exist at the time that racing is able restart.

“In the early stages of this model, racing would resume behind closed doors under strict conditions, at locations that meet specific criteria around risk mitigation and infection control. This may include full quarantine conditions at secured sites if absolutely necessary, or behind closed doors racing, with sites limited to those that are able to meet strict hygiene conditions, social distancing measures and appropriate medical provision.

“Under the strictest infection control scenarios, attendance at the site(s) would be limited to staff essential to delivering the race fixture. These restrictions on personnel will be continually reviewed and gradually eased to accommodate connections, including owners and trainers, in line with Government guidance.”

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