Making a connection between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Willie Mullins would normally require a huge leap of imagination. But George Osborne’s ringing endorsement of a racing right in his Budget speech actually links very nicely with Mullins’ pre-Cheltenham call that prize-money for the big Festival events should be doubled.

The connection is simply this. To achieve the level of prize-money increases Ireland’s champion trainer believes we should have will undoubtedly require a racing right to replace the levy as a means of funding British racing.

The reaction of some journalists to Willie Mullins was to point out that his very wealthy owners are much more involved in racing because of the pleasure they get from winning big events than because of prize-money.

Championship races and festival meetings are racing’s most natural marketing tool

But this misses the point. It ignores a vital element that drives this and every other sport. Horseracing lives or dies on its top performers. It is the competition between the best horses in the best races that raises the profile of racing. Championship races and festival meetings are racing’s most natural marketing tool. Without ensuring they are protected and built upon, the attraction of racing to the general public will gradually diminish.

There is a natural correlation between the status of a race and the amount of prize-money attached to that race. It is for this reason that the grading structure of racing demands, for instance, that a Grade 1 event carries significantly more prize-money than a Grade 2 and so on. To allow the best races to become uncompetitive in prize-money terms is to allow the foundations on which they are built to start to erode.

It is, of course, a different argument as to why racing must balance its very limited resources between quality and quantity. If directing more money at the top means less for the industry’s grass roots, then this is a better reason for not doing so. Small owners leave racing almost daily because of high costs and low prize-money, with the inevitable and destructive effect on the horse population which in turn translates into small fields, less competitive racing, less betting and less money coming into the sport.

The truth is that the racing industry is in a constant state of grappling with these conundrums with one hand tied behind its back. Our current system of funding the sport does not provide us with the means of making the right informed decisions as to where money is best directed. The sport’s two major sources of funding, from the levy and media rights, are driven by bookmakers, and we rely largely on their say-so as to how we maximize income from our race programme.

How much better it will be when racing can sell a ‘right to bet’ so that wherever any betting operator takes a bet on British horseracing they have to pay the rate that we, the racing industry, will decide.

Until that time, we must listen to the arguments of Willie Mullins and his owners who, having laid out fortunes for their horses, see the many millions of betting pounds that change hands at Cheltenham and wonder why so relatively little finds its way back into prize-money at the biggest betting meeting of the year.

We must, however, also listen to those small owners who, whilst not expecting to make money out of racing horses, do expect to operate within an economic model where their losses are not so great that they are driven out of the sport.

But most of all we must hasten the arrival of a funding system that will not only close the overseas betting loophole, thereby giving racing a further £25 million a year, but will also make us masters of our own destiny.

Now, with thanks particularly to Newmarket’s energetic MP Matthew Hancock, the Minister for Sport and Tourism Helen Grant and the Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford, a racing right is within our grasp.