The British Horseracing Authority revealed on Thursday that minimum prize-money values will increase at all levels from the start of September, in what amounts to a big boost to the sport.
The middle and grassroots tiers of British racing, which the BHA protected with a serious of measures back in May, will now return to their pre-Covid levels. Class 1 races and Heritage Handicaps will have their funds increased to be at 75% of their levels before racing’s suspension.
This increase in prize-money comes courtesy of the Levy Board, which has agreed to support the sport further for the final four months of the year with an increased 50 per cent contribution of £26.6 million.
Clarity has been given to all involved with the fixture list for September to December also having been published. While it remains largely the same to the fixtures published last year, a number of adjustments have been made.
A maximum of five fixtures will take place on a daily basis so that the Covid-19 protocols can be successfully implemented. To reduce the risk of spreading infection, all participants can only attend one race meeting per day.
Fixture times will be scheduled to avoid race clashes where possible and they will generally comprise seven races, with one race permitted to divide. To assist the horse population, up to two races will be allowed to divide at floodlit meetings during this period.
Additional opportunities for horses will be created through a programme of five floodlit fixtures that will be added to the six days in November when there is a break in the Flat season.
The fixtures between Christmas and New Year, including the eight meetings set to be staged on Boxing Day, will be reviewed at a later date.
Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, said: “As we enter the autumn and racehorse owners begin to make their plans for 2021, this increase in minimum prize-money levels across all levels from September is a critical part of the sport’s recovery plans.
“Owners have displayed great patience in recent months, and it is crucial that prize-money grows at all levels as quickly as possible. Whilst there is a long way to go, the increase in minimum values together with the re-introduction of the appearance money scheme are clearly steps in the right direction.
“We have learnt a lot from a number of the fixture innovations that were put in place as part of the emergency fixture list, some of which will continue for the remainder of the year.
“Others may return in the future, but it is evident that the return to a more familiar fixture list, at least for now, will provide a boost to industry revenues, particularly as we look forward to crowds returning to racecourses later in the year.
“This has only been possible due to the Levy Board significantly increasing its support of prize-money compared with its original plans and we would like to express our gratitude for their approach as we seek to plot a long-term course for our sport to recover from its current challenges.”