Thursday 19th July 2007

Levy Board Makes £5.5m Cut In Prize Money Contribution

The Horserace Betting Levy Board's contribution to the main Prize Money Fund will be cut from £55m in 2007 to £49.5m in 2008.

The reduction is the regrettable, but necessary result of a continuing decline in Levy income from a peak of £102m in 2003/04 to £90m in 2006/07. The Prize Money cut is based on a current Levy income estimate of £85.5m in 2007/08, which, in the current very uncertain climate, will be the subject of continuing review.

Also cut are the contributions to the Breeders' Prizes Scheme, which will fall from a core level of £1.8m in 2007 (£2.010m including the carry over of a 2006 underspend) to £1.62m in 2008, and to the Divided Races Fund, down from £950k in 2007 to £855k next year.

The Board's contribution to Appearance Money, which is integral to the VAT Scheme for Racehorse Owners, will not be reduced but will be frozen in 2008 at its current level of £1.5m.

For the first time, the Board is making a contribution to the BHB’s Development Fund, which supports races primarily designed for race planning purposes and not necessarily commercial. The allocation, which will be made from the net interest on the HFL Sale Proceeds, will total £550k in 2008.

The announcement of these allocations is accompanied by a ‘health warning’ from the Board that further cuts would be inevitable if income forecasts are not achieved. Equally, if yields prove higher than forecast, additional investment can be considered.

Levy Board Chairman, Robert Hughes, commented:

"We make these cuts with a heavy heart, but continuing pressure on over the counter British horseracing business, together with the uncertainties created by changes in the betting shop picture market and other factors make them inevitable.

"We welcome the BHA’s root and branch strategic review of the Fixture List and its current review of costs and expenditure priorities with an eye firmly fixed on value for money. The new Authority is clearly making a pragmatic and constructive start."