21st April 2015

Our Annual Review & Outlook: A record year, but challenges ahead

Following hot on the heels of fantastic racing at the Cheltenham Festival and the Crabbies Grand National Festival at Aintree, the next milestone of the year is the publication of our Annual Review.

I am pleased to report that in 2014 we grew our turnover as a Group by 5.1 percent to a record £171.2 million (2013: £162.9 million). This is almost double the pace of UK economic growth, which was 2.6 percent in 2014, and shows that we are not only benefiting from the economic recovery, but from the significant improvements we have made to our management structure and capabilities to ensure we take maximum advantage.Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 09.45.58

This was the sixth consecutive year of business growth for The Jockey Club, with all profits we make being invested back to racing. It is a fantastic performance by all the teams across the Group.

I was delighted we were able to contribute a record £19.1 million to prize money in 2014, up from £18.2 million in 2013, making a total prize pool at our racecourses to £43.7 million. Prize money is essential to the sport’s participants and competitiveness, and we are looking to make a new record contribution of £19.9 million from our resources in 2015 (subject to abandonments).

In total, The Jockey Club reinvested £55.2 million into British racing in 2014, up by £21.7 million on 2013, both through contribution to prize money and through investment in facilities for both the sport’s participants and customers. As The Jockey Club’s vision is for British racing to maintain and build on its position as the best in the world, this is the measure by which I must judge success.

To achieve this, it is vital that racing is a popular sport in the UK, open for all in our society to enjoy and sustainable financially, with a pyramid that produces and attracts the very best in the world at its top and a broad grassroots base at its foundation.

The Jockey Club will always ensure the Thoroughbred is at the heart of what we do. Along with many people I am excited about the quality of racing for 2015, the prospects soon to take to the track and the returning stars who have delighted racegoers, viewers, listeners and punters alike.

Equally the customer, in the widest possible sense and including horsemen, must continue to be placed at the centre of our offering as it evolves and develops. We must act on what they tell us and exceed expectations wherever possible, as we have sought to do when investing more than £400 million, just in our facilities and prize money contributions combined, from our resources over the last decade.

Beyond the revenue streams currently in our gift, as both the key plank of racing’s industry funding base needs addressing urgently if we are to achieve the long-term sustainability needed to unlock British racing’s potential. Significant progress has been made towards replacing the Levy, but the coming years are critical in terms of a one-off legislative solution, introducing a sound commercial framework, negotiating a fair market value and utilising funds to maximise success for our sport and benefits for the betting industry in return.

The integrity of our sport is vital, as is its leadership. I welcomed the appointment of Nick Rust as Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). He is passionate about racing, smart and a consensus-builder.

It was encouraging that upon taking up the role, Nick publicly prioritised the formation of a tri-partite industry stakeholder structure for British racing involving the BHA, racecourses and horsemen. This would formally unite stakeholders to provide the relevant authority and mandate to make decisions on all key matters in the sport.

This governance structure is necessary for the introduction of a Racing Right funding system, which will require a new racing industry body to replace the Government’s Horserace Betting Levy Board.

My message to all – whether our dedicated and hardworking people, a racing fan, a stakeholder, including horsemen and fellow racecourses, a commercial partner, including betting operators, or other interested party – is that together we can achieve far more than if we act separately.

If we are willing to act in the best long-term interests of the sport and leave short-term self-interest at the door, we will all be better off in the future. This is our British racing and today it is enjoyed by millions. Let us work together to make that millions more in the years to come.

Download the full Annual Review & Outlook 2015 (PDF)