Wednesday 22nd February 2012

Levy Board Funding Helps Brave Cold Spell

The Levy Board’s £70,000 prize money contribution to Newbury’s fixture on Friday 17th February was the culmination of the Board’s recent investment in additional fixtures and races to counteract the effects of the bad weather in the early part of February.

A total of 36 fixtures were abandoned between 1st January and mid-February, more than double that in the same period in 2011 (17).

The Levy Board moved quickly to provide some £230,000 in prize money and some £100,000 in payments towards racecourse costs to:

• Convert three all weather track (AWT) fixtures to afternoons from their existing twilight (late afternoon/early evening) slots.

• Programme four additional fixtures: two AWT Flat, one AWT jumpers’ bumper fixture and one turf jump fixture.

• Transfer Newbury’s ‘Super Saturday’ fixture, including the move of the Betfair Novices’ Steeple Chase (registered as the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase), to the following Friday.

Members of the Levy Board’s Betting Patterns Working Party – which brings together executives from the Levy Board, racing and betting – worked cooperatively to protect Levy income and also to ensure important racing opportunities at a critical time of year for Jumping.

Calculating the benefit to Levy which can be ascribed specifically to the additional and transferred fixtures is difficult but the Levy Board estimates that, overall, the conversion of fixtures to afternoon slots and the programming of additional fixtures have been of net benefit to the Levy. This would be expected given that the fixtures moved into Levy Board Criteria slots made vacant by abandoned fixtures, the Criteria being the optimum pattern of fixture slots agreed between the Levy Board, racing and betting.

Douglas Erskine-Crum, Levy Board Chief Executive, said: “We are again very pleased to have been able to play a key role alongside many others in keeping the sport going at a difficult time. There is great co-operation between racing, betting and the Levy Board when it comes to adding in fixtures and races at short notice. Most of the time, there is a financial win in doing so although on occasions the Levy Board will want to help for other reasons, such as to provide valuable racing opportunities at important times of the year.”

Ruth Quinn, BHA Racing Director, said: “The BHA Racing Department worked extremely hard to provide replacement fixture opportunities during the period of bad weather and is grateful to the Levy Board for its financial support. The triumph of Newbury's Friday fixture was particularly satisfying, as so much work went into it behind the scenes to make it possible and the success of the Jumpers' Bumpers cards was also very pleasing.”

Simon Clare, Coral PR Director, said: “The value of rescheduling major jump meetings like Newbury is not just measured in terms of levy generation from the day itself but also the vital showcasing of horse racing’s star performers – equine and human – to the sport’s dedicated fans. The big race days and top class horses fuel the popularity of horseracing, and this then underpins turnover and levy generation day in day out throughout the year.”

Steve Johnson, Betfair Director of Racing, said: “It is vital for the sport and for Levy funds that we keep the show on the road. Following several rough winters it has been great to see the whole industry working together to rearrange fixtures at short notice. The last month is testament to the progress made by the Levy Board, BHA and the racecourses in particular. At Betfair we were glad to play a part too, in Friday’s rearranged Betfair Hurdle meeting, where we kept the prizemoney at the same levels to maintain the top class field.”

Mike O'Kane, Ladbrokes Business Director, said: “The prompt action taken by the Levy Board, BHA and individual racecourses to amend the racing programme was very welcome. The cooperation now being shown between all stakeholders under the chairmanship of the Levy Board team is ensuring that periods of lost turf racing as we have just experienced have not had a serious detrimental impact on the racing product. I look forward to working with all on the further optimisation of the 2012 fixture programme and beyond.”