ROA President Rachel Hood used the association’s annual general meeting in London to outline the need to continue to work to raise prize-money levels, with £120m the target for next year.

An increase in prize-money in 2013 to an expected amount of at least £110 million raised the return to owners by just three per cent to 24%.

In her address to ROA members and industry figures, Hood outlined three objectives to be achieved for owners in the coming months:

  • The Government to recognise the economic impact of racing and that it is responsible for the employment of tens of thousands of people, and to be true to its word and bring forward measures to improve racing’s funding;
  • The bookmakers to engage constructively in on-going talks and conclude a deal with racing that would form a basis of a much closer relationship;
  • All racecourses to enter into prize-money agreements in order that together with Horsemen and the BHA, we can work much more co-operatively to grow the sport’s revenues.

“The reality remains that the betting market has evolved and British racing continues to be short-changed by a piece of outdated legislation introduced in the early 1960s,” said Hood.

“I would urge the Minister [for Sport and Tourism, Hugh Robertson] to remove this issue from his ‘too difficult tray’ and display some desire and commitment to facilitate a fair, sustainable and enforceable mechanism that would enable racing to receive a reasonable return from all betting on British racing, not just the diminishing portion that takes place with bookmakers based in the UK.”

The ROA President added that contractual prize-money agreements were required to ensure an acceptable commitment from media rights income to prize funds in the future and applauded those racecourses that “put a reasonable share of media revenues into prize-money”.

She said: “The commitment from the RCA and its members to introduce contractual agreements with the Horsemen’s Group under Philip Freedman’s leadership, and BHA, is welcomed.

“Any racecourse that isn’t prepared to act appropriately must be left in absolutely no doubt that horsemen will, quite rightly, choose to race their horses elsewhere.
“Progress on issues relating to betting and racecourses is essential if we are going to achieve a step change for members that would see prize-money of at least £120 million, a realistic target I believe the sport should set for 2014.”

Hood also welcomed the appointment of Steve Harman as the incoming BHA chairman, who takes up his post from July 1, 2013.

She said: “Whilst he has been involved in racehorse ownership under both codes for many years in Britain, Steve also has enjoyed a very successful corporate career and brings an international perspective to the numerous challenges the sport faces.”