UK Horse Racing’s Recovery Plan

August 25, 2020

- Grant Whittington

British Horseracing Authority industry leaders, jockeys, and racecourse owners have all settled on the details of the next stage of the sector’s response to the global health crisis.

Horse Racing was the first big sport to get back into the saddle after the enforced shutdowns, opening up again on June 1 this year. And those involved have not been idle since. The new plan has a focus on keeping important investors, supporting owners, and getting bums on seats when spectators are allowed to come back to the races.

With schedules set to expand this month, more prize money is going to start becoming available from the Horserace Betting Levy Board. Wagering revenue and TV audiences have been good since things resumed thanks to extensive media coverage and even bettors not normally interested in the ponies have been wooed by the fact that nothing else was happening.

Getting Back to Normalcy

Racecourses are struggling particularly in the current climate and can’t even hope to recover until Joe and Jane Public are allowed to pass through the turnstiles once more. No one knows just yet when this is going to happen, so this situation remains at a standstill along with live betting at the tracks themselves. Prize money at all levels is thus going to be lower than normal until the green light for attending races is given.

Ensuring that investors based outside of the UK remain interested in British Horse Racing is an imperative, non-negotiable in terms of the sector’s survival. Different revenue streams are being considered to ensure that this is the case and to help the industry gain good financial footing once more going forward.

One of the steps is the forthcoming re-evaluation of the UK Gambling Act, which governs wagering in this country. The review is being undertaken to establish more support for Horse Racing. 

Go Big or Go Home

Lofty industry goals have been laid out as part of the recovery plan, with many aiming to ensure the sport returns to normal race day events as soon as possible without compromising on anyone’s health and safety. Calls are additionally being made to slash expenses and increase flexibility as the sector brings new income-generating opportunities to bear.

Details of a spending plan will need to be hashed out for central funding and rules may need to be refined to ensure we hold on to big investors. Establishing a consistent wagering experience that is high quality is also vital in fostering growth and sustainability over the long-term for racing in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. This is particularly true in terms of the downswing in economics overall.

Commenting on the launch of the scheme, Racecourse Association Chief Executive Officer David Armstrong said that all the necessary components need to be brought together in a single clear action plan. This is the only way to ensure that these ambitious goals succeed.

BHA CEO Nick Rust also weighed in, saying that agreement from everyone related to the Racing industry is very important going forward. Rust stated that the way preparations were made for the June resumption of operations proved that working together is what gets the job done. He added that sector leaders’ total commitment to the scheme demonstrates their ongoing willingness to keep working together to overcome obstacles in the future.

The Matter as it Now Stands

Work is currently being coordinated via the industry’s disease-related group which has kept up its weekly meetings since June. All of the plan’s workstreams are already unfolding, with the BHA Members Committee meeting very recently to give the published plan the final ok.

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