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Government pledges £40m to racing in fight against Covid

Racing's leaders have welcomed the government’s decision to provide up to £40 million of loans for horseracing.

The sum was announced today as part of a package to provide financial assistance to major spectator sports.

The money is intended to help courses suffering financially from the absence of spectators, who have been unable to attend racing since March this year other than at two pilot events. This has led to a significant number of redundancies at racecourses. It has also reduced the flow of funds to racing’s participants, which in turn hits the rural economies where so many are based.

Racing behind closed doors at Newmarket's July Course this summer. Picture Edward Whitaker/ Racing Post
Racing behind closed doors at Newmarket's July Course this summer. Picture Edward Whitaker/ Racing Post

Working with racecourses and horsemen, the British Horseracing Authority put in a detailed submission to government at the beginning of October. This included an updated assessment of the economic impact of the absence of spectators for a further six months until the end of March. This estimated that racing would lose a further £70 million in this period, including direct losses to racecourses from lost ticket sales and the consequential reduction in returns to the sport’s participants. Individual racecourses, coordinated by the RCA, put in financial information to support the submission.

A joint statement from the authority, the Racecourse Association (RCA) and The Horsemen’s Group (HG) said: "We welcome the announcement that up to £40m of loans will be made available for British racing. This recognises racing's position as the UK's second biggest spectator sport, the many livelihoods it supports and the financial peril faced across our industry.

Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA, said: "The support for racing recognises the sport’s position as the second biggest spectator sport in the UK and the financial peril faced by the tens of thousands who depend upon racing for their livelihoods. We are grateful to DCMS and its ministers and officials who have come together with their colleagues at the treasury to secure this assistance for horseracing. We also thank the many MPs who have supported the need to help the racing businesses in their constituencies. Once again, this demonstrates that when racing speaks to government with one voice, we are so much more effective.

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