Town could cash in on racing shake up

NEWMARKET could cash in on a £40 million bonanza arising from revolutionary plans for the future of horseracing.The chairman of racing's governing body has announced far-reaching changes which will irrevocably alter the sport, generating extra cash, with increased prize money and more race meetings every year.

NEWMARKET could cash in on a £40 million bonanza arising from revolutionary plans for the future of horseracing.

The chairman of racing's governing body has announced far-reaching changes which will irrevocably alter the sport, generating extra cash, with increased prize money and more race meetings every year.

Peter Savill, chairman of the British Horseracing Board(BHB), promised yesterdaythat by 2006 the number of fixtures will increase from 1,341 to 1,500, generating a projected extra income of £40 million pounds for the industry as a whole and an increase in prize money of around £30 million.

Newmarket can be expected to compete for its share of the extra racing fixtures, particularly in light of its planned £6 million all-weather track with which it is hoped to provide all-year round racing.


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Mr Savill also predicted that the changes would mean an extra million racegoers visiting the nation's courses, which could provide a further boost for Newmarket's tourist industry.

His announcements were made at the board's annual general meeting in London yesterdaywhere he outlined an incentive scheme for racecourses, whereby some prize money will be allocated on the strength of how much is wagered on a particular fixture by betting shop punters.

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This could prove lucrative for Newmarket with high profile fixtures such as the Guineas meeting and the July meeting, by attracting better competition and consequently higher attendances.

Also the BHB receives £110 million annually from the sale of the fixtures list and other data relating to the sport, and racecourses can each expect to receive an "all-encompassing" payment from this income, which is expected to rise to £140 million by 2006.

Many members of Newmarket's racing community were last night

still trying to digest the contents of the 42 page Modernisation of Racing document issued at the meeting.

Luca Cumani, one of Britain's most successful trainers, was present at the meeting and welcomed Mr Savill's announcements, which he said could only be good news for the Suffolk town's economy.

He told the EADT: "It was very positive and forward looking statement which will work well for racing, and anything that's good for racing has to be good for Newmarket."

Mr Savill, who reaches the end of his six year tenure at the BHB at the end of the month, told the meeting that the Modernisation of Racing document represented a provisional agreement with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) on the sport's future.

OFT had initially proposed a restructuring of racing, which many industry insiders feared could ruin the sport and lead to the closure of many smaller courses, which were unable to compete in what would have been an open fixture list, but Mr Savill said this eventuality had now been avoided.

It had also been feared that jumps racing would lose out to the more lucrative flat racing but under the agreement both disciplines will operate on separate fixtures lists.

Mr Savill said: "Punters, spectators, racecourses, owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys, stable staff and bookmakers will all be better of as a result of the modernisation of the sport."

The new proposals are expected to be implemented by January 2006.

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