Newmarket: Jockey Club reports double-digit underlying growth in revenues and profits

THE Jockey Club, the biggest commercial group in British horse racing, which owns courses including Newmarket, has reported double-digit growth in underlying turnover and operating profit for 2011.

Total turnover across the group, which also owns the Cheltenham, Aintree and Epsom Downs race courses, increased from �138million in 2010 to �139.4m last year.

This was despite an �8.8m reduction in industry funding, adjusted for which underlying turnover was �10.2million or 10% ahead year-on-year. Non-racing revenue totalled �19.7m, representing 16.5% of group turnover.

Operating profits increased from �18.3m to �19.2m, with growth from major racing festivals, media rights, hospitality sales, sponsorship and the loss of fewer fixtures to bad weather all contributing.

On an underlying basis, excluding the injection of an additional �3.4m into prize money, operating profit was �4.3m or 23% ahead compared with the previous year. In all, a record �16.4m was invested in prize money, representing 61.4% of operating profits.

Bottom line profit, after tax, interest, depreciation and waivers, came in ahead of expectations at �2.3m and group debt was reduced by �10.3m during the year.

Simon Bazalgette, group chief executive at The Jockey Club, said: “By working hard to meet and exceed our targets in 2011, we were able to afford to contribute more than ever to British racing in the form of prize money, despite the challenging economic environment around us.”

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However, he said British racing was still “significantly underfunded” and it needed the Government to press on with a legislative framework that allowed it to receive “a fair commercial return” from the betting industry.

“While this is being worked through, we will see little benefit in the next couple of years, so it is more important than ever for The Jockey Club to perform well for the good of British racing, in order to invest the maximum possible into our sport,” he added.