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Previous months 2011: May - April - March - February - January.

Previous months 2010: December - November - October - September - August - July - June - May - April - March - February - January.

2009 - December/November/October/September/August/July/June/May.

 

Posted on 28/06/2011.

Lisa Delany nominated for Pride of Racing Awards.

LISA DELANY - the General Manager of the Jockeys Employment & Training Scheme for almost eight years - has been nominated for the 2011 Pride of Racing Awards.

The annual Betfair-sponsored event recognises significant contributions to horse racing by individuals involved in the sport.

She is joined as one of 29 nominees by both Anna O'Brien, a member of the Professional Jockeys Association's Jockeys Injury Management Team, and also 16-times Champion Jump Jockey AP McCoy.

Lisa was nominated by PJA Chief Executive Kevin Darley who said:

“With the support of the PJA and JETS Public Relations and Business Manager Sandy Thwaites, Lisa has persuaded jockeys that there is no stigma in planning ahead early for life after racing.

 "Through putting herself in their shoes and her encyclopaedic knowledge of retraining opportunities, Lisa has maintained the self-esteem of these sportsmen and women in what is acknowledged to be a very difficult - but inevitable - career transition, and often in the face of serious injury. She has pioneered the importance of media training both to improve their performance as jockeys and to build communication skills for the future."

Anna O'Brien is a member of the PJA's cherished Jockeys Injury Management (JIM) Team. JIM Team members are all highly qualified physical therapists with many years' experience of treating professional athletes. They are managed by the PJA's Medical Advisor, Dr Anna-Louise Mackinnon, and provide a highly competent and comprehensive physiotherapy service to Jockeys at race meetings.

Fellow awards nominee and PJA President AP McCoy said:

"Anna is outstanding in so many ways and Jockeys are very fortunate to have someone with her experience to call on. The passion she has for her work is evident and she will go ‘outside the call of duty’ to help Jockeys in any way she can. A real star and a lot of Jockeys are indebted to her."

Current Champion Flat Jockey Paul Hanagan said:

"Anna is very good at her job. Any problem you have she will sort out. She makes a big difference especially when you are riding every day."

The nominees will next be reduced to 12, of whom six will receive Pride of Racing awards at Epsom Down's evening fixture on 14 July.

Posted on 15/06/2011.

Caroline Gray steps down at Fairyhouse.

Caroline Gray, General Manager of Fairyhouse Racecourse, has announced she will not return to work at the end of her current period of maternity leave and therefore is leaving HRI with effect from 03 June 2011.

 Caroline joined the Irish Horseracing Authority in 2000, working in a number of finance positions including Group Controller of the newly formed Horse Racing Ireland in 2002 prior to becoming Manager of the HRI Betting Division in 2005.  In 2007 she took over as General Manager of Fairyhouse Racecourse and has operated very effectively in that position since then, securing the Ladbrokes Sponsorship contract for the Irish Grand National and overseeing significant rationalisation at the Co. Meath venue.

Discussing her decision, Caroline said:

“I have really enjoyed my 11 years working in the horse racing industry. However, I feel the time has now come to move on and in particular to spend more time with my young family. I would like to acknowledge the support of all those in the industry with whom I came in contact over the years and in particular my work colleagues in HRI and Fairyhouse.”

Brian Kavanagh, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland which owns Fairyhouse as part of its Racecourse Division, said:

“I would like to thank Caroline for the significant contribution which she has made to Irish racing and offer her every good wish for the future.”

Pending an overall review of our racecourse structures, Peter Roe will continue as Acting General Manager at Fairyhouse, and Nessa Joyce will continue in the same role at Tipperary.

Posted on 30/05/2011.

Musselburgh seek special sponsor.

The Edinburgh Cup, run at Musselburgh on Derby Day, follows only the Ayr Gold Cup and Scottish Grand National in terms of prize money. The inaugural Edinburgh Cup last year pulled in top class entries from the UK’s leading stables, producing a top class winner in the William Haggis trained Harris Tweed.

Musselburgh Racecourse boss, Bill Farnsworth, has made clear his ambition is to take the £80,000 race up to the £100,000 mark and he believes that as Channel 4’s premier meeting on Saturday June 4, that it will attract the interest of a major sponsor.

Discussing the situation concerning the prestigious race, Mr Farnsworth said:

“We are delighted the Tote saw the value in supporting the Edinburgh Cup and we are looking for a partnership to continue the race sponsorship in 2012 and beyond, which can help realise our ambitions of making this a £100,000 race.

“As the second richest Scottish flat race of the season, it pulls in entries from all the top stables and has created a lot of interest in the industry. The Epsom Derby is later in the day and the Edinburgh Cup is the feature handicap, on a day when racing is firmly in the public spotlight.  With Channel 4’s continued backing we think it is a very attractive proposition for a major bookmaker chain or similar high profile business.”

Farnsworth has taken the somewhat unconventional route of advertising for a sponsor. He said:

“We can’t sit on our hands and have to be innovative in how we conduct our business. If an advert generates interest in this premium race and we secure a three year agreement then it will be well worth it.

“This is a significant fixture in the flat racing calendar and we’re keen to build on the early success of the Edinburgh Cup which has greatly benefited from the excellent support of the Tote.”

If all goes to plan, and with the Scottish Sprint Cup supporting the feature race, Edinburgh Cup Day at Musselburgh will boast a total prize fund in excess of £200,000 in 2012.

Posted on 14/05/2011.

Sue Phelan in Line for Top Business Award.

 Waterford and Tramore Racecourse Manager, Sue Phelan has been nominated for a Network Waterford Women in Business Award for Excellence in Sport.

Sue, who is an integral part of the sporting community in Waterford, was chosen by an independent panel of judges who selected her because of her continued support of sport in Waterford and for her enthusiasm and commitment to promoting and enhancing Waterford and Tramore Racecourse.

Sue has been Manager of Waterford and Tramore Racecourse since 2000 and has seen the track grow into one of the most successful in the country, with 11 fixtures each year, including the 4-day August Racing Festival, which now sees top riders and jockeys converge on the seaside town, along with thousands of racegoers from all over the Waterford region and beyond.

 Speaking of her nomination, Network Waterford President Margaret Durand said:

“Sue is hugely popular in Waterford and is an inspirational woman, not alone in the sporting world, but also in business. We are delighted that she has been put forward for an award and we wish her the very best of luck on the day.”

The awards will take place on Thursday, May 26th at the Tower Hotel. Tickets for the lunchtime event are €35 and are available from http://waterfordawards.eventbrite.com.

Posted on 12/05/2011.

Edward Gillespie receives Sports Industry Award. 

Edward Gillespie, Managing Director of Cheltenham Racecourse, was last night honoured with the Jaguar Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sport Industry Awards 2011 Ceremony, the 10th anniversary of the prestigious event.

Gillespie, who has built The Festival at Cheltenham into arguably the biggest event in the British racing calendar during a tenure spanning over three decades, received his Award from record-breaking champion jump jockey A P (Tony) McCoy and ex-jockey and racing pundit Mick Fitzgerald in front of a packed room of 1,700 industry executives and sporting celebrities.

In accepting his Award, Edward commented:

“I am honoured to be receiving this special award, particularly in a room full of so many talented people from across the Sports Industry, but I really do feel that this is recognition of the talented and industrious people with whom I've worked over the last 30 years at Cheltenham.

 “The sport of horseracing is one that I care passionately about and much of what has been achieved during my time at Cheltenham has been due to the brilliance of generations of horses, jockeys and trainers, who provide the magical spectacle that appeals to so many people.

 “It has been a privilege to go to work every day and to have the strong support of The Jockey Club and the wider racing industry over more than three decades in the sport. I am as enthusiastic about what we do as I have ever been and am looking forward enormously to challenges that face us in the years to come.” 

Posted on 10/05/2011.

Strategic Report on Irish Attendances Launched. 

The Strategic Marketing Group, established by the Board of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) to report on ways to improve attendances at Irish race meetings, has published its findings.

It identifies three key goals:

1. Create a Customer-Focused Racing Product
2. Restore and Grow the Levels of Attendance by the Betting Customer at the Racecourse
3. Grow the fan base by increasing levels of interest in the Sport

 The Report observes that, while the recession is an obvious first cause of the decline in attendances since 2007, there are fundamental challenges which will remain even when the economy recovers:
the need for increased customer focus by racing and racecourses; the disruption of the betting market by new technology and the need to grow interest levels in racing among the general population.

The Group’s Chairman, Jim Nicholson, who is also Chairman of Down Royal Racecourse and a HRI Board Member, said:

“Interest in racing is very intense among existing racegoers and we believe that there is real potential to grow the overall fan base by communicating the stories behind the sport to a wider audience.  This is a world-class sport and it brings with it pride, a sense of achievement and the celebration of a great tradition.”

 The group carried out market research to find the level of interest in racing compared to other sports. They also identified what drives interest in racing and what the barriers to participation are.

The report makes clear the central role of betting in attracting and retaining fans and recommends the creation of a broad forum to include HRI, the racecourses, on-course and off-course bookmakers and suppliers of online betting and exchange products.  It calls for the elimination of all restrictive practices in on-course betting and the inclusion of online and exchange options at the tracks.

Other key recommendations are:

·        Creation of a two-tier fixture list based on Premier and Standard race days to provide a means to focus on days with broad popular appeal and also develop niche-market low cost racedays.

·        Establish a combined national racegoer database and ticketing system to assist racecourses to identify existing and potential customers and to develop print-at-home ticketing capability for all racecourses.

·        Agree a rating scale for racecourses to establish a basis for allocation of resources based on customer service quality and ability to attract racegoers.

·        Use racehorse ownership as a promotional tool to stimulate interest in racing through clubs, pubs and third-level colleges.

·        Facilitate and promote the use of social media in all areas of racing communications, particularly the racecourses, through training and best practice support.

 All major racing industry sectors were involved in stakeholder meetings during the preparation of the Report including the Racegoers Consultative Forum and a Racecourse Marketing Group established by the Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR). 

“Many viewpoints have been heard and the Report now sets out clearly what is needed from the customer’s standpoint” continued Jim Nicholson.  “We have an opportunity to put in place new practices and ways of thinking which will ensure that racing grows in popularity and will be in a position to maximise the benefits when the economy recovers”.

Receiving the Report on behalf of HRI, CEO Brian Kavanagh said:

"I welcome this report and thank the members of the group for the fresh thinking and expertise they have brought to the subject.  It will be of great value to HRI in developing the overall Strategic Plan for the industry.  I look forward to the discussions and comments it will generate in all areas of racing".

Posted on 10/05/2011.

 

Recognition for British Stallion Studs supporting British Racing.

 The British Trustees of the European Breeders’ Fund (BEBF) are keen to emphasise the vital contribution made to prize money by British stallion owners/managers. Consequently, at a recent meeting of the British EBF’s Trustees, it was agreed to alter race titles for some EBF races run in Great Britain during 2011. As a result, many
EBF races will carry the title ‘British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing’.

 In addition, BEBF stallion owners have been offered the opportunity to name an EBF race after their stallions during 2011. These new race titles will be seen on racecourses across the country in the coming months, with the first one highlighting Darley stallion SHIROCCO in York’s opening race on Friday.

The BEBF Trustees are extremely grateful to all British racecourses for their assistance and cooperation in applying these new race titles.

British stallion owners/managers are responsible for a significant proportion of the funds used to support EBF races in Great Britain. Without their support, the EBF would not have been able to provide funds totalling £24.9 million towards British racing since 1983.

IRISH EBF CONTRIBUTION TARGETS SPECIFIC RACES

In recognition of the large number of Irish-sired horses which race in Great Britain, the Governors of the Irish EBF have agreed again to provide funds towards a number of EBF races in Great Britain during 2011. The IEBF will provide funds totalling €80,000 towards 15 races throughout this year. 

Facts about the EBF in Great Britain:

1. The EBF was established in 1983 as a self-help programme for European racing.
2. EBF funds are raised from European stallion owners/managers and eligibility payments from breeders/owners of American sired horses.
3. The EBF is one of the largest sponsors of racing in Great Britain with some 500 Flat races and 90 Jump races due to be supported with EBF funds in 2011.
4. The EBF will provide over £1.1 million towards prize money in Great Britain during 2011.
5. Since 1983 the EBF has provided £24.9 million towards British Racing.
6. Since 1996, over 96.6% of all two-year-olds in training in Great Britain have been eligible to run in EBF races.

Posted on 29/04/2011.

Goffs the new title sponsor of the National Stakes at the Curragh. 

Consistently rated as the top two year old race in Europe, the €200,000 National Stakes will be run on 10 September, and is part of a ‘Super Saturday’ programme that also features The Irish Field St Leger. 

 First run in 1849, the National Stakes is Ireland’s premier race for two year olds, and  has been won by some true racing greats in the past including; Sir Ivor and Santa Clause.  More recent winners include Goffs yearling graduates New Approach and Kingsfort, as well as Teofilo, George Washington and Sinndar, while 2000 Guineas contender Pathfork beat subsequent Group 1 winner and Goffs graduate Casamento in the race last year. 

 Other previous winners purchased at Goffs include Danehill Dancer and Desert King, while another connection is His Story who won the race in 1959 trained by Sir Hugh Nugent, grandfather of Goffs’ auctioneer Nick Nugent.

The race, which is part of the Breeders Cup Challenge Series, has been associated with the memory of the legendary Vincent O’Brien since 2009, with the O’Brien Family presenting a perpetual trophy to the winning owner.

Goffs Chief Executive Henry Beeby added: 

“We are delighted to demonstrate our support of Irish racing at the highest level and continue our close association with The Curragh through the sponsorship of this world class Group 1 race on The Irish Field St Leger day.  The calibre of the Goffs National Stakes and its timing in mid September is a perfect fit for Goffs, offering a fantastic platform for our ongoing promotion of the Orby Sale”.

Paul Hensey, General Manager of the Curragh Racecourse commented,

“We are very grateful to Goffs for their continued support of the Curragh and look forward to working with them to continue to attract the very best 2 year olds in training to compete in the National Stakes. Goffs have been a very valued partner to the racecourse for many years having previously sponsored the Flying Five Stakes, the Goffs Millions and the Irish 1000 Guineas.”

Posted on 14/04/2011.

Tote to Sponsor New Connacht National at Roscommon.

The historic Connacht National is set to be reborn at Roscommon racecourse on 12 June 2011 after a sponsorship deal with Tote Ireland was announced. Under the new deal the race will be called the “www.thetote.com Connacht National” promoting Tote Ireland’s online Irish and UK Tote pool betting website. It will be an ideal trial race for the Tote sponsored Galway Plate.    

Mr. Robert McConn, Chairman of Roscommon Racecourse said,

“Roscommon Race Committee is delighted that Tote Ireland has agreed to sponsor the Connacht National. This is another top class race for Roscommon and a further example of the progress the racecourse is making. We look forward to a successful sponsorship with Tote Ireland with increased Tote turnover at Roscommon in 2011.”

Commenting on the announcement, Mr. Dryden Geary, Marketing & PR Manager of Tote Ireland, said:

“On behalf of Tote Ireland, I am delighted to announce our sponsorship of the Connacht National at Roscommon. All of the Tote’s profits are reinvested into Irish racing and it is thanks to the loyal support of our clients that the Tote can make a contribution to the industry in these challenging times. I would specifically like to thank racecourse manager Mr. Michael Finneran – the Connacht National at Roscommon was his idea.”

The www.thetote.com Connacht National at Roscommon on 12 June is a 3 mile and half a furlong handicap chase aimed at horses targeting the www.thetote.com Galway Plate with horses rated 140 being set to carry 11st 10lb and those with higher ratings carrying the corresponding extra weight. The race will have a total value of €25,000 and entries will close Tuesday 07 June. The Tote will pay the Galway plate entry fee for the winner of this race should they compete in the Galway festival feature 6 weeks later on 27 July.

Punchestown Festival Sales bucking the general economic trend!

Punchestown Racecourse, home of The Irish National Hunt Festival, remains very positive as it announced an increase in ticket sales for this year’s event, which will take place between 03 and 07 May 2011.

Total bookings for this year, including corporate hospitality, are up 12% on 2010 figures, which is a  very reassuring sign with almost three weeks remaining before the first white flag is raised on this years Festival.

 Punchestown, like all other businesses in Ireland today, has had to work exceptionally hard in the last three years as economic circumstances have led to a significant change in the profile of both those attending, and those sponsoring at the Kildare course.

 As a result of the current economic situation the Festival has had to enhance the quality of the products it is offering for all levels of race goers. While everyone still wants a good day out, events like the Punchestown Festival must remain cognisant of the fact that financial circumstances have changed for most people. Much more consideration is now given to the overall product on offer. Race goers can now choose from the full silver service package in the Festival Pavilion to the party packs which include admission, race card, bet & beverage vouchers; and various options in between.

 There is still strong demand for corporate hospitality, although the environment has changed somewhat in recent times, few places remain for Thursday and Friday of the 2011 festival, and Festival organisers see this as a real seal of approval from the corporate audiences who use Punchestown as a platform to entertain clients and meet business associates.

 Punchestown is very proud of the fact that all 37 races are fully sponsored by Irish based companies, and this also applies to the sponsorship of the Best Dressed Lady competition. This latter competition has proved very popular and now runs over four days from Tuesday to Friday.

Two years ago the starting times of the feature races where changed and this has been a huge success in terms of people now able to attend without taking a full day’s leave. Once again, racing will air on prime-time television in Ireland, and this is very positive in terms of both viewership figures and attracting sponsors.

 In 2008, the Punchestown festival increased to a five-day event adding Saturday to its calendar as a Family day. This Festival Family day has been a great success and the second biggest day in terms of attendance for the last two years. Last year Saturday accounted for 20% of the overall attendance at the Festival.

Research commissioned by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and Failte Ireland in 2008, determined that some €60 million was generated, for the local economy, by those travelling from the UK alone. The Festival creates over 2,000 full and part time jobs locally during the event and so is of huge economic value.

Posted on 11/04/2011.

Stobart Ireland to sponsor Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes.

 Stobart Ireland is the new title sponsor of the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh racecourse on Saturday 25 June. 

 Stobart Ireland’s two-year commitment includes sponsorship of the prestigious €200,000 Pretty Polly contest for fillies and mares, the feature race on Day Two of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival. 

In addition, Stobart Ireland will sponsor three other races on the day – one in the name of Aer Arann, one in the name of London Southend Airport, and one to promote the Cannonball Run - the charity event sponsored by Stobart Ireland which raises funds for the Barretstown Camp for sick children.    

The Pretty Polly Stakes – to be now called the Stobart Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes - is named in honour of one of the great racehorses of the 20th century, Pretty Polly.  The race, first run in 1947, is part of the prestigious Breeders Cup Challenge Series and is also linked to the Grade One Beverley D Stakes taking place at Arlington Park in Chicago.

 Stobart Ireland operates a significant transport logistics, warehousing and distribution business across Ireland from its facility in Dublin Port, servicing household national and international brands.  Stobart recently partnered with Aer Arann, Ireland’s regional airline.  The company’s interests also include London Southend Airport, which services commuter flights to and from Waterford and Galway airports.

Sean Brogan, Managing Director, Stobart Ireland said: 

“Stobart Ireland is delighted to support one of the premium events on the Irish sporting calendar.  The Pretty Polly Stakes has a proud heritage and we are delighted to be part of its ongoing success.  As Stobart expands in Ireland, it seems a natural progression for us to be associated with a major Irish event. This sponsorship provides a platform to promote our business interests, in particular Aer Arann and London Southend Airport.  It also compliments our existing sponsorships in Ireland, in particular the Cannonball Run which raises vital funds for the Barrettsown Gang Camp.”

Paul Hensey, General Manager, the Curragh Racecourse said: 

“This is a very positive development for Irish racing.  We are thrilled to partner with a company like Stobart Ireland and to host the Stobart Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes.  Stobart Ireland’s commitment will ensure that Irish racing can continue to attract some of the top fillies in Europe to compete for this prestigious Group 1 prize and in doing so, encourage more people to attend the races.”

Posted on 05/04/2011.

Newsells Park Stud to sponsor at Newmarket.

Officials at Newmarket are delighted to announce that Newsells Park Stud will be sponsoring the Aphrodite Stakes on Saturday, 16 July, on the July Course.

 The mile and a half Listed race for fillies and mares has been won by a clutch of high-class performers in recent seasons and is an attractive high-summer target for middle-distance types.

Dar Re Mi is the most high-profile winner of the race in recent seasons – she triumphed in 2008 before going on to score in Group One company in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

The race’s roll of honour has subsequently been graced by Barshiba (2009) and Eastern Aria, both of whom recorded victories at Group Two level.

The Newsells Park Stud Stakes is the feature race on the card on 16th July and carries a prize fund of £35,000.

Newmarket Racecourses’ managing director Stephen Wallis said:

“We are very pleased that Newsells Park Stud has chosen to sponsor this year’s renewal of the Aphrodite Stakes.

“The race carries significant importance for owners and breeders with the ‘black type’ that it offers and it is appropriate that an increasingly influential stud has chosen to link with it.

“We hope that the association will be a long-term one and look forward to welcoming Newsells Park Stud to the July Course for one of our ever-popular ‘Summer Saturdays’.”

Newsells Park Stud’s general manager Julian Dollar said: 

“We place great value on our own horses achieving stakes success, so are delighted to be sponsoring and supporting this important race for fillies and mares."

Posted on 30/03/2011.

William Hill Online crowned 'Online Betting Company of the Year'.

William Hill Online has scooped the ‘2011 Online Company of the Year Award’ at the prestigious Betview Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London's Park Lane on Tuesday night (29 April).  

 The awards, which have come to be known as the ‘Oscars’ for the betting industry, honour and recognise industry professionals on their exemplary achievement, ingenuity, creativity and overall hard work within the UK and ROI betting and gaming industry.

A record number of entries were submitted for the 2011 awards ceremony by leading professionals in the industry and the Betview Award 2011 finalists and winners were selected through a stringent judging process.

William Hill Online was selected as the winner in the category of ‘Online Company of the Year’. The judging panel awarded this prestigious award to the online company which has created the most innovative and easy-to-use online betting experience.

Posted on 30/03/2011.

Farnsworth Issues Stark Prize Money Warning.

 Musselburgh Racecourse is preparing to welcome a near capacity crowd as it kicks off its Flat season on Friday (01 April). The gate for the meeting will be buoyed with a free entry offer which saw 6000 tickets being snapped up under the Racing for Change initiative, which is promoting free racing in April at 25 UK racecourses.

 While general manager Bill Farnsworth is delighted at the prospect of a busy Musselburgh he is under no illusion that it masks a worrying decline in the revenues being received from the betting industry.

A dramatic slashing of income from the major betting firms, provided through the Levy Board, – down by £12,000 per flat fixture on 2010 – has left Musselburgh, like every other course, picking up the pieces.

The pain is dulled slightly with a £72,000 contribution from Betfair, as part of their Scottish Flat Racing Series, while a BHA development race grant adds another £10,500 to the pot.

Musselburgh has managed to boost its own contribution to each race day prize fund to £27,000, an average of £7,000 per meeting extra, and average prize money for Musselburgh’s 15 flat racing fixtures is being maintained at £50,000 per fixture. As a consequence all of Musselburgh’s flat races will meet or exceed the recently introduced Horsemen’s Group prize money tariffs from April 01.

Viewing the overall situation,  Bill Farnsworth said:

“Income from the betting industry has declined, and as a result, prize money in Britain is in danger of sliding below an acceptable level.  We realise that this situation is not sustainable and so have committed to increasing our own contributions to prize money, which results in Musselburgh matching or exceeding the Horsemen’s Group tariffs in all of our flat races for 2011.

 “With prudent management and supportive sponsors, we have increased our own contribution to each race day in 2011 to more than £27,000, an increase of £7,000 on last year, and we know owners and trainers value the effort we make at Musselburgh to make it an attractive proposition when choosing where to race.”

However, Farnsworth issued this stark warning:

“We cannot continue to contribute this level of money to prize money beyond the short-term, because we are now only working to a break-even position. In addition to shoring up prize money funding we are also making up for a shortfall in Levy Board funding elsewhere within the sport, including the sport’s regulation and integrity.

“We are therefore, currently not generating profits to invest in the infrastructure of the racecourse. The funding model for British racing must change so that the major betting firms pay a fair and reasonable price for British horseracing.

 “It doesn’t take a maths genius to see we are operating in very difficult circumstances. Any small business faced with a £200,000 hole in their budget (flat fixtures only) has difficult decisions to make but on the plus side we will continue to introduce new initiatives, such as improvements to the race day experience and Friday’s free race day, to make racing attractive and exciting to the wider public. 

“We are trying to do our bit for the sport but the betting industry needs to play its part, otherwise British racing will face a rapid decline.”

Posted on 25/03/2011.

Leopardstown’s Tom Burke to Retire.

 Tom Burke joined the Racing Board in 1969 and became part-time Tipperary manager in 1983.  He joined Leopardstown in 1986 and served as Racing Manager until 2006 when he became the General Manager.  During that period he also served as part-time Manager at Navan Racecourse for a number of years.

Discussing his impending retirement,  Tom said:

“I have really enjoyed what will shortly be 42 years working in the horse racing industry.  In that time I have experienced many of racing’s most memorable moments and more importantly struck up friendships that I will always cherish. I feel the time has now come to move on and in particular to spend more time with my family. I would like to acknowledge the support of all those in the industry with whom I came in contact over the years and in particular my work colleagues whose loyalty and advice I will forever appreciate.”   

Brian Kavanagh, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland which owns Leopardstown within its Racecourse Division, said:

“Tom has been one of Irish racing’s most dedicated and valued figures.  He has managed through good and bad times with an air of quiet determination and integrity which has earned him the respect and confidence of all he came in contact with.  He will be greatly missed and a very hard act to follow but we look forward to his presence as a racegoer in future where he can enjoy the spectacle without the attendant responsibility. I wish Tom a long, healthy and happy retirement in the company of his wife Cora and their family”.

Posted on 20/03/2011.

William Hill buck Cheltenham trend.

With bookmaking firms reporting significant losses following the conclusion of the Cheltenham Festival, William Hill have bucked the trend of previous years in finishing with their heads just above water, making an overall profit for the four days.

Day one brought a mixture of results for the firm, with things improving on Wednesday with the triumphs of Bostons Angel and Sizing Europe.

Things took a turn for the worst throughout the final two days as previous Festival winners, and of course Pricewise, were firing on all cylinders.

However, now the dust is finally settling, the picture looks slightly more rosy, and Kate Miller, spokeswoman for William Hill, said

“It was a rollercoaster week for us – despite heavy losses inflicted with the victories of well-supported favourites including Long Run, Junior and Bobs Worth, defeats for Cue Card and Time For Rupert, coupled with a smattering of big-priced winners, certainly helped to buffer the impact. However, it’s far from plain sailing yet as the Grand National looms large.”

Posted on 19/03/2011.

Minister Congratulates Irish Racing Industry.

The new Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and  Marine  Food, Simon Coveney TD, has congratulated Irish racehorse breeders, trainers and jockeys on their record-breaking performance at this week's Cheltenham festival, at which there were 15 Irish bred, 13 Irish trained and 22 Irish ridden winners.

Elaborating on his thoughts, Mr Coveney said:  

"this week demonstrated the strength of the Irish bloodstock industry and was a tremendous tribute to all those involved.  I want to extend my congratulations to the individual breeders, trainers and jockeys and also to the various organisations who are so essential to this industry's success, including Horse Racing Ireland, the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, the Irish Racehorse Owners Association and the Irish Jockeys Association. In particular, I want to congratulate Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and Michael O’Leary on their respective achievements as leading trainer, leading jockey and winning-most owner at the 2011 Cheltenham festival.”

The Minister went on to say:

“this week's success at Cheltenham proved that Ireland is a true leader in the equine world, and also shows the value of the pursuit of excellence.  As a country, we should take pride in our success and encouragement from our achievements.  At a time of economic adversity, the success of Irish breeders, trainers and jockeys shows what we are capable of in Ireland, which has such a rich equine history and heritage.  The Irish bloodstock industry is of enormous economic benefit to this country, providing 16,000 jobs and exports worth some €150 million to 36 countries in 2010. It was particularly noteworthy that the Irish-trained horses came from so many different counties, including Carlow, Kildare, Meath, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford, thus demonstrating the value of the industry throughout the country."

Posted on 12/03/2011.

Betfair offer financial support to NASS project.

BETFAIR are making £25,000 available to sponsor the National Association of Stable Staff (NASS) campaign to establish a minimum standard for stable staff facilities at Britain’s racecourses.

 The Betfair/NASS initiative will only be available for independent racecourses - i.e. not those within the Northern Racing, Arena Leisure and Jockey Club Racecourses groups – and letters will be going out to the eligible tracks giving them details of how to apply for financial assistance to improve their stable staff facilities on a matched-funded basis for redevelopment, renovation, refurbishing and upgrading the Stable Staff facilities.

Jim Cornelius, NASS Chief Executive, explained:

“Many of our members go to racecourses as part of their work and want us to achieve a good standard of facilities at all racecourses.

“I welcome the Betfair proposal to sponsor our project to establish minimum standards, which will enable us to assist some racecourses to take the step up.

“Betfair are the first company to sponsor NASS, and they are to be thanked and congratulated on such a forward-looking initiative to assist racing via a representative staff organisation.

“It is believed that racecourses owned by the three racecourse groups should have access to funds which would enable them to achieve the NASS minimum standards.

“However, some independent racecourses may not have the financial means, or immediate plans, to bring stable staff facilities up to such a standard.”

Martin Cruddace, Betfair’s Chief Legal & Regulatory Affairs Officer, added:

“Betfair recognises the important work being done for stable staff by NASS.

“In making our donations to various sections of racing, Betfair felt that this should not exclude NASS and this sponsorship is an acknowledgment of the vital role that stable staff play within racing on a daily basis.”

Posted on 07/03/2011.

Punchestown secure sponsorship from BetChronicle.

Punchestown racecourse today announced that BetChronicle is to sponsor the Champion Bumper at the 2011 Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival 03 to 07 May. With a pot of €75,000 on offer the betChronicle Champion Bumper remains the most valuable bumper on the British and Irish racing calendars, and the only Irish bumper to carry Grade 1 status.

 The BetChronicle Champion Bumper, formerly sponsored by Paddy Power Bookmakers, will take place the second day of the five day Punchestown Festival, Wednesday 04 May. The race boasts an illustrious roll of honour with previous winners including Hidden Universe, Dunguib* Cousin Vinny and Like A Butterfly.

Bumper king Noel Meade is the winning most trainer with an impressive tally of 4 wins since 1992 and they are Tiananmen Square (1992), Geill Sli (2004) Leading Run (2006) and most recently Mick The Man (2007).  He welcomed the news by saying

We have been very lucky in this race and given that it is the most valuable bumper on the calendar we hope to be lucky in it again! It’s great to hear that betChronicle have come on board and we look forward to the running of the betChronicle Champion Bumper at Punchestown in eight weeks time”.

Speaking about the announcement Chronicle’s Justin Carthy said

Having concentrated our recent sponsorship activities in the UK we are delighted to bring it home and where better than the home of Irish jump racing.  The betChronicle Champion Bumper sponsorship was a great opportunity for us to further enhance or support of Irish racing. We have always worked closely with the team at Punchestown and currently have four pitches during the Irish National Hunt Festival which is a key meeting on our calendar. We look forward to developing the Irish angle of our sponsorship with Punchestown”.

Posted on 03/03/2011.

New sponsor for Scottish Champion Hurdle.

Isle of Skye 8 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky is the new sponsor of the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr Racecourse - the richest hurdle race in Scotland.

The £50,000 Grade 2 race is run on April 16, Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday, and has been sponsored since 1997 by Samsung Electronics.

The sponsorship is the latest stage in the brand development for Isle of Skye by its owners, Ian Macleod Distillers , which aims to raise the profile of the award winning Blended Scotch throughout Scotland's Racecourses and beyond.

In addition to being the official whisky sponsor of the 2011 Scottish Racing 'Trainers Championship' Isle Of Skye 8 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky is the official whisky partner at all five Scottish racecourses and is also the proud sponsor of Scotland's leading National Hunt trainer Lucinda Russell and her team at Arlary House Stables.

Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, brand owners of Isle of Skye, commented :

“We are delighted to be supporting the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr Racecourse. This is one of the most prestigious events in the racing calendar, built on values of tradition and excellence that sits very well with Isle of Skye 8 Years Old  Blended Scotch Whisky.”

Alan Macdonald, Chairman of Ayr Racecourse, said :

“The Scottish Champion Hurdle is one of the highlights of the National hunt season, not only in Scotland but in the UK. It has a great history and I am delighted to welcome Isle of Skye Scotch Blended Whisky as sponsors of the race.

“Isle of Skye is not only a leading brand but also has a great association with racing and I feel this is a great fit. Everyone at Ayr Racecourse looks forward to working with the team at Isle of Skye to make this year's race one of the best ever.”

Posted on 01/03/2011.

Greater value from Coral for On-Line and Telebet Customers.

Coral this week launched a new range of horse racing markets with the aim of delivering greater choice and value to its online and telebet customers.

This new range of markets includes a ‘Win Only’ market, featuring decimal prices, that offers consistently better odds compared to all other fixed odds bookmakers. This market will be available for all races from midday each day up until the start of each race, and is signified by a green tick on the coral.co.uk racecard, an image that will also be used in marketing the new product. Coral expect the majority of horses in every race to be available at bigger prices ‘Win Only’ than the standard ‘Win/Each Way’ prices offered by bookmakers.

The package of horse racing markets, which is available via coral.co.uk and Coral telebet, also includes ‘Place Only’ betting, featuring decimal prices, and customers will be able to place multiple bets on both the ‘Win Only’ and ‘Place Only’ markets.

The new package of markets are completed by a ‘Betting Without The Favourite’ market, and a dedicated ‘Best Price Guarantee (BPG)’ market, with the concession removed from the traditional ‘Win/Each Way’ market, allowing Coral to bet more competitively and aggressively on this core market.   

Coral has also taken a more logical approach towards non-runners on the new ‘Win Only’ and ‘Place Only’ markets, applying a new ‘non-runner adjustment’ rather than the old, imperfect Tattersalls Rule 4 system (that will still apply to the main ‘Win/EachWay’ and BPG markets). The Coral ‘Non Runner Adjustment’ is based on the ‘Win Only’ odds available on all the runners in the race, at the time the bet was struck, and a more detailed explanation of the calculations is available on the coral.co.uk homepage.

These new horse racing markets have traditional bookmaking and compiling at their core as they are based on Coral prices and trader opinions, but are supported by more modern technologies through an API from Global Betting Exchange to ensure that prices do not stray excessively out of line with the betting marketplace. This technology also enables Coral to deliver customers faster and more accurate pre-race shows without impacting on the theoretical margin.

“At the heart of this new racing offering is our new ‘Win Only’ market which will offer bigger prices on the majority of runners in every race every day compared to all other fixed odds bookmakers. We have branded this market with a Green Tick and on the website when the customer sees a green tick next to a horse’s name, it is a guarantee of a bigger ‘Win Only’ price,” said Simon Clare, Coral PR & Trading director.

“Betting has modernised rapidly in recent years with the growth of the internet, the arrival of exchanges, betting on mobile phones, etc and perhaps it is time for horse race betting to modernise too. The Rule 4 mechanism is fundamentally flawed and our ‘NRA’ is a more logical calculation. We can offer customers much better prices on their win bets by offering ‘Win Only’ odds rather than being constrained by having to lay each way bets at the prices. And why should customers have to place a fixed odds win bet when all they want is to back a horse to place? Our place only market gives customers that option,” said Clare.

“This is about giving horse racing customers a greater choice of markets to bet on and better value on their chosen bets, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. By listening to customer feedback and monitoring their behaviour on the website, we will evolve and improve this new racing betting service as we go”, added Clare.

Posted on 24/02/2011.

Stuart Williams elected NTF President. 

The National Trainers Federation (NTF) held its 2011 Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 23 February at the Kingsway Hall Hotel in London’s Covent Garden.

 The NTF President’s one-year term concludes at the AGM and Stuart Williams was elected to succeed Henry Daly in the post. Philip Hobbs was confirmed as the third member of the NTF’s leadership triumvirate, maintaining the dual representation of Flat and Jump trainers at the head of the Federation.

Alan Morcombe, Chief Executive of the Horsemen’s Group, was the NTF’s guest speaker at the event. He presented an overview of the Horsemen’s Group’s aims and activities with more detailed analysis of the Horsemen’s Tariff policy, for which the members present gave unanimous support. Alan also touched on the evolving role of the Horsemen’s Group and gave an insight into how it was responding to the expectation that it would acquire wider responsibilities in the future.

 

Posted on 16/02/2011.

Sire Big Bad Bob to be promoted.

 Three races including the Group 3 Gladness Stakes will promote leading sire Big Bad Bob following an agreement launched by the Curragh Racecourse and owner Cristina Patino.

The Group 3 winning son of Bob Back, who is a half brother to the dam of multiple Group 1 and Irish Oaks heroine Snow Fairy, took up residence at the Irish National Stud this year and has created a major impression in his short stallion career. His remarkable success includes siring 28% Stakes calibre horses to runners. 91% won/placed in 1st crop. Among his representatives so far are Ger Lyons’ UAE 1000 Guineas third and Brownstown Stakes Group 3 winner Berg Bahn, the Rochestown Stakes runner-up Moment Of Weakness, Bankster’s Bonus and four time winners Bob Le Beau and Spanish Duke. Buy Back Bob who won twice was sold for £140,000, while Bible Belt finished third in last year’s Group 3 CL Weld Park Stakes, beaten two heads.

In addition to the Gladness Stakes on 03 April, other races in the sponsorship agreement include maiden races at the County Kildare venue on 20 March and during the Abu Dhabi Irish Guineas Festival in May.

Paul Hensey, Curragh Racecourse General Manager commented,

“We are very grateful to Mrs Patino for agreeing to support the Curragh this year and  I sincerely hope that we will see plenty of progeny by Big Bad Bob competing successfully in some of our major races this year” 

Posted on 11/02/2011.

Betfair donate £150,000 to Yorkshire Racing.

As part of their commitment to improve the standard of all racing, Betfair have made a £150,000 donation to Yorkshire racing. As a result, just over £130,000 will be added to prize money for lower tier races across each of Yorkshire's nine courses during 2011, with £14,500 going to each course. The bulk of this money will go to selected class 5 and 6 events to enhance their values.

Simon Channon, Chairman of Go Racing in Yorkshire, said:

“Yorkshire Racing would like to thank Betfair for their valued support.

 “Connections of horses towards the base of the equine pyramid are sure to applaud Betfair's initiative and we can look forward to great competition for these enhanced prizes.”

 Martin Cruddace, Betfair’s Chief Legal & Regulatory Affairs Officer, added:

“We are delighted to be able to enhance the level of prize money on offer in Yorkshire by such a significant sum.

“We have pledged to boost grass roots racing by £3m in the coming three years, and this is yet another example of this commitment.”

Posted on 08/02/2011.

Betfair Chase sponsorship extended until 2013.

 Betfair has signed a new three-year deal with Haydock Park to sponsor the racecourse’s most valuable jumps race for a further three years.

 The Betfair Chase – run each year in November – is always targeted by the very best steeplechasers, with the roll of honour including Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Kauto Star and Imperial Commander.

The new deal reaffirms Haydock Park’s strong commitment to jump racing as part of The Jockey Club and to Betfair’s support for racing overall and the north west racecourse in particular.

The three-mile Betfair Chase will continue to be worth a minimum of £200,000 in prize-money from 2011 to 2013.

At the meeting later this year – which is on Saturday 19 November - Betfair will sponsor all the races.  The betting exchange will also sponsor two races on the new fixture being held the day before.

In its short history, the Betfair Chase has established itself as one of the highlights of the jumping calendar.  Attracting the leading staying chasers, it represents the first real test of the season for any horse with aspirations of joining the elite of jump racing.

The quality of the horses taking part in the Betfair Chase every year is second to none.  In each of the first six runnings, either the holder of the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the horse going on to win the Gold Cup later that season has taken part – namely Kicking King, Kauto Star and Imperial Commander.

The supporting card on Betfair Chase day is also growing in quality.  The races include the Fixed Brush Hurdle, won in 2010 by Grands Crus, the current second favourite for this year’s World Hurdle, and 12 months previously by Diamond Harry – this season’s Hennessy Gold Cup winner at Newbury.

 Dickon White, Haydock Park’s managing director, said:

“This new deal with Betfair, who have sponsored the race since its inception in 2005, confirms the racecourse’s major support for jump racing.  The Betfair Chase has been the highlight of our jump racing season since it began and it will continue to be the showpiece occasion with very valuable prize-money on offer to owners and trainers.

“We look forward once again to welcoming the major players in jump racing for a meeting that is going from strength to strength assisted by our excellent relationship with Betfair.”

Tony Calvin, head of media at Betfair, said:

“We are delighted to support the Betfair Chase again for the next three years.

“The prize money for the race is staying at £200,000 -  which is very positive in the current climate.

 “In addition, the supporting card that we also sponsor remains very strong, too, with the valuable Brush Hurdle also going from strength to strength as a key race of the season in the staying division, with the last two winners being Diamond Harry and Grands Crus – and they could possibly be coming away from Cheltenham in March as winners of the Gold Cup and World Hurdle respectively.”

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Posted on 26/01/2011.

Betfair extends Lambourn sponsorship deal.

 The Lambourn Open Day has renewed its partnership with Betfair, who will continue to support the event for the next three years.

 A crowd of up to 10,000 flock to the Betfair Lambourn Open Day each year, with this year’s event taking place on Friday 22 April in 2011.  Trainers across the Lambourn Valley open their yards to the public, who are provided with an opportunity to see racing industry first hand and interact with the horses and trainers.  A host of entertainment is on offer throughout the day and in the past few years, showjumping, dog shows and camel racing have all featured at the event.

 Mark Smyly, chairman of the Betfair Lambourn Open Day committee, commented:

“I am delighted to confirm Betfair’s continued support of the Lambourn Open Day, without which this special event would not exist.  We are very much looking forward to working for another three years with Betfair, a company who are positioned at the forefront of the racing industry.”

 Martin Cruddace, Betfair’s Chief Legal & Regulatory Affairs Officer and Company Secretary, added:

“We are proud to sponsor this event which plays such an important role within the racing industry and hope that the Betfair Lambourn Open Day will continue to build on the success of previous years.”

Posted on 24/01/2011.

Tote to sponser Midlands Grand National Card.

The Tote have confirmed they will sponser the traditional post Cheltenham Midlands Grand National Meeting to be held at Uttoxeter on Saturday 19 March.

In addition to the 4 and a quarter mile Midlands Grand National highlight, won last year by subsequent Welsh National victor Synchronised, the Tote will also be responsible for sponsering the other 6 races on the Uttoxeter card on 19 March.

Posted on 19/01/2011.

British racecourses show attendance increase in 2010.

Figures released on 19 January 2011 by the Racecourse Association revealed 2010 turned out to be another bumper year for racecourse attendance in Britain. The number of people going racing across the country rose again for the second consecutive year, with average daily attendances up 3.4%.  Had it not been for the inclement weather at the end of the year, attendances would have hit their highest since 2004. 

Whilst other sports saw a fall in gate receipts in 2010, racing maintained its appeal as an attractive day out. The figures show a total rise in racecourse attendance of 0.9%, despite a drop in the number of fixtures being staged.  This good news will be welcomed across the industry in the light of dwindling Levy income and a drop in the amount of corporate sponsorship and hospitality that racecourses are seeing.
Positive figures appear across the board, for both the larger and smaller courses, with Bath seeing almost 17% more people through their gates, whilst York saw a rise of 11%.  Britain’s newest racecourse, Ffos Las, showed an increase of just under 20%, proving that the appetite for quality racing in Britain is getting stronger and stronger.

Along with a wealth of competitive racing, many courses have been taking the opportunity in 2010 to broaden the entertainment on offer, hosting concerts and themed days to draw in the crowds.  In August, a concert by the Irish boy band Westlife sold out Newbury Racecourse and thereby capped an excellent day’s racing.

In April, the industry - under its Racing for Change banner - initiated the first ever ‘week of free racing’ with nine courses, including Ascot and Goodwood, allowing the public in at no cost. This promotion proved highly successful, attracting an extra 40,000 customers through the gates (compared to the previous year’s attendances). Research showed that over 60% of these racegoers were new to the sport.

Many of the 60 British courses have also been actively marketing their fixtures to a broader audience and working hard to make sure that visitors have a memorable leisure experience. The Racing for Change project has been placing particular emphasis on demystifying the sport for novice racegoers and promoting the human and equine stars more effectively, both at the tracks and through the media.

Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association commented,

“I am delighted to see these figures, it is a vindication of the hard work being done behind the scenes on Britain’s racecourses to attract customers, especially those new to the sport.  It is a shame that the bad weather in December stopped us from beating the previous high of 2004, but it lays down the marker for the Racecourses in 2011 to maintain these high standards’.”

Posted on 18/01/2011.

Ireland Racing Industry Statistics for 2010 revealed.

Irish racecourse attendances and bloodstock sales in 2010 produced the first hopeful signs for the industry since the downturn began.  The average attendance at race meetings in 2010 of 3,586 was the same as 2009 and bloodstock sales at €68m were marginally ahead on 2009.  These were welcome indicators of levelling-off in an industry which is still feeling the full force of recession. 

However, many other key performance figures continued to fall:

On-Course Betting down 10% to €164 million

·          Total Prize-Money down 13% to €46 million

·          Race Sponsorship down 17% to €5 million (excluding sales races)

·          Average Horses in Training down 11% to 5,769

·          Total Number of Owners down 9% to 4,667

·          Total Number of New Owners down 13% to 776

In light of the new figures, Horse Racing Ireland CEO, Brian Kavanagh said:

“2008 was the first year of contraction in the industry in fifteen years and the decline in attendances and bloodstock sales, key markers of the health of the business, accelerated in 2009.  I welcome any sign of those trends tailing off.  However, this is by no means a recovery, but a positive indication that racing can work its way through the challenges”.

It is sobering to note, the level of participation in racing continues to weaken, with new owners down by almost half since 2007, from 1,449 to 776, and total horses in training down from 12,188 to 11,136. This has direct effects on employment in the racing industry, which has already lost thousands of jobs. These trends pose a continuing threat to the skills base which underpins Irish racing’s success.

 Betting on-course declined by a further 10% in 2010, giving an overall drop from €282m in 2007 to €164m in 2010. The on-course betting market is being hit by the fall in disposable income and the trend towards online and off-shore betting.

Discussing the above trends, Brian Kavanagh continued:

“Reduced prize-money due to reduced funding has a negative knock-on effect throughout the industry.  2010 brought a realisation by all parties that online and telephone betting must be levied on an equal basis with the high street shops to ensure a meaningful return to racing.  The commitment to introduce that levy has been made by Government and HRI urges progress towards its implementation, to give racing the means to drive real recovery and secure jobs throughout the rural economy”.

Posted on 17/01/2011.

1.4 million peak for Channel 4’s King George coverage.

Channel 4 Racing’s coverage of the Super Saturday (January 15) meeting from Kempton Park Racecourse secured record viewing figures. 

 

 

Andrew Thompson, Channel 4’s Racing Consultant, said:

“Once again, a great racing story has delivered a very big audience on Channel 4.  I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard for this thrilling meeting to happen.”

Andrew Franklin, Executive Producer – Highflyer TV, commented:

“This is emphatic proof, if it were needed,  that jump racing’s big names command enormous pulling power.  The more often they race the better!”

Posted on 17/01/2011.

Scottish flat programme benefits from £200,000 Betfair sponsership.

BETFAIR has teamed up with three Scottish racecourses to fund and promote Class 5 and 6 Flat racing, providing £200,000 to form a new series of Flat races aimed at grass roots racing.

 Musselburgh, Ayr and Hamilton Park will promote the Betfair Bonus Scottish Flat Racing Series, culminating in a Champions Day at Musselburgh with more than £100,000 prize money.

The initiative is aimed at increasing prize money for Flat horses rated up to 75 and to provide a lucrative finale for trainers and owners at the end of the flat season. Prize money for the qualifying races will be at least 60% higher than average flat meeting races and the organisers are hoping to pull in a 5,000-plus crowd on Champions Day.

Each racecourse will stage six sprint qualifiers over 5-6 furlongs, six mile qualifiers over 7-9 furlongs and six stayers’ heats over 11 furlongs and longer. Every qualifier will have a Betfair Series Bonus attached worth an extra £1,500 (Class 6) and £2,900 (Class 5), over and above the prize money offered by the racecourses, taking prize money for each race to the maximum of £4,000 and £6,500 respectively.

All horses which run in a Betfair Bonus qualifying race will also qualify for the relevant final on Champions Day.

The season kicks off at Musselburgh on Saturday April 23 and runs through the summer flat season, with Champions Day on 03 September featuring three category finals worth £25,000 each and three consolation races worth £8,000 each. Hamilton Park gets under starters orders on Friday 06 May, while Ayr kicks off on Monday 11 July, hosting the bulk of its qualifiers in July and August.

Discussing the new package,  Martin Cruddace, Betfair’s Chief Legal & Regulatory Affairs Officer, commented:

“We are delighted to support such an innovative programme of flat racing and to be able to enhance the level of prize money on offer in Scotland by £200,000. It’s a great boost for grass roots racing and all three racecourses should be congratulated for working together for the betterment of Scottish Racing.”

 Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said:

“At a time when the racing industry is facing difficult challenges, we have to find new ways of promoting our sport and making it more attractive for race goers, trainers and owners and we are grateful to Betfair for their generous support.

“The Betfair Bonus Scottish Flat Racing Series will provide a platform for the unsung heroes of the racing circuit and supports the day-to-day racing which underpins the whole sport. By offering increased prize money and also the fanfare of a Champions Day we hope to reward those people who invest in Flat racing for the sheer enjoyment rather than the huge spoils which can be collected in the upper echelons.

“It’s a great example of Scotland’s Flat race courses working together to benefit each other and we hope owners, trainers and the paying public will back us with bigger crowds throughout the season and by making Champions Day a day to remember.”

Posted on 14/01/2011.

Totesport involved in Guernsey controversy.

Although still technically owned by the government, Totesport have decided to move some of their Pool bets through their operation based in Guernsey, with the net result they will avoid paying income tax and betting levy on these pool transfers, as Guernsey is viewed as an 'offshore tax haven', which creates a situation where the government are actually avoiding making due payments into their own exchequer, and Totesport are reducing the amount they will have to pay into the Levy scheme.

While this may be an oversight by the Treasury and the Department for Culture Media and Sport, if this turns out to be an example of things to come, then British racing could be in for a very lean time.

Posted on 07/01/2011.

Connolly’s Red Mills To Sponsor Thyestes Chase.

 Ireland’s Number1 Horse Feed Manufacturer, Connolly’s RED MILLS, has announced that it is to sponsor the Thyestes Chase, one of Ireland’s premier National Hunt races. The Connolly’s RED MILLS Thyestes Chase will take place at Gowran Park on Thursday 20 January, where Ireland’s top racehorses and possible British raiders will compete for a €90,000 prize fund. One of the  traditional highlights of the Irish National Hunt season, the Connolly’s RED MILLS Thyestes Chase, is recognised as the trial for the Aintree and Fairyhouse based Irish Grand Nationals, with previous winners including the legendary Arkle (1964), Hedgehunter (2004), and Numbersixvalverde (2005).

Last year the coveted prize went to Whinstone Boy, trained by Jimmy Mangan, who will return this year to attempt to retain the title.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Gareth Connolly from Connolly’s RED MILLS said:

“We are delighted to announce our sponsorship of this prestigious race. The Thyestes Chase is an extremely important event in the racing calendar and we are very happy to be involved in racing at this level, as well as continuing our work at grassroots level to support the industry. We are looking forward to a great day of racing at Gowran Park on 20 January.

 Margaret Fogarty, General Manager of Gowran Park said:

“We are naturally very pleased that Connolly’s RED MILLS will sponsor the 2011 running of the Thyestes Chase on January 20th here at Gowran Park. The company’s increased support for the racing industry is particularly welcome at this difficult time, and this year’s prize fund, generously supplemented by Connolly’s RED MILLS, is sure to be welcomed by racehorse owners, trainers and breeders.

“Currently with 55 entries from a broad handicap range, the 2011 RED MILLS Thyestes Chase will be the feature race of a highly competitive card of true winter National Hunt racing and yet again may produce an Irish or UK Grand National winner later this year, thereby repeating the feats of dual winners Arkle, Brown Lad, Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde.”

Posted on 05/01/2011.

IBA comment as Celtic Bookmakers forced into receivership.

Following the news Celtic Bookmakers have been recently forced into receivership,  Sharon Byrne, Chairperson of the Irish Bookmakers Association, has  issued the following statement:

“It is very regrettable Celtic Bookmakers,  a well established bookmaker, highly respected member of our association and substantial employer in Ireland, has been forced into receivership.    Both Ivan and Deirdre Yates are extremely hard working, committed and experienced in this Industry.  However the collapse in betting shop turnover could not sustain the high rents and betting duty charged on their betting shops.  Restrictive legislation which prevents betting shops from offering products to compete with online and mobile operators were also a major factor which made it impossible for Celtic to maintain custom and fight off the spiralling decline in turnover.

“ Whilst the Government has acknowledged that an increase in Turnover tax is not feasible, we hope such a stark development to  Celtic bookmakers will further highlight the need for an  appropriate tax rate which is applied to profits and not turnover. Betting shops pay all taxes that every other business pay, plus an additional duty which is applied to Turnover and not profit.  It takes no account of whether a bookmaker is winning or losing.  The IBA have been looking for a licence tax along with a Gross Profits tax as a sustainable and fair method of taxation which can be applied to every gambling platform, all of which apart from betting shops have escaped the betting duty net to date.

“ We hope a buyer can be found for the majority of Celtics' shops so that job losses are kept to an absolute minimum. We also hope that the hard work, personal commitment and absolute dedication both Ivan and Deirdre have given to their business for over 23 years will help them through such a devastating process. Perhaps as Ivan says, ‘the fate of Celtic bookmakers will make Landlords see how unrealistic rents will actually force good tenants out of business, and that seeking new tenants may not be as easy as they think!”

Posted on 21/12/2010.

Nnew sponsor announced for Tramore’s Richest Race.

 Holden Plant Rentals have been announced as the new sponsor of Tramore’s richest race, the Listed Steeplechase on Saturday 01 Jan 2011. The Tramore Listed Steeplechase will now be called the Holden Plant Rentals Steeplechase, and will offer prize money totalling €32,000.

 Holden Plant Rentals Ltd, based in Mullinavat, are the largest specialist equipment rental company in Ireland, and they specialise in supplying local authorities with all their plant requirements. Founded in 1955 by Patrick Holden at Mullinavat, the original business mostly consisted of the sale and repair of cars and agricultural machinery, but through steady expansion under the direction of Managing Director Paul Holden and his staff, it is now the largest specialist equipment rental company in Ireland.

 Sue Phelan, General Manager of Tramore Racecourse said

"Tramore Racecourse is delighted Holden Plant Rentals has agreed to sponsor our most prestigious race of 2011. Traditionally New Years Day at Tramore is a great day for us and some very good horses have won this race including One Cool Cookie and last year’s winner The Fonze.
“Paul Holden has been a great supporter of Irish Racing through horse ownership and we are delighted to be associated with a great success story like Holden Plant Rentals."

Posted on 17/12/2010.

HRI announces revised 2011 budget for Irish Racing.

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) today announced a series of budgetary measures for 2011, and  in response to the challenging economic environment, the €1.6 million reduction in funding announced in the recent budget, and a drop in HRI's overall income, the new cost-saving measures include a reduction in prize money and continued restrictions on racecourse capital development projects.

The key features of HRI’s budget for 2011 are as follows:

1.  Prize Money
Total prize money will reduce by 5% from a forecast €46.6m this year to €44.1m next year, with a 5% cut in base values to be applied across all race categories except for the lowest value races, which will remain at their current levels of €7,000 and €7,500.  HRI’s contribution within this total sum will drop by €600k (or 2%), while the combined amount coming from owners’ entry fees and sponsorship will decline by an anticipated €1.9m (11%).  A similar 5% cut in the prize money for Point-to-Points will also apply.

2.  Fixtures
There will be no further reduction in fixtures for 2011 (beyond the ten meetings already lost - down from 345 to 335) and the Autumn Point-to-Point season will be retained.

3.  Racecourse Capital Developments
The Racecourse Capital Development Fund and Racecourse Improvements Scheme will continue to be curtailed with no new projects to be approved in the short-term.  These critical development schemes have been financed in the past through long-term borrowings.  Until a secure funding mechanism is put in place, borrowings to cover necessary future work cannot be put in place. Additionally, there will be a cut of €600k in direct racecourse support schemes.

4.  Cost Savings
HRI's administration costs will be cut by 6%.  Grants to industry bodies, such as the Irish Equine Centre, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association and RACE, will be reduced collectively by 8%.

5.  Integrity/Racecourse Services
The Turf Club is independently targeting savings of 7% in relation to integrity costs, which are incorporated into the budget.  An equivalent saving is being sought in relation to the integrity costs for Point-to-Point races. The cost of racecourse services such as patrol camera, photo finish and starting stalls will also be reduced by 8%.

HRI's Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh, said:

"While further cutbacks are extremely regrettable, they are unavoidable given the fourth cut in the space of two years to HRI's funding, which has now fallen by €15m, or 25%, since 2008. A secure, long-term funding structure is central to a return to growth within our industry. The foal population has dropped by 40% over the past two years and horses in training are currently down 15% compared to last year. The HRI Board consequently felt that it was important to retain our minimum value for prize money at its current level of €7000.

"HRI will continue to work to ensure that all types of off-shore betting, including betting exchanges, are captured within the taxation net on an equitable basis.  The next step will be to secure an appropriate increase in the taxation rate to ensure that there is no future requirement for any direct exchequer subvention. The current rate of betting duty in Ireland is the lowest in the world and a modest increase will safeguard jobs in rural Ireland, ensure continued inward investment from overseas owners and enable the resumption of vital Racecourse Capital Development Programmes as soon as possible, thereby creating significant employment around the country."

Posted on 17/12/2010.

Julie Burke announced as Recipient of the 2011 Kyne Wilson Scholarship.

 Beverley Racecourse has announced that the recipient of the prestigious Kyne Wilson Scholarship for 2011 will be up and coming apprentice jockey, Julie Burke.

Now in its second year, Beverley Racecourse awards the Kyne Wilson Scholarship in memory of apprentice jockeys Jamie Kyne and Jan Wilson who tragically lost their lives in a fire in Norton, in September 2009.  The scholarship supports a Yorkshire based apprentice jockey each year and includes sponsorship and support, with a package worth in the region of £4,000.

 Miss Burke is employed by leading Thirsk-based racehorse trainer Kevin Ryan and has been based in England since July.  The 21 year old hails from a racing family in County Kildare and has been riding in races for three years. Miss Burke came to Britain for more riding opportunities and her talent has not gone unnoticed, amassing more than 80 rides in races across the country in the four months since she has been based in Yorkshire - having already amassed 14 winners in her fledgling career.

 In deciding the 2011 recipient, Sally Iggulden, Chief Executive of the Beverley Race Company, said:

“The Kyne Wilson Scholarship presents a unique and exciting opportunity for young people to get on and better themselves in the tough world of horseracing. Jan and Jamie will never be forgotten in the industry, and supporting apprentice jockeys seems an appropriate legacy. We had been watching apprentice races throughout the season, and I had mentioned the scholarship to several trainers and racing aficionados and one name kept popping up.  We approached Julie who was delighted to take on the scholarship and I am very much looking forward to working with her in 2011”

As the recipient of the 2011 Kyne Wilson Scholarship, Miss Burke said,

“It is a real honour to be riding in memory of Jan and Jamie next season and I will do my very best to do them proud. I am pleased to be associated with Beverley Racecourse and just hope I can notch up a few winners there! The scholarship is a fantastic idea and I am sure that I will really benefit from it.”

Posted on 09/12/2010.

Tetley steps down at Thirsk.

 Thirsk Racecourse has appointed International Racecourse Management Limited (IRM) to manage its affairs with effect from Tuesday 04 January 2011, when the current Managing Director and Clerk of the Course, Christopher Tetley, who has managed Thirsk Racecourse since 1985, will step-down.

 Paying tribute to Christopher Tetley the Thirsk Chairman John Smith said:

             “Christopher has done a great job developing Thirsk Racecourse into a thriving             modern country track and, after some 25 years at the helm, he has now decided to step-down.    On behalf of everybody connected with Thirsk, we wish him a long and happy retirement.   We are, however, delighted that Christopher will
            continue as non-executive Director of Thirsk, as well as assisting IRM in his capacity as a Clerk of the Course, and so he will remain a familiar figure around
            the Racecourse!”
In reply, Christopher Tetley said:

             “I have had many wonderful years as Managing Director at Thirsk, and would like to thank my co-Directors and all of the staff for their support throughout my
            tenure.     Like a number of racecourses in recent years, with careful investment, Thirsk Racecourse has evolved into a modern, thriving and diverse business and leisure venue and I am delighted to have played a part in Thirsk’s success. I believe that now is the right time for me to step-aside as Managing Director.”

Posted on 01/12/2010.

Ffos Las and William Hill agree 3 year deal. 

Northern Racing and Ffos Las Racecourse today announced a three-year sponsorship deal for the williamhill.com Welsh Champion Hurdle.

The six-figure agreement runs until 2013 and positions the two-mile race as a major target for every top hurdler in Britain and Ireland.

The race was revived earlier this year at Ffos Las Racecourse, but the scheduled fixture in January was abandoned because of extreme wintry conditions.

The inaugural new williamhill.com Welsh Champion Hurdle, with £45,000 in prize-money, will now take place on Saturday 05 February 2011.

 Northern Racing’s Group Managing Director Tony Kelly said:

“This is a fantastic sponsorship deal for the race which helps to give it the status that it deserves in the jump racing calendar.  We are thrilled that William Hill are giving the race their support.

“I’m sure, with its great timing less than six weeks before the Cheltenham Festival and its Channel 4 coverage, it is a race that will be of interest to the connections of the leading contenders for the Champion Hurdle itself.”

Posted on 11/11/2010.

Channel 4 figures up during Flat Season.

Channel 4 Racing’s 2010 Flat season coverage (May – October) reached a seasonal total of 10,793,000 unique viewers, with an average daily hit of an impressive 1,018,000 viewers.  The figures are a 5% rise on the 2009 season with 18.9% of the television population tuning in to horseracing.

Saturday, 29 May was the highest rated 2010 programme, featuring the Temple Stakes from Haydock Park with additional racing from Newmarket and Beverley. 

 Doncaster’s St Leger meeting (Saturday, 11 September) drew the highest daily reach with 1,368,000 viewers, over 7% share and 653,000 programme average.

 Glorious Goodwood (late July) and Newmarket’s Champions Day (Oct 16) came in the Top 4 ranking C4R broadcasts.  The Flat Jockey’s Championship which went to the wire last Saturday (06 November) and was narrowly won by Paul Hanagan; reached a note worthy 1,433,000 viewers.

 The demographics for Channel 4 Racing remain largely unaltered:

At the helm of Channel 4’s flat racing coverage was MIKE CATTERMOLE and EMMA SPENCER – a new 2010 initiative.  Throughout the season, both presenters fronted 48 programmes with a tally of 293 races and made frequent appearances on Saturday’s The Morning Line.  JOHN FRANCOME. JIM McGRATH, SIMON HOLT, JOHN McCRIRICK, TANYA STEVENSON, TOM LEE and DEREK THOMPSON maintained their traditional and indispensable roles.

The Morning Line, recently revitalised with NICK LUCK taking responsibility of the show, supported by LESLEY GRAHAM, has been rewarded with a 19% increase in viewers with a 250,000 daily average.  Further changes are to be announced in the New Year.

Posted on 10/11/2010.

Musselburgh have positive results in difficult times.

According to interim attendance and income figures, Musselburgh Racecourse has performed well during the 2010 flat season. Over 18 meetings, one more than last year, the East Lothian course increased attendance by 3519 (+7.8%) to 47,131 -  while the average attendance rose by 2.1% to 2,618.

Income from admissions jumped 10.7% to £539,232 -  while sponsorship income rose by an impressive 13.9% to £148,000 and corporate hospitality revenue increased by 20.9% to £277,615.

But the good news was tempered by a word of warning from general manager Bill Farnsworth about future problems for all UK racecourses due to the on-going dispute between bookmakers and the Levy Board.

 The majority of prize money offered at racecourses is paid out of the Levy, which is a tariff imposed on the gross profits of bookmakers. Negotiations between the racing  and bookmaking industries to set the 2011-12 Levy have broken down but its recently been announced by the Levy Board that expenditure in 2011 will be £60 million, down almost half on the Levy return of £115 million received in 2008-09.

Discussing the current and potential on-going situation, Mr Farnsworth said:

“Trading conditions for all racecourses have been incredibly tough over the last year so our figures are all the more encouraging, albeit we had an extra meeting this year.

 “The improved figures are a direct result of the investment we continue to make in improving the facilities and quality of racing at Musselburgh and from constantly finding new ways to encourage more people to enjoy horseracing.

“However, the satisfaction of these fine results will be short lived unless the Government can thrash out a fair and equitable return from the bookmaking industry. Without this, we and many other racecourses face a bleak future with diminishing prize money which will hit the quality of racing and has a knock-on effect of diluting sponsorship revenues and attendance figures.”

Looking ahead to Musselburgh’s nine fixture National Hunt season, which starts on Friday 19 November, Mr Farnsworth added:

“Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Levy, we have put  together one of Musselburgh’s strongest National Hunt programmes and hope this produces the same positive results as the flat season achieved.”

Posted on 08/11/2010.

Tote announce new sponsership deal with Jockey Club Racecourses.


The Tote has signed a two-year deal with Haydock Park Racecourse to sponsor the Haydock Park Gold Cup in February which will now be known as the totesport.com Grand National Trial (registered as the Haydock Park Gold Cup).

As well as the totesport.com Grand National Trial at Haydock Park, the Tote will also sponsor another four races on the card, including the Rendlesham Hurdle, Victor Ludorum Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle and Walrus Hunter Chase.

As part of this new deal, the Tote has developed a bonus scheme in conjunction with Jockey Club Racecourses centred around the John Smith’s Grand National.  This will see winning connections pick up £250,000 if the same horse manages to win the totesport Classic Chase at Warwick, the totesport.com Grand National Trial at Haydock and the Aintree showpiece in April, where totesport is also the official betting partner.

The ‘totesport Road to Aintree’ bonus will be split between the owner, trainer, jockey and stable staff in an effort to encourage potential Grand National candidates to run in all three races.  60% of the bonus will go to the owner, 20% to the trainer, 10% to the jockey with the remaining 10% going to stable staff in the winning yard.

In the event that either Warwick or Haydock Park is abandoned, the bonus will be reduced to £100,000 for any horse that manages to win either the totesport Classic Chase at Warwick or the totesport.com Grand National trial at Haydock and then go on to complete a double in the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree. The revised bonus will be split between winning connections in the same proportions as indicated above for the £250,000 bonus.

Posted on 03/11/2010.

Scottish Racecourses to raise Levy question at the highest level.

The Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, MP, is to raise the issue of British horseracing and Levy revenues with colleagues in the UK Government.

This action follows a meeting with representatives of The Friends of Scottish Racing Parliamentary Group (FoSR) at Westminster, in which the delegates highlighted how Scotland’s five racecourses will be hardest hit by the likely reduction in Levy income.

 The Horseracing Levy is a tax paid by bookmakers based on their gross profits and used partly to fund prize money at UK race meetings. But racecourse chiefs say loopholes in legislation is allowing bookmakers to avoid paying the surcharge and this will have a massive knock-on effect on the racing industry.

It is forecast revenue from the Levy will fall to less than £60 million in 2010-11, down by almost half (£115 million) in 2008-09.

The cross parliamentary FoSR delegation was led by Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock MP, Sandra Osborne and included fellow MPs Fiona O’Donnell and Pete Wishart, Scottish Racing manager, Rebecca Ricketts, Musselburgh Racecourse boss Bill Farnsworth and Richard Johnston, managing director of Ayr Racecourse.

Sandra Osborne, MP, said:

“The yearly wrangling over the betting levy is now putting Scottish racing at risk in a totally unacceptable way.

“As Members of Parliament who have racecourses in our constituencies, we are only too well aware of the benefits racing brings locally and nationally. We strongly welcome any assistance the Secretary of State can give and we will continue to push for a speedy and fair settlement of the current impasse, as well as a long term solution which guarantees that the tremendous progress racing has made in Scotland continues.”

Bill Farnsworth, general manager at Musselburgh Racecourse and a board member of racing’s governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, welcomed the fact Mr Moore was raising the issue, saying:

 “Without a strong and fair Levy, a vicious circle will develop in which prize money drops, the quality of racing declines, racecourse make less money and therefore can’t put up as much money in prizes, and ultimately we will stage fewer fixtures.

 “Scottish racecourses will feel this most acutely and will be first to suffer. This is because we are more geographically remote from most of the training centres in England and trainers and owners will question the economic viability of racing in Scotland.

“We welcome the fact the Secretary of State for Scotland is raising the issue at the highest Government level and will continue to challenge the Government to address this situation before a crisis becomes a full blown catastrophe.”

Posted on 02/11/2010.

McGrath leaves his post at BHA.

Former Timeform Chairman and Channel 4 television pundit Jim McGrath has resigned from his position as an independant director with the British Horseracing Authority, his resignation having taken effect on 31 October 2010.

McGrath has issued a prepared statement, the precis of which was his disagreement with many of the recommendations of the Racing For Change panel, and because of this incompatibility of views, he felt his position on the BHA board was untenable.

It is understood, the final straw from McGrath's point of view was the recommendation to combine the important October meetings at Ascot and Newmarket into a single Champions Day meeting at Ascot, which will then oppose the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe meeting at Longchamp.

Posted on 01/11/2010.

Government will now decide fiftieth Levy.

The Horseracing Betting Levy Board and the Bookmakers Committee failed to reach agreement before the deadline of midnight last night on the amount of the fiftieth Levy scheme which is due to run from 01 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. Consequently, under the agreed arbitration method originally set-up, the decision on the final figure for the Fiftieth Levy will now be left to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport.

The two sides in the negotiations are wide apart, and their respective current statements reflect this situation, with Levy Board Chairman Paul Lee saying:

"It is disappointing that it has not proved possible to reach agreement on the fiftieth Levy scheme despite protracted and in-depth discussions, board meetings, and other negotiation, but it is obvious to me, the representatives of racing and the Bookmakers Committee remain significantly apart".

Speaking on behalf of the Bookmakers Committee, Chairman Will Roseff commented:

"The Committee constructed a very good argument which realistically addressed the challenges faced by bookmakers and racing, but the HBLB has decided not to approve the recommendations, and the Bookmakers Committee feel this is clear evidence that the current system has failed.

"It is now time to replace the Levy system with a new commercial relationship which will reflect racings true worth in the highly competitive bookmaking sector, and we feel racing must face up to the reality that is effecting every other aspect of the British economic landscape, for while the nation looks forward to a future of austerity and cuts in the spending of public money, racing is still looking for substantial increases from the HBLB, and this policy brings more uncertainty to an industry that requires a period of stability and a new commercial reality.

"Come what may, we will continue to work with racing to achieve a satisfactory long term solution".

Posted on 01/11/2010.

William Hill insist Betfair have an Identity Crisis.

In his first interview as Chief Executive of Betfair plc, David Yu'has revealed his firm has a serious identity crisis.

Yu claims Betfair is a bookmaker. Up to now that is an assertion his company has angrily refuted, claiming instead to be just a simple technology platform. On that basis it has avoided paying around three times less in tax and levy than traditional UK bookmakers - like William Hill.

 The technology claim has enabled Betfair to pay tax and Levy only on the commission it charges backers and layers operating through its UK exchange. It seems David Yu has now stopped believing his own propaganda.

 Ralph Topping, William Hill's Chief Executive, commenting on this issue said:

"The emergence of Betfair has distorted the UK betting market and led to very significant tax and Levy leakage. The taxpayer and the racing industry have been the losers.

"Most expert observers believe that Betfair has many unidentified big layers on its platform paying no tax and no levy. It is ridiculous for Betfair to claim to be the injured party when in fact other operators Like William Hill have had to go offshore in the face of a company which has gamed the system to secure a competitive advantage".

Posted on 01/11/2010.

Leopardstown Announces New Five Year Deal with BHB. 

BHP Insurances Ltd and Leopardstown Racecourse today announced a new five year deal which will see the 100% Irish owned Insurance Company sponsor the Irish Champion Hurdle until 2015 -
(BHP Insurance Brokers, based in Dublin, is one of the leading providers of Insurance and Financial Planning services to the corporate sector and personal consumers).

Announcing the sponsorship at Leopardstown on Monday 01 November, were Mark Phelan, Managing Director BHP, Tom Burke, General Manager Leopardstown Racecourse and Irish Champion Jockey Paul Carberry.   
Carberry who is currently leading the National Hunt Jockeys Championship in Ireland, was keen to lend his support to the launch of a long term sponsorship which demonstrates great confidence in the racing industry as a commercial platform for the marketing of Irish Businesses.  

This race has been won in previous years by some of the best hurdlers in racing history, including; Solwhit, Brave Inca, Sizing Europe, Hardy Eustace (dual winner), Macs Joy, Foreman, Like-a-butterfly, Ned Kelly, Istabraq (a 4 time winner), and looking even further back - Dawn Run (1984), Captain Christy (1973), L’Escargot (1969) and Flying Bolt (1964).

Mark Phelan, Managing Director BHP said: -

“BHP is delighted to partner with Leopardstown in this wonderful opportunity to support Irish Horse Racing. The Champion Hurdle has an unrivalled pedigree and we are delighted to play a part in further building its status in the years ahead.” 

Ciaran Conroy, Commercial Manager Leopardstown Racecourse stated:
“ We are delighted that Mark and his team have identified the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown as a wonderful commercial opportunity for BHP Insurance Brokers. The Irish Champion Hurdle remains as one of the greatest racing occasions on the Sporting Calendar. BHP’s investment provides an excellent platform to create awareness and profile for their brand. We look forward to working closely with BHP over the next 5 years.”

 

Posted on 24/10/2010.

Roy accused of hypocrisy.

After spending several years criticising the role the Betfair Betting Exchange has played in reducing the amount of Levy being put back into racing by the bookmaking companies, Chairman of the BHA, Paul Roy, is now under fire from various racing sources after it was revealed a City company he founded, and of whom he is still Chairman, bought £5 million of the Betfair issue described in the article below.

Roy's company, New Smith, actually subscribed to purchase £40 million of the issue, but such was the demand for shares in the IPO, they only managed to obtain one eidghth of their initial objective.

With Betfair shares actually rising by 19% on their initial offer price in the first day of trading, from a financila point of view, the purchase by New Smith appears to have been a sound financial move, but it will be interesting to see how much flak Roy now takes from the racing industry over perceived hypocrisy, and whether, in the long term, his role as Chairman of the BHA can remain tenable, particularly as the other 8 members of the BHA Board are remaining tight lipped over the current situation.

Posted on 22/10/2010.

Good response in early Betfair trading.

In their Initial Public Offer, (ipo), Betfair betting exchange were offering their shares at £13 each on the London Stock Exchange, (LSE), giving the company an initial valuation of £1.39 billion.

The issued shares were placed in the upper bracket of the guide price - which suggested £11 to £14 - and they began conditional trading in the stockmarket first thing on the morning of 22 October. They are then due to be available for trading on the main LSE market for listed securities at 8.00 am on 27 October.

At £13 per share, and almost 107 million shares in issue, before trading started, the company was valued at £1.39 billion, but after early trading, the shares rose to around £15.50 each.

Only 15% of Betfair's total shares have been issued, but there is an over allotment provision, where a further 10.8% of the shares could be made available within 30 days of the initial flotation.

The majority of shares issued by existing stockholders are subject to lock-up arrangements, meaning they cannot be traded for 180 days by normal stockholders, and 365 days by directors and senior managers. The arrangement accounts for 66.7% of existing stock, and 65% if the over allotment option is exercised in full.

Posted on 21/10/2010.

Order of Merit abandoned.

The national hunt Order of Merit, which allocated points to the first four home in 70 selected high profile national hunt races during the season to produce a points winner who received a £100,000 cash prize has been scrapped.

Won earlier this year by Jonjo o'Neills Albertas Run, the Order of Merit relied on racecourses donating financial support to the scheme, but with the priority now being to ensure prize money for race meetings, the decision was made to abandon the current scheme.

However, plans are afoot to create a new scheme entitled the British Jumps Championship - the road to Cheltenham, and work to be undertaken by the Racing For Change Group will take place over the coming months to secure the details and finance for the new scheme, with a roll-out planned for season 2011 - 2012.

Posted on 20/10/2010/

RCA endorses rallying cry over Levy.

The RCA wholeheartedly endorses Lord Howard’s rallying cry to British horseracing to seek an early agreement on the future structure of the Levy, following the Department of Culture and Media’s confirmation that the Levy Board is to be retained.

We also welcome the recent DCMS announcement that Government intends to remove the Secretary of State’s role in determining the Levy and their support for a broadening of the base on which the Levy is collected.

The RCA and its member racecourses have united with their fellow stakeholders in Racing to launch the Racing United Campaign for a fair Levy, which calls on the Government to close the loopholes which prevent Racing from receiving a fair return from betting, a key element of which is the avoidance of Levy by offshore bookmakers, highlighted by Lord Howard.

Ian Barlow, RCA Chairman, said: 

“I fully support Lord Howard’s call for Racing to work with betting and the Government to modernise the Levy, so that Racing receives a fair return from betting.  His comments are a timely reminder of the growing support for the Racing United campaign, which has seen thousands of racing fans sign up to our charter in the last few weeks alone.”

Simon Bazalgette, Chairman of Jockey Club Racecourses, said:

"JCR fully supports Lord Howard's comments on the current Levy system. British racing is united on this issue and will continue to suffer while the betting industry is able to exploit loopholes in the system. We need modernisation in line with today’s business environment.”

David Thorpe, Chairman of Arena Leisure Plc, said: 

“Arena Leisure supports both Lord Howard’s statement and the Government announcement that the funding for racing should be collected from as broad a base as possible.  The most important next step is for Government and the Levy Board to close the loopholes that have enabled certain elements of the betting industry to avoid paying Levy even though they directly benefit from British horseracing.  This is causing damage to a world class sport.”

Posted on 06/10/2010.

BBM appoint Harry Herbert as Chairman.

Harry Herbert, the Chief Executive of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, has been appointed as the non-executive chairman elect of the British Bloodstock Marketing organisation based in Newmarket.

Herbert will replace Gavin Pritchard Gordon, who is due to leave the organisation on 31 October after two and a half years at the helm.

A delighted Herbert commented:

"I'm delighted to accept the position of non-executive chairman of British Bloodstock Marketing. The organisation has done a fantastic job in raising the profile of british bloodstock in a short space of time, and I am very much looking forward to working closely with the BBM team and committee in continuing to develop links with overseas markets while promoting the success of british bred horses at home and abroad".

Posted on 06/10/2010.

Qatar agree to extend Arc sponsership for 10 more years.

In these austere times, officials of France Galop are absolutely delighted to have secured a new sponsership deal for Longchamp's flagship Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe.

With the original five year sponsership deal due to end in 2012, a new sponsership deal has been agreed between Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club and France Galop, with the afore mentioned organisation now extending its sponsership of the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe until 2022.

In 2008, the 'Arc' was the richest race in the world, but it has since been eclipsed by races in japan and Dubai, but under the new agreement, which takes into account exchange fluctuations, based on current exchange rates, between 2013 and 2017 the prize fund for the Qatar Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe will be 4-8 million euros per year, and between 2018 and 2022, the annual prize fund for the race will be a staggering 5.3 million euros.

By any standards this is a huge sponsership deal, and one suspects this represents France Galop throwing down the gauntlet in the direction of Britain's Racing for Change organisation, the latter having recently announced the new multi million pound Champions Day Meeting at Ascot.

Posted on 27/09/2010.

Stan James to sponser Champion Hurdle and Major Trials.

Bookmakers Stan James have signed a 5 year deal to take over as the sponsers of the premier two mile hurdle at the March Cheltenham Festival. Henceforward to be known as the Stan James Champion Hurdle, thr race will be the main highlight of the first day of the 4 day festival of national hunt racing.

In addition, Stan James are to take over the sponsership of three of the major trial races for each year's Champion Hurdle, with the firm now sponsering the stanjames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle in November, the stanjames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, and the stanjames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock Park in January.

Posted on 21/09/2010.

Betfair flotation looking imminent.

Ed Wray and Andrew Black, the founders of the Betfair Betting Exchange, have apparently started the ball rolling on their long awaited public flotation of the business on the open stock exchange. The move has been rumoured in the city for some time, and it is thought any official statement on a flotation which could value Betfair at around £1.5 billion, was delayed until a more positive attitude could be identified in stock exchange trading.

Wray and Black founded Betfair just 11 years ago, and they have been at the helm during the betting exchange's period of expenential growth. It is understood the two intend to sell off part of their combined 24% current share in the company, and if the flotation goes well, it could add substantially to both men's personal fortunes.

If the flotation meets predicted expectations, it could see Betfair enter the ftse 250. But Betfair are yet to provide pricing details for the offer, and all that has been confirmed to date is some of the major investors are likely to sell off 10% of their holdings.

Currently, there are 14 major shareholders who hold 75% of the company, and Betfair predict around half of this group are likely to participate in any sale of shares.

A further 600 shareholders, who own around 25% of the business, will also be given the opportunity to seel stock, but no new shares will be sold in the offer.

Mr Wrayand Mr Black are predicted to sell 10% of their holding in the company, and speaking on behalf of the pair, Mr Wray commented:

"The flotation will represent a landmark in Betfair's history, as becoming a Public Limited Company will provide Betfair with the heightened profile and enhanced transparency that will help to cement our long term relationship with customers, regulators, and our business partners around the world."

Posted on 15/09/2010.

Tote Sale consultation to commence.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne had indicated back in June he was minded to go ahead with the sale of the Tote, which had been put on hold in 2008 due to adverse conditions in the financial markets, and today, the sale has moved a stage nearer, with Minister of Tourism and Heritage John Penrose issuing the following written statement to the House of Commons:

"'The government is now preparing to launch an open market process in the late autumn, which will invite proposals from interested parties. The process will be open to all organisations who have an interest in the Tote, and the government expects to be in a position to advise the House of progress in the new year.

"The government will continue to liase closely with the Board of the Tote and other racing interests as this process unfolds."

Replying to the statement on behalf of the BHA, CEO Nick Coward said:

"Racing, through the offices of the BHA, has been in close dialogue with the government about resolving the future of the Tote over the past few months. A creative modern approach is needed, and we look forward to continuing a constructive process with the interests of racing at heart, as confirmed by the Chancellor, the Secretary of State and The Minister in today's statement."

Pertemps bucks trend and extends racing sponsership.

International recruitment firm Pertemps have today confirmed they are to extend their sponsership of national hunt racing.

Since 2002, Pertemps have supported a series of qualifying hurdle races which give access to the Pertemps Hurdle Final on the Thursday of the March Cheltenham Festival Meeting, and this year, they are to extend the number of qualifying races by 7.

France already has a qualifier at Auteuil racecourse in Paris, but this year there will be two additional races at Cagnes Sur in December and January, and Pau in January and February.

Ireland will keep its qualifier at Punchestown, but their wil be three additional races in Britain, with Exeter, Huntingdon and Carlisle being the courses in receipt of additional race sponsership.

Posted on 03/09/2010.

Boylesports to Sponsor Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.

Officials at the  Curragh Racecourse are delighted to announce, leading Irish bookmaker Boylesports have agreed to sponsor the National Stakes.

The Group 1 contest takes place on Saturday 11 September as part of a star studded line up of races, which also features The Irish Field St Leger.
This is another positive boost for the €200,000 race, following news that leading two year old Pathfork is likely to be supplemented into the seven furlongs contest. 

The National Stakes, which is part of the Breeders Cup Challenge Series, was first run in 1849 and is one of the premier races for two year olds in Europe. Recent winners include New Approach, Teofilo, George Washington and Sinndar,

Since last year, the race is associated with the memory of the legendary Vincent O’Brien, with the O’Brien Family presenting a perpetual trophy to the winning owner.

Speaking on behalf of the Curragh, Paul Hensey, General Manager, commented:

“We are delighted to welcome back Boylesports to the Curragh, having previously enjoyed an excellent partnership with them when they sponsored the Irish Guineas Festival, and we now look forward to working with them to help maximise their new association with what is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious races for juveniles in Europe.”

Mark Nunan, Head of Marketing for Boylesports, commented,

“Once again, we are delighted to show our commitment to top level Irish racing by sponsoring the Boylesports.com Vincent O’Brien National Stakes. It will be great to be back at headquarters after sponsoring the Boylesports.com Irish Guineas for so long.

“This sponsorship further cements our involvement with Irish Racing and we look forward to announcing more brand investments in the coming months”,

Posted on 01/09/2010.

Paddy Power buck the sponsership trend.

In a move which contradicts the current trend, Irish bookmakers Paddy power have agreed to extend their sponsership of 3 races at Cheltenham's Open Meeting until 2012.

The Open Meeting, held at Cheltenham in mid November, is in total crowd terms the third most popular national hunt meeting staged in Britain, with only the Cheltenham Festival and the Aintree Grand National Meetings outstriping it in terms of total crowd numbers.

It is understood the sponsership extension includes the Paddy Power Gold Cup on the Saturday of the 3 day meeting, Friday's paddypower.com Handicap Chase, and Sunday's Paddy Power Intermediate Handicap Hurdle.

Speaking on behalf of his organisation, Paddy Power said:

"This new agreement underpins Paddy Power's commitment to racing during a time of adversity for the industry, and we are ecstatic to be part of an extremely rare news story regarding racing sponsership, where we are bucking the trend of so many others who are pulling the plug on their support of racing."

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Posted on 26/08/2010.

Victor Chandler to close customer telephone betting lines.

Bookmakers Victor Chandler have decided to close their telephone betting service to all but VIP customers from 01 September 2010.

Based in Gibraltar the call centre will now be turned over to a 24 hour Customer Care Service, and existing telephone customers will be encouraged to switch over to the on-line service offered on the bookmakers website.

With only 0.3% of Victor Chandler's turn-over now coming from telephone betting, the firm believe the time is right to amend their customer care and betting profile, and the firm have managed the change-over without the neeed for any compulsary redundancies.

Posted on 02/08/2010.

Vivien Kyles elected to RCA Board.

The Racecourse Association Limited (RCA) have announce the appointment of Hamilton Park Racecourse Chief Executive Vivien Kyles to the RCA Board. 
The appointment took effect from 01 August 2010 for a term of two years and Kyles will represent the independent racecourses, alongside Clive Buckle and Christopher Tetley. 

Qualified accountant Kyles joined Hamilton Park Racecourse as Chief Executive in the summer of 2008, having previously been Chief Executive at Livingston FC, and is actively involved in the Racing for Change project, as a member of the RCA Raceday Experience Group.

Upon her appointment, Kyles said:

“I’m absolutely delighted to take up this role and to be able to play a part in helping to shape the industry going forward.

“There are echoes with my experience in football when I joined the SFL management committee just two years after becoming Chief Executive at Livingston. By my own admission I was a newcomer to racing when I was recruited by Hamilton Park in 2008 but I’ve implemented many new ideas since then which have benefitted the venue and the business and it is new ideas I hope to bring to the table at the RCA.

“There will be many opportunities for racing in Great Britain to develop in both traditional and new areas in the years ahead and I’m confident my sporting and business experience will help me play a major role in making that happen.”

The RCA’s Chief Executive, Stephen Atkin, said: 

“We are pleased to welcome Vivien to the RCA Board.  With her background and knowledge she will bring new and innovative ideas to the table, which we are looking forward to.”

Sir Ian Good, Chairman of Hamilton Park Racecourse, added:

“Everyone associated with Hamilton Park is very pleased with this announcement. It is a great reflection of Vivien’s achievements here since 2008 which have been carried out in a short timeframe and in what everyone recognises are challenging economic conditions.

“As Vivien says, there are opportunities out there for racing in Great Britain to develop as a sport and as a business in the years ahead and I have every confidence that she can make a significant contribution at the RCA.”

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Posted on 29/07/2010.

Racing for Change outline Digital promotion campaign.

Racing for Change, the initiative tasked with broadening the appeal of horseracing, has launched the first phase of a multi-channel digital campaign to entice a new audience to the sport. The campaign is being masterminded by Rippleeffect, who were awarded the task following a competitive three-way pitch.

Rippleffect will be developing an interactive ‘Love the Races’ campaign that will widen the appeal of horseracing and provide insight into what a day at the races is like for those who have limited experience. The campaign will use social media to recruit a number of ‘Voices of the Races,’ who will then be asked to record their raceday experiences via blogs, vlogs and channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

The personnel at Rippleffect are experts at delivering digital sports content and have devised digital campaigns for more than 20 sporting brands, including Arsenal and Everton Football Clubs, Arena Leisure and SMG Europe.

Nigel Roddis of Racing For Change commented:

“Rippleeffect offered an impressive understanding of the social media market and presented some exciting proposals which made them a standout application. We’re very excited about the launch of LovetheRaces.com and the way that this new digital offering will enable us to communicate with the modern consumer.”

Craig Johnson, Commercial Director at Rippleffect, said:

“Sporting brands need to be more inclusive and innovative in the way they attract ever more demanding audiences. This campaign places huge importance on encouraging racegoers to create content for the site, such as reporting from trackside, and taking part in photography or video competitions.

“It’s important the campaign allows people to get under the skin of horseracing through the website and complementary digital channels used by audiences not familiar with an enjoyable racing experience. The digital campaign will gather fans and give them more exposure to horse racing which in turn, will help increase the numbers of visitors to racecourses across the UK.”

Posted on 26/07/2010.

William Hill move telephone service to Gibraltar.

William Hill has offered a telephone betting service for decades and it still has one of the largest customer bases in the UK, but due to economic pressures, the firm have now been forced to announce structural changes to its Telephone betting business. In the fourth quarter of 2010, William Hill’s existing Telephone betting business will close its operation in the UK. At the same time, William Hill Online will establish a new Telephone betting operation in Gibraltar.

It is understood,  William Hill have today entered into a 90-day period of consultation with those employees affected by the changes. The current intention is that William Hill Online, together with an outsourced service provider, Vertex, will continue to service all William Hill Telephone customers. Vertex will take over the Sheffield-based call centre currently run by William Hill’s existing Telephone business and that William Hill Online will also manage customers from Gibraltar. William Hill claim customers will benefit from an improved service, including being able to use their Telephone betting account for online transactions.  WHCL’s second call centre in Leeds will close, with all staff being offered alternative positions.

 William Hill is an international business which still retains significant interests in the UK in the form of its extensive betting shop estate and its listing on the London Stock Exchange. It is this Retail estate that provides the majority of revenue for the Group and William Hill will still pay significant amounts of taxes and levies in Great Britain. Currently, William Hill is a business that pays more in taxes and levies than it makes in operating profit.

 William Hill’s existing Telephone betting business made a loss of £1.8m in 2009 and a small operating loss is anticipated to be made in the first half of 2010.

Ralph Topping, Chief Executive of William Hill, said:

 “The current Government says it is committed to deregulation and providing a climate for growth. Our industry must have certainty and be allowed to grow because it can provide employment, it can provide growth and it provides harmless fun to hundreds of thousands of people. 

“We’ve campaigned long and hard on the issue of being allowed to grow our business. We warned that we would have to restructure Telephone. Do we have to close shops before others accept that our UK business is under unfair pressure? As a UK plc operating in a global context and responsible for some 16,000 employees, we do not have the luxury of waiting for years to see how fiscal and regulatory policy develops in our sector. We’ve done what we can to preserve UK jobs. We could have closed our telephone business down altogether. We currently have 170 unprofitable shops, 50 of which will have their future under review before the end of the year, which could put another 200 jobs at risk.

“Betting exchanges – and particularly Betfair as the dominant market player – have fundamentally changed the structure of the UK betting market with little reaction to this from government or other agencies. This has been exacerbated by competition from offshore telephone operators and the previous Government’s inertia over the issue of creating a level tax and regulatory playing field.

“William Hill pays more in taxes and levies than it makes in profit while the betting exchanges flourish under a favourable system where they only account for taxes and levies on the commission they charge to exchange users.

“Betting exchanges, we believe, no longer facilitate just peer-to-peer betting. We believe that there are large layers who provide crucial liquidity to the exchanges, some of whom may well be trading by way of business as if they were normal bookmakers, yet driving the vast majority of profits earned on the exchanges. All the while, the levies and tax yield decline.

“We’re glad to see the HBLB’s consultation on betting exchanges to determine the facts once and for all but this desperately also needs to be backed up by firm government action. While exchanges or their business users must start paying their fair share now, this doesn’t change the fact that the Levy system is no longer fit for purpose and must be replaced by a realistic commercial relationship between betting and racing.”

Posted on 26/07/2010.

HRI Announce 6-Month Figures.

Last Tuesday Horse Racing Ireland released the Irish racing industry figures for the six months to 30 June 2010, and these revealed positive signs in relation to racecourse attendances, but a continuing decline in the number of horses currently in training.

Commenting on the figures, Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive, Horse Racing Ireland said:

 “The most pleasing aspect of 2010 to date has been the recovery in racecourse attendances. Whilst they were down by 13,582 (an average of 12%) for the first three months of the year, the second quarter saw a return to growth with total crowds up by 11,579 (or an average of 3%). In the challenging economic environment, this reflects great credit on the efforts of racecourses to offer value for money packages and added entertainment.

“Initiatives such as Limerick’s Student Day, the continuing Bulmers Summer Evening Series at Leopardstown and the Curragh’s Friday music evenings have produced impressive results, while the major festivals such as Fairyhouse and Cork at Easter, Punchestown and the Derby meeting have all performed well. The Tote’s turnover is also close to last year’s levels (down 3% overall), although on-course Bookmaker betting (down 14%) remains under pressure”.

HRI also announced, in the first six months of 2010, a total of 9,597 horses were returned in training, a drop of 2%.  5,691 of these made it to the track, representing a total 14,219 runners in the six months from 01 January to 30 June.

Posted on 22/07/2010.

Jockey Club Racecourses step into funding breach.

With the battle still raging between the Horseracing Levy Board and the Bookmaking firms over the shortfall in revenue for the remainder of the 2010 British Horseracing Season, the Jockey Club Racecourses division of JCR Enterprises has committed itself to an approximate 10% increase in it's contributions to the Levy Board over the remainder of the year.

The 14 racecourses which make up Jockey Club Racecourses wer due to lose around £600,000 in funding cuts from the Levy Board during the rest of 2010, but the company are now to increase their contribution to the Levy Board from £12.5 million to £13.7 million.

Simon Bazelgette, Group Chief Executive of the Jockey Club said:

"We have taken the decision to increase our contribution towards total prize money to its highest ever level at a time when vastly reduced Levy contributions from other sources have reduced the total amount available for racing.

"It is the Jockey Club making our absolute maximum effort for the sport in a very difficult funding situation for all. There is no way we can fill the void created across the industry after such a dramatic drop in income, but I hope by injecting these extra funds from the bottom line of our business it will make a big difference when cascaded through the rest of the racing industry."

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Posted on 21/06/2010.

Gala Coral Restructuring Successfully Completeed.

Gala Coral, Britain's largest betting and gaming group, from the above date confirmed that it had successfully concluded a restructuring of the Group's balance sheet, providing it with a strong platform for future growth.

• Mezzanine debt holders have converted their £558m holding into equity, and have injected a further £200m in cash, which will go to pay down senior debt.

• As a result net debt will reduce by over £700m to circa £1.9b and senior secured debt will reduce to circa £1.5b which is less than 5x last 12 months EBITDA of circa £310m.

In return, the mezzanine holders will take ownership of the Group and existing shareholders Candover, Cinven and Permira will exit.

A reduced and revised senior debt facility will provide incremental covenant headroom for the company.

• The new shareholder group will be led by Apollo, Cerberus, Park Square and York Capital Management, each of which will each nominate a representative to the Group Board, in due course. 

• The restructured Group will retain over £200m of cash within the business, and is now focussed on investing for future growth in both its retail and online businesses.

Commenting on the restructure, Gala Coral’s Executive Chairman, Neil Goulden, said:

"I am delighted that, after nearly 12 months, we have successfully concluded one of the largest and most complex restructurings in UK corporate history.  The restructured Group is now in a strong position and fully able to compete in an increasingly competitive and global gambling market.  We have 17,000 employees, nearly 2,200 retail outlets, over 3.5 million active customers and some of the best known gambling brands in Europe in Gala, Coral and Eurobet.  When combined with our strong cash flow, reduced levels of debt, and over £200m in cash, we are very well positioned to invest in growth as the UK and global markets come out of recession.

"In Apollo, Cerberus, Park Square, York Capital Management and others we have an enviable stable of financially strong, supportive and engaged new shareholders.  At the same time, I would like to pay tribute to our exiting shareholders (Cinven, Candover and Permira), as well as our senior and PropCo lenders, who have supported us through a complex and often turbulent restructuring and have always acted in the very best interests of the company."
Rick Press, Partner at Apollo Management added:

"We are pleased that the balance sheet and ownership of Gala Coral is being restructured successfully in a consensual process. We are especially grateful for the support of Gala Coral’s customers and suppliers and the loyalty and dedication of its employees. The Gala Coral management team have done a terrific job guiding the business through this process and we, along with all the new shareholders, look forward to helping them to now position the company for future growth."

Posted on 12/06/2010/

Highflyer TV retain C4’s racing contract.

Channel 4 have announced Highflyer TV has won the two-year production rights for the corporation’s horse racing coverage.  The deal, in operation from January 2011 till December 2012, will merge with Highflyer’s current one-year Channel 4 Racing contract (2010) which coincides with Channel 4’s three-year media agreement with Racecourse Media Group.

 As part of its new contract, Highflyer will be responsible for producing about 80 days a year of live terrestrial horse racing coverage, plus 54 editions of The Morning Line.  Highflyer has also committed to introducing a range of innovations from graphical enhancements, additional onscreen talent to new editorial initiatives, which will together continue the process of modernising and further strengthening the content.

Julian Bellamy, Head of Channel 4, said:

“After a rigorous and valuable tender process, I am delighted that Highflyer has won.  The company’s commitment to quality and innovative broadcasting, combined with its unrivalled experience of the racing world, means Channel 4 will continue to be at the forefront of UK racing production.  I look forward to working with them over the coming years to develop ever more compelling programming for both existing and new audiences.”

John Fairley, Chairman of Highflyer TV Limited, commented:

“I am thrilled for everyone connected with Highflyer that we have won this two-year contract.  The entire team has worked tremendously hard to make the changes that have already been introduced on air this year.  However, we knew that these were only work in progress, and are delighted that we can continue with our plans for further improvements and innovation.“

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Posted on 21/05/2010

Horse Racing Ireland awarded Gold.

Horse Racing Ireland’s ‘Get OnCourse’ direct marketing campaign won the highly coveted Gold Award in the ‘Best Travel & Entertainment’ category at the 2010 An Post Direct Marketing Awards at the Mansion House on Thursday 20 May. Silver was awarded to The Gaiety Theatre for their website & supporting campaign while Sky took Bronze for their 2009 Christmas in High Definition.

Marketing agency, DirectBrand worked with Horse Racing Ireland to develop the ‘Get on Course’ campaign to promote the 2010 fixture list including Christmas Festivals at Leopardstown & Limerick and launch Willie Mullins as the National Hunt Ambassador.

The innovative direct mail piece also included a detachable, pocket-sized fixture list. The campaign which was launched in December 2009, was delivered to 80,000 racegoers on Horse Racing Ireland’s database.

Posted on 19/05/2010/

Volatile markets delay Betfair flotation.

With the current economic markets being so volatile, Europe's leading betting exchange - Betfair, have decided to delay their intended 1.5 billion pound flotation on the Stock Market.

With european governments having debt problems at present, the financial markets are subject to underlying weakness, and it is understood Betfair's financial advisors have warned against a flotation or IPO (initial public offer), which was thought to have been originally planned for July.

For the past few months the company have been recruiting top line executives to prepare for the financial expansion of the Betfair organisation, with a long term aim of making it the major world player in betting exchange and gambling activity. The delay in the flotation will now mean the company are having to finance several senior executives who have no definite portfolio in the short term.

When the flotation actually goes ahead, it is thought it will net Betfair founders Edward Wray and Andrew Black around 350 million pounds if they were to cash in their 24% stake in the business.

Posted on 17/05/2010.

Down-turn kicked into touch at Saint-Cloud Arqana Sale.

The general world economic situation may be precarious, but based on Saturday's Arqana Breeze Up Sale at Saint-Cloud in France, it is not effecting the european market in thoroughbred horses. With a host of new buyers joining the traditional acquirers of top class horse flesh, the Sale's total turn-over of 5.9 million euros was an increase of 44% on the 2009 figure.

The average sale price of 51,600 euros showed an increase of 24% on 2009, and including post official sale private transactions, the clear up rate for the sale was 85%.

Posted on 15/05/2010/

HRI Welcomes Legislation to Tax all Forms of Betting.

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) have welcomed a speech made by An Taoiseach Brian Cowen T.D. at a dinner in the Irish Farm Centre on Thursday night in which he announced that legislation would be introduced to tax all forms of betting.

In his speech at the Irish Field –hosted event, An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen stated:

“The Government will introduce legislation to ensure that overseas betting providers comply with a licensing regime that will permit them to sell their products into our jurisdiction. This will have the additional benefit of facilitating the extension of the tax regime for the betting industry to all those providing online and telephone betting and so underpin funding for the racing industry.”

HRI Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh said:

“This announcement maps out a solution to the questions surrounding the funding of the racing industry which has been of concern for some time. Reductions in funding have led to job losses and a weakening of our world-class industry. We have consistently said that its funding should be fully provided for through the duty on betting – a position which existed until returns to the exchequer fell by almost half in the face of competitive pressure from un-taxed betting.  We whole-heartedly welcome the Taoiseach’s announcement of a clear course of action to restore balance to the funding mechanism.” 

Speaking at the same event, Brendan Smith T.D. Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said:

“I share the Taoiseach’s view that now is the time for all stakeholders, of which the Government is one, to work together in the best interests of the future of the industry.  I can assure you of my commitment to work with all of the players to secure an ambitious and positive future for the Irish Racing Industry.” 

Posted on 10/052010.

Tote become official sponsorship partners for Epsom.

The Tote have announced, they have signed a deal to be Epsom’s official betting partner for the 2010 season, which includes the Investec Derby Festival as well as the popular 'Epsom Live' music nights that run throughout the summer months.

This latest addition to the Tote's sponsorship portfolio will provide a platform to promote both the Totesport and Totepool brands to a wider audience at what remains one of the premier sporting events in the UK.

The deal with Epsom follows a successful three year association for the Tote with Aintree as official betting partner for the John Smith's Grand National meeting, which provided the template for the partnership agreements that are now in place with all 60 racecourses in the UK.

'The Investec Derby Festival is another fantastic addition to our sponsorship portfolio and provides the perfect platform to cement our partnership with Epsom.  We’re confident that this deal will help us drive turnover on and off course to provide even greater returns for racing and punters,’ said totepool Managing Director David Craven.

The Tote is the biggest sponsor of racing under both codes in the UK, contributing over £3.5 million to support over 600 races per annum.  This includes many of racing's crown jewels, from the totesport Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, totesport Bowl at Aintree and totesport Trophy at Newbury over the jumps, to the big flat handicaps such as the totesport Mile at Goodwood, totesport Ebor at York and totesport Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch at Newmarket.

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Posted on 21/04/2010.

Roy pledges himself to BHA.

Paul Roy is known by many race-goers as the owner of such good horses as Fleeting Spirit, but for the last few years he has been acting as Chairman of the BHA and its predecessor - the BHB - and in a public announcement he has confirmed he has decided to stay on as Chairman of the BHA for a further 3 year term.

Roy has indicated he wants to see through the issues of the financial restructuring of British racing following the loss of levy revenue resulting from the movement of leading British bookmaking firms to offshore centres. He also wants to see through the modernisation recommendations of the Racing For Change Group, and he feels these combined tasks are likely to take at least another 3 years, and he is happy to serve as chairman while these important issues are hopefully resolved.

Posted on 20/04/2010.

PMU link into Windsor card hailed a success by totepool.

 Windsor’s evening meeting on Monday saw French punters betting into the Tote pools for the first time under an agreement between France-Galop and the PMU and there was immediate growth in the single leg pools.

Bets placed through the PMU on the win, place, exacta and trifecta markets totalled just over £412,000 on the first five races on the card and this agreement is set to continue at every Windsor Monday evening meeting this season.

Previously, the PMU had only bet on selected group races in England but a gap in the local racing calendar has seen the French operator link up with the UK Tote to provide betting throughout the summer.

‘We’re obviously pleased with the level of PMU turnover into Totepool at Windsor on Monday evening which underpins the attraction of UK racing from overseas,’ said totepool Managing Director David Craven.

‘This arrangement will continue throughout the summer and will hopefully lead to improved value for the UK punter and further co-mingling opportunities with overseas operators.’

Posted on 06/04/2010.

New sponsor for the Irish Grand National.

Fairyhouse Racecourse today announced Ladbrokes as the new sponsor of Ireland’s richest handicap steeplechase, The Irish Grand National.

The bookmaker has signed a three year deal to sponsor the feature race at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival. The first Ladbrokes Irish Grand National will take place on Easter Monday 25 April 2011. 

 Caroline Gray, General Manager of Fairyhouse Racecourse said:-  

“We are obviously thrilled to have signed a three year deal with Ladbrokes to sponsor our feature race. To sign such a lucrative contract a year in advance gives us a fantastic opportunity to bed down the sponsorship and work with Ladbrokes in building a wonderful campaign for 2011.

“As existing sponsors and our on-course bookmaker we have a great relationship with Ladbrokes and are very much looking forward to working with their team. They have some fantastic ideas and should bring a fresh approach to the race and the festival as a whole.

“Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard made this race their own during their sponsorship which spanned 40 years and we are delighted that they are continuing their long association with Fairyhouse through their ongoing sponsorship of the Powers Gold Cup.” 

 Commenting on the new sponsorship deal, Joe Lewins, Managing Director of Ladbrokes (Ireland) Limited said:-

“This race is regarded as the biggest National Hunt contest in Ireland, and as the largest bookmaking firm in Ireland, we see this as an ideal partnership. It is a highly prestigious event with appeal that reaches beyond the racing network to the wider public. It is a huge social event of historic importance which we plan to develop even further.

 “The Irish Grand National is another addition to our expansive sponsorship portfolio and we feel, in these times particularly, it is important to contribute in the preservation of a proud sporting tradition in Ireland. We have already started on plans for next year’s festival that will hopefully enhance the overall experience for racegoers and punters alike. We have had a great relationship with the staff at Fairyhouse and we very much look forward to working with them over the coming year to ensure the 2011 Ladbrokes Irish Grand National will be spectacular and a wonderful experience for all involved.”

Posted on 01/04/2010.

The Emirates Equestrian Federation to Sponsor Irish Guineas Festival.

The Curragh Racecourse has announced a five-year partnership with the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF), which includes sponsorship of the Irish Guineas Festival.

Now to be re-named the Abu Dhabi Irish Guineas Festival, the weekend will feature the Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas on Saturday, May 22 and the Etihad Airways Irish 1000 Guineas on Sunday, May 23.
The sponsorship arrangement also includes the first race in the 2010 calendar of the prestigious President of the UAE Cup Series for purebred Arabian horses, as well as, naming rights to four other thoroughbred races throughout the weekend.

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Posted on 31/03/2010.

Richard Glynn appointed as Ladbrokes new Chief Executive.

Ladbrokes have announced the appointment of Richard Glynn as their new Chief Executive Oficer. Formerly appointed as Chief Executive of Sporting Index in 2001, Glynn took over as Chairman at the spread beeting company in May 2008, and has been instrumental in raising their profile in the betting industry over the last nine years.

With Glynn due to take up his new post on 22 April, Ladbrokes Chairman Peter Erskine commented:

"Following an international search, we are delighted to have acquired Richard's services after interviewing a number of high Quality candidates. Richard combines entrepreneurial energy with nine years of industry experience. With his successful transformation of Sportin Index into a leading international innovative spread betting business, it also makes Richard really sutied to the task of leading the re-invigaration of Ladbrokes."

Richard Glynn is to take over from Chris Bell who is leaving Ladbrokes after twenty years of service.

Posted on 25/03/2010.

Eleventh year of Cathal Ryan Memorial Sponsership.

Punchestown racecourse have announced Swordlestown Stud and the Ryan family will sponsor the Grade 1 Cathal Ryan Memorial Novice Hurdle on Friday 23 April at the Punchestown Irish National Hunt Festival.

The 2 mile 4 furlong contest worth €85,000 is a fitting tribute to the late Cathal Ryan who was a great supporter of the track and of the National Hunt industry in Ireland.  

Ryan, who sadly passed away following a short illness in December 2007, became involved with sponsorship at Punchestown when Swordlestown Stud first sponsored the 2m Champion Novice Chase at the 1999 Festival. The Swordlestown Cup went on to become one of the most prestigious novice steeplechases on the jump calendar during its ten year tenure.

 As well as co-founding the Ryanair airline, Cathal Ryan also established a successful commercial breeding operation with notable winners such as No Refuge in the National Hunt ranks and Proclamation enjoying Group successes on the flat.  As a national hunt owner Ryan’s most notable success was when Cork All Star won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival.

Commenting on the announcement Cillian Ryan said

Swordlestown is delighted to continue the long association with our neighbours Punchestown. This will be our eleventh year to sponsor a Grade 1 at the Festival and the fact that we can now run a champion novice race in honour of my late father Cathal on Ladies Day is an added bonus”.

Posted on 24/03/2010.

Ayr Racecourse appoints new Clerk of the Course.

AYR Racecourse has appointed Emma Marley as Clerk of the Course and she will assume her duties from early May 2010.

Emma, 30, is a graduate of Warwickshire Agricultural College where she gained a BA (Hons) first class degree and is also a BHA Development Programme Graduate.

Currently Clerk of the Course at Bath for Northern Racing Ltd, Emma has considerable and varied experience in the racing industry and has also worked for Northern Racing in their commercial departments at Chepstow and Hereford.

Prior to this Emma has worked as assistant trainer, racing secretary, work rider and has also trained her own Point-to-Point horses, and therefore has practical experience of the requirements of owners, trainers, and jockeys.  

Emma replaces Hazel Peplinski who has been Acting Clerk of the Course at Scotland's premier track since last August after then Clerk Katherine Self left to take up a post with HM Coastguard.

Posted on 20/03/2010.

Record figures for Totesport at 2010 Cheltenham Festival.

The Cheltenham Festival was hailed a huge success by totepool after turnover soared on three consecutive days and broke the £10million barrier for the meeting.

After a steady start to the Festival, total turnover on Wednesday was 12% up on last year whilst Thursday's was 9.5% up on 2009.
However, the best was saved for last as turnover on the final day of the Festival was up a phenomenal 22% on last year at £3,371,321 compared to £2,761,909 in 2009. This gave a total turnover for the Festival of £10,013,877.

All totepool products performed extremely well at this year's Festival, with totewin beating the official SP in 21 of the 26 races. There was a record toteplacepot pool for both the Thursday and the Friday of the meeting, with the dividend on the final day of £41,288.40 the biggest ever at the Cheltenham Festival and the sixth highest in the bet's history.
The totequadpot also smashed records, with a record pool for the bet on Thursday of £48,797 being surpassed on the Friday with £54,177 being wagered into the pool.

Posted on 28/02/2010.

Paddy Power profits show a drop.

Leading Irish bookmaking firm Paddy Power report a 15% drop in net profits on 2009 figures in comparison with 2008.

The 2008 figure of 79 million euros fell by 11.8 million to 67.2 miillion euros. While operating profit dropped by 12% from 75.7 million euros to 66.7 million euros.

However, on the positive side, Gross Profit increased from 253 million euros to 258 million euros in 2009 - an increase of 2%.

Posted on 12/02/2010.

BHA announces team changes in 2010.

The British Horseracing Authority has announced changes to its Executive team brought about by the retirements of both Tony Goodhew and Jon Ryan during 2010.  

 Tony, who joined the Jockey Club in 1990, will be leaving the Authority in July.  The role of director of Raceday Operations and Regulation, which includes responsibility for Racecourse licensing, standards and inspection, Rules, Stewarding, Starters, Clerks and Judges, the Raceday Disciplinary processes, and the Medical team, will be taken on by Jamie Stier, who joins the Authority having previously been Chief Stipendiary Steward for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. 

Jon will be leaving at the end of April, after more than two years with the Authority. During this time he oversaw the Communications team, including the Racing Promotions Group which subsequently turned into Racing for Change.  Paul Struthers, currently Media Relations Manager, is to take on the role of Head of Communications, and will work alongside Nick Attenborough who was appointed by Racing for Change to look after Consumer PR at the end of last year.

Posted on 11 /02/2010.

New sponser for Great Voltigeur Stakes.

With tourist organisation Welcome To Yorkshire having taken over the main sponsership of York Racecourse's flagship August four day Ebor Meeting, the changes in sponsership keep on ringing, for it has now been announced sportingbet.com are to be the 2010 sponsers of the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes - one of the host of premier races to be held during the four day meeting, and considered by many as the main trial race for the St Leger at Doncaster.

Posted on 08/02/2010.

Ayr seeking full time Clerk of the Course.

Current Ayr Clerk of the Course Hazel Peplinski is due to finish her secondment from Hamilton Park in April 2010, and while everyone agrees she has done an excellent job since taking over on a temporary contract in August 2009, her links to Hamilton, where she was Chief Executive at one time, would seem to rule her out of taking the Ayr job on a full time basis.

Having had on-going problems with the home bend, and with the future of the racing surface at Ayr firmly in mind, the Ayr executive have announced they are prepared to offer a salary of between £45,000 and £48,000 for their new Clerk of the Course. This salary band would interest all but the Clerks at Britain's leading racecourses, and Ayr are hopeful it will attract some high quality applications as they try to fill this important role.

Posted on 26/01/2010.

Sportech positioning themselves for future Tote bid?

Liverpool based Sportech, who have racing interests in addition to the virtual monopoly of the remaining football pools market, have acquired part of the giant American systems provider Scientific Games for a sum which could reach $83 million. The American company produces equipment used by Tote services throughout the world, and the acquisition would put Sportech in a strong position to bid for the UK Tote if the government ever put it back on the market.

Posted on 18/01/2010.

Horse Racing Ireland Issues 2009 Industry Statistics.

2009 saw significant contraction across the key measures in the Irish horse racing industry.

There was a 12% reduction in total prize money, which remains the vital catalyst for economic activity in the industry by driving investment in bloodstock and providing the commercial incentive to put horses into training.  A further major cut, down to €47.7m, has already been announced for 2010, meaning a return to 2002 prize money levels.

Attendances at the 26 racetracks fell by 11% from 1.392m in 2008 to 1.237m in 2009, while on-course betting turnover declined significantly by 21%, with bookmakers (down 27%) faring worse than the Tote (down 13%).  These figures reflect the extremely challenging economic environment faced by racecourses and on-course bookmakers.

Participation in racing also dropped for the first time in many years, with a 4% fall in the total number of runners, a 6% drop in the number of individual horses which ran, a 10% decline in the overall number of owners and, most dramatically, a 28% reduction in the number of new owners.

The most severe decline during 2009 was once again in bloodstock sales at public auction, which fell by 32% to €67.5 million.  This represents a 62% decline compared to the 2007 figure of €176.5m, reflecting an Irish breeding industry now under major threat.

Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), said:

“On the positive side, 2009 was another year of remarkable achievement for Irish horses, trainers, jockeys and breeders under both codes.  For the second successive year, Ireland produced the flat World Champion Racehorse in Sea the Stars.  Three of the top four flat horses in the world in 2009 were trained in Ireland and the top three were all Irish bred.  This level of consistent success showcases our racing and breeding industry at the highest international level.  In no other sport can Ireland claim such a level of elite achievement.  Horse racing and breeding is one of the few industries in which Ireland is rightly recognised as a world leader, due to its indigenous skills base and the tradition of enlightened Government policy.”

Brian Kavanagh continued:

“The recently published Dukes Report highlighted how the racing industry has become a significant employer with 15,500 jobs (excluding the betting industry) and an increasingly vital part of the struggling rural economy.  However, this position is now under severe threat. Staff cutbacks and redundancies have become a stark reality for many businesses within the industry, with an estimated 1,500 job losses to date and more inevitably to result from the further cuts already announced for 2010”.

Brian Kavanagh concluded:

“With so many demands on Government finances, it is essential for the racing industry to become self-financing, as it is in most other countries.  This can be done with a meaningful levy on betting, including all off-shore internet and telephone betting which has wrongly escaped the taxation net up to this point.  In 2002, the Irish betting industry was turning over €1 billion and generating tax for the Exchequer of €68 million.  Seven years later, whilst betting has increased to an estimated €5.5 billion, the tax take has declined to €30 million”.

Posted on 15/01/2010.

Welcome to Yorkshire to sponser whole Ebor Meeting at York.

Using the logical deduction that York Racecourse's four day Ebor Meeting is one of the major tourist attractions to be staged in Yorkshire each year, the body responsible for attracting tourism to the County - Welcome To Yorkshire - have become the first business organisation to actively sponser the whole four day Ebor Meeting.

Posted on 14/01/2010.

Racecourse attendances stand firm in 2009.

 Racecourse attendance figures for 2009, published today by the Racecourse Association Ltd, have revealed that despite a precarious economic climate, British racing has retained its popularity and continued to appeal to the public.

The total attendance for the year of 5,718,729 was slightly up on 2008, and saw racing’s attendance weigh in at over 5.7 million visits for the seventh consecutive year.

Commenting Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the RCA, said:

‘These figures demonstrate an excellent performance from our racecourses in trying times brought about by the current economic climate. They confirm the continuing appeal of British racing as a leisure activity and that the sport can meet people’s ever increasing desire for value.

“The figures would have been even better but for December suffering abandonments during the cold snap, which has continued to make January a very testing time for courses. However, the all-weather tracks have done a magnificent job to keep the show on the road and hopefully things will be back to normal soon to build on last year’s success”.

Posted on 12/01/2010.

Bell to leave Ladbrokes.

Current Ladbroke Chief Executive Chris Bell is to leave the bookmaking firm this coming summer by mutual agreement. Bell, 52, has been with the firm for over twenty years, and served as Managing Director for five years before becoming Chief Executive, a post he has held for the last four years.

Bell was instrumental in organising the de-merger from the Hilton Group, and he has represented the bookmaking industry on the Levy Board Bookmakers Consultative Panel for several years.

It is understood Ladbrokes have already started their search for a replacement Chief Executive, but Bell has not yet disclosed his future intentions.

Posted on 22/12/09.

Further cuts push HRI to make fresh appeal to Irish Government.

Following the 13% (€7.1million) cutback in Government Funding to the horse racing sector announced in the recent Irish Government Budget, Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) today announced a series of cost saving measures and funding reductions for 2010. The measures include cutbacks across all areas of activity, the cessation of funding for racecourse improvements and capital development projects, reduced direct financial support for racecourses, reductions in the cost (but not the level of service) of the integrity function, a 10% overall cut in prize money, pay cuts averaging 6% for HRI staff and lower grant aid for all of the organisations supported by HRI.
HRI's Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh, stated:

"The Board of HRI has had to make significant cutbacks to ensure Irish racing operates to a balanced budget for 2010. Following the third significant cut to the organisation’s funding in the last fourteen months, HRI estimates that up to 1,500 jobs have been lost in the racing and breeding industry in the last eighteen months and regrettably the measures being announced today will lead to further job losses.”

The key features of the HRI budget 2010 are as follows:-

1.      Racecourse Capital Developments
HRI will not be in a position to provide funding towards any new racecourse capital projects until the issues surrounding the long-term security of funding are addressed.  HRI has previously indicated its support in principle for the plan to re-locate Tramore Racecourse to a new site, generating significant local investment and employment, but regrettably no funding will be available for this project in 2010. Additionally, HRI spent €3 million in grant aid towards the improvement of facilities at racecourses throughout the country in 2009, but again no funds will be available for further investment in this important area next year. 

2.      Prize Money
Total prize money will be reduced by €5.4 million or 10.2% to €47.7 million in 2010. This follows on from a €7.3 million decline in 2009, which means that in two years prize money will have fallen by 21% from its 2008 peak of €60.4 million and will now be reverting to 2002 levels. HRI will also apply a reduction in the administration fees (7%) and prize money (3%) for Point-to-Points.
For 2010, the prize money reductions will be applied to Grade 1 races in the National Hunt sphere (novice races down by €10k and open races by €5k) and to Black Type races on the Flat: the Irish Derby and Champion Stakes will be down by €250k each, the Oaks and both Guineas by €75k, other Group 1 and Group 2 races by €15k, Group 3 races for 2yos/3yos only by €12k and for older horses by €2k, and Listed races for 2yos by €2.5k. There will be no adjustment to the base values in all other race categories and the absolute minimum value will remain at its current level of €7000.  The number of fixtures to be run in 2010 remains unchanged at 345.
The cost of running will be increased from 0.9% (0.7%/0.2% to enter/declare) to 1.0% (0.8%/0.2%) of the race prize fund to compensate for an anticipated reduction in entry levels, but the overall percentage of prize money to be contributed by owners is still forecast to fall to a new low of 25%. All other HRI charges on owners will be frozen for the third consecutive year.

3.      Pay Cuts
Pay cuts averaging 6% will be applied to staff employed by HRI, Tote Ireland, HRI Racecourses Ltd and Irish Thoroughbred Marketing. The cuts will be made on a tiered basis, ranging from no drop at the lower end of the scale up to 12% on the highest levels of salary. Additionally, central administration overheads will be reduced by 19%.

4.      Racecourse Support Schemes
HRI will also reduce by 12% overall its direct financial support for a number of racecourse support schemes (these include the winter racing grant, sponsorship incentive scheme and big screen support).

5.      Grants to Industry Bodies
All grants paid directly by HRI to industry bodies such as Irish Thoroughbred Marketing,  RACE, the Irish Equine Centre, the Blue Cross, the Order of Malta, the Irish Farriery School and the Irish Horse Welfare Trust will be cut by 6% compared to their 2009 levels.

6.      Integrity Costs
Savings of 11% are being sought from the Turf Club in relation to the integrity costs, with the savings to be achieved from greater efficiencies rather than reduced level of activity.

HRI Chairman, Denis Brosnan added

“Horse racing and breeding is a genuine Irish success story.  It is one of the few activities in which Ireland is a world leader.  It provides 15,500 jobs in rural Ireland, whilst generating significant exports and inward investment.  In 2009 three of the top four horses in the world were trained in Ireland and for the nineteenth consecutive year, an Irish based stallion will be the leading sire in Europe.” Mr Brosnan continued,

“However, all of this is in danger now due to the absence of long term security of funding for the industry.  There are clear signs that, with the combination of the series of budget cuts and the removal of the stallion tax exemption, we are seeing horses and investment moving to other countries, particularly France, with a consequent loss of jobs. These countries have secure funding mechanisms, directly linked to their betting industry.  In 2002, the Irish betting industry turned over €1 billion and generated €68 million in duty for the State. Today, the same Irish betting industry turns over €5.5 billion but only generates €30 million in duty.  The effect of this anomaly is that the horse racing industry is now dependent on direct State funding drawn from the same pool as health, education and social welfare. This is an unnecessary and unsustainable position.”

Denis Brosnan concluded

“HRI’s request to Government is simple.  Put the funding structure of our industry on a secure basis and we will continue to give you a world class industry with thousands of rural jobs.  Fail to do that and one of the few genuine Irish success stories of recent years will disintegrate before our eyes.”

Posted on 10/12/09.

New Chairman for Musselburgh racecourse.

Group Captain John Prideaux has been appointed Chairman of Musselburgh Racecourse following the departure of previous chairman, Councillor John Caldwell.

Musselburgh Racecourse is run by the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee (MJRC) which is a partnership between the Lothian Racing Syndicate Ltd and East Lothian Council.

Councillor Caldwell held both posts of chairman of the racecourse and convener of the MJRC but these roles have now been separated. The four local authority councillors who sit on the MJRC will now decide which of them is to be convener of the MJRC.

Group Captain Prideaux, who is chairman of the Lothian Racing Syndicate Ltd and sits on the MJRC, has lengthy experience as a racecourse steward at Musselburgh, Perth and Hamilton racecourses. He has also had horses in training with top National Hunt trainer Howard Johnson for many years, and he manages a number of horses on behalf of other owners which are trained by Henry Daly, Paul Webber, Emma Lavelle and Ferdy Murphy.

Posted on 09/12/09.

Betfred sponser Talk Sport breakfast show.

As part of their strategy to increase their market profile, bookmakers Betfred have entered into a sponsership agreement with radio station Talk Sport. The firm will henceforward sponser the brakfast show on the independant broadcaster, and as part of the deal, anti post market moves for each day based on Betfred prices will be broadcast on the show.

Posted on 24/11/09.

Leopardstown announce Christmas Meeting sponsers.

In two separate announcements, Leopardstown racecourse officials have confirmed two sponsership deals for the prestigious Christmas Meeting at the Dublin track.

Fuel company Bord Na Mona are to sponser the 26 December St Stephens Day Meeting, and in addition, they will sponser five of the individual races on the card, including the Grade 1 Novice Chase and the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle.

For the fourth year in a row, Property Consultants Knight Frank Ireland have also confirmed they will once again sponser the Grade 1 Knight Frank Novice Chase during the Christmas Meeting.

Posted on 01\11\09.

RCA Blue LogoBoost to Racecourse Badge Scheme for 2010.

Members of the Racecourse Badge Schemes for Owners, Breeders and Permit Trainers will each be able to gain free entry to 1,303 race fixtures in 2010.  This increase of number of fixtures has come about because the majority of racecourses have raised the number of days included in the scheme and 30 courses offer all fixtures.

Members of the schemes are entitled to one complimentary badge on days when they don’t have a runner.  For Breeders, a horse they have bred must be running for them to qualify for the complimentary badge.

RCA Chairman, Ian Barlow said,

“I am delighted that the badge scheme is going from strength to strength with generous support from racecourses covering most fixtures.  Owners, breeders and permit trainers are vital to our sport and the racecourses’ dedication to this scheme, together with the continuing development of owners and trainers facilities, demonstrates recognition and appreciation of their support”.

Michael Harris Chief Executive of the ROA said:

“The Racecourse Badge Scheme for Owners is a great example of how racing constituents can work together to their mutual advantage. This is particularly important in the current economic climate. Next year the scheme will allow all qualifying owners free access to over 1,300 fixtures. We hope the benefits for owners will be shared by the participating racecourses, because, when owners go racing, they tend to spend more money in the bars and restaurants than the average racegoer.  Also, most owners like to have a bet.  I like to think the financial benefit the courses receive from this spend to some extent helps to pay them back for their generosity with this scheme. Our sincere thanks to all of these racecourses and to the RCA for the help and support they have given the ROA with this important and valuable benefit for our members.”

Posted on 23\10\09.

Betfair make wagering agreement with Breeders Cup organisers.

Breeders’ Cup Limited today announced simulcasting and licensing agreements with Betfair Group Limited which will permit common-pool wagering on the 2009 Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be held at Santa Anita Racetrack in Los Angeles, California, on November 6 and 7.

The landmark agreement marks the first time Betfair will co-mingle into the Breeders’ Cup pools. This will provide Betfair’s worldwide customer base of over 2.5m with access to common-pool betting on the Championships. 

“Our agreement with Betfair is an important milestone in our ongoing effort to grow the international simulcast wagering market for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships,” said Breeders’ Cup president and CEO, Greg Avioli.

“As more and more international horses participate in our championships, interest levels and wagering handle from around the world continue to increase, allowing us to maintain the highest possible purse levels for the event.”

The licensing agreement will allow Betfair to live video stream the Breeders’ Cup races via its website and to promote exchange wagering for their international customers. The grant of license rights will permit Betfair to use the Breeders’ Cup marks and advertising in the marketing of the Championships.

The agreement will see the Breeders’ Cup receive agreed revenues from Betfair’s tote and exchange betting on the Championships.

Betfair and Breeders’ Cup already have a strong partnership via Betfair’s TVG, the leading interactive horseracing network in the US purchased by Betfair in January 2009. TVG is an official media partner of the Breeders’ Cup and the sponsor of the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Betfair’s Director of Horseracing Stephen Burn commented:

“We are delighted to provide our customers with the ability to directly access the tote pools to America’s premier racing event.” Burn added,

“Our partnership with the Breeders’ Cup is the beginning of what we intend to be a mutually beneficial partnership with US racing.”

International handle bet directly into the Breeders’ Cup pools on the 2008 Breeders’ Cup World Championships was $17.6 million, up 16% from 2007 and 34% from 2006. The Breeders’ Cup has been a leader in the international efforts to expand global racing and promote common pool wagering.

The 25th Breeders’ Cup World Championships last year at Santa Anita attracted a record 31 starters from outside the U.S. The Breeders’ Cup is telecast in 140 countries worldwide.

The 26th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the world’s richest sporting event with over $25 million in purses, will be hosted by the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA on November 6-7.

Posted on 22\10\09.

Toshiba to continue Leopardstown sponsership.

It was confirmed on Thursday 22 October, Toshiba Ireland are to continue their sponsership of the Irish Champion Hurdle, scheduled to take place at Leopardstown on 24 January 2010.

Toshiba took over sponsership of the Grade 1 race in 2009 when AIG were forced to withdraw due to financial constraints. However, Toshiba are renowned for being a hard headed companywhen it comes to financial matters, so their continued sponsership would suggest the number crunchers have found some positives from their first year as the incumbent sponser of the Leopardstown premier national hunt race.

Posted on 13\10\09.

Betfair offer customers USA Totepools Gateway.

BETFAIR Games Limited (Betfair) today announce that it has reached an agreement with Scientific Games Racing LLC (SGR), a division of Scientific Games Corporation (Nasdaq: SGMS), that SGR will provide them with services and technologies to allow all Betfair account holders to view race and pool data and wager into North American pari-mutuel tote pools, with approval of relevant regulatory authorities. This agreement could also enable bets into tote pools of European and other international racetracks.
SGR will provide access and connectivity through its Essen Data Center and International Gateway in Germany.

Primary services will include a central wagering system and related pari-mutuel networks.  Additional services may include pools rights contracting and host track settlement services through its affiliate companies, Scientific Games B.V. Holland or Autotote Enterprises Inc., located in Connecticut, USA.  

Brooks Pierce, President of Scientific Games Racing, stated: “Over the past several years, we have positioned our Essen Data Center as the foremost choice for international commingling, by establishing a flexible platform through which our customers worldwide can securely distribute their racing product and offer more options to their bettors.”  
Mr Pierce added:  “We are particularly happy to welcome Betfair to the EDC’s growing list of customers and

expect that this will strengthen and expand the productive relationship we began with its subsidiary, TVG, a number of years ago.”

Betfair’s Head of Horse Racing Development, Steven Johnson, commented: "Following the acquisition of TVG, Betfair has been looking to enhance its US racing product offering.  We are delighted to link up with Scientific Games, which will give our customers access to the host track pools of a number of North American racetracks, bringing overseas money into the pools and giving a new revenue stream to the US racetracks. 
“We will start offering this service this month, ahead of the Breeders’ Cup.”

Mr Johnson went on to add:  “This deal will now enable Betfair customers to bet into tote pools, not only in the US, but in the UK, Ireland, Australia and South Africa as well, with hopefully more jurisdictions to follow.”

Posted on 09\10\09.

Ladbrokes seeking extra finance through 'rights issue'.

Having suffered what are described as 'several setbacks', Ladbrokes are reported to be seeking extra finance through a planned £275 million Rights Issue. Discussing this particular economic move, Ladbrokes spokesperson Ciaran O’brien said,

“The financial climate has somewhat changed over the past 18 months or so, and we have gone from an economy where bank lending at low interest rates was very easy to
access to a period of constrained bank lending - and where it is available it is at higher rates.  For this reason the market's appetite for debt is reduced - and with the economic outlook still uncertain it makes sense for companies to adopt a more prudent approach to debt and many are doing so.   Ladbrokes debt is spread over the next four years - a profile that most companies would be very happy with.  However, given William Hill refinanced in February it added an extra driver to reduce our debt.  We were looking at doing this organically but the current economic uncertainty (not helped by
a period of tough results), convinced us it was prudent to act now and reduce our debt.  The offer has been well received by shareholders to date.”

Posted on 30\09\09.

British Racing worth billions to the British economy.

In a major new economic impact study, Racing has retained its position as the second biggest sport in Britain after football, including revenue generation and attendance.

British Horseracing generated expenditure of £3.4bn in 2008, up from £2.86bn in 2005.  Once capital expenditure is added this figure rises to more than £3.7bn.

The study, which is the second of its type produced for British Horseracing by the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, reiterates the value of horseracing to the British economy. The British Horseracing business contributed at least £325m in tax in 2008, taking the five year tax total to over £1.5bn.  British Racing has 18,600 full time equivalent jobs within its core industry, a vast number of them within the rural economy.

According to the report, there are an estimated 52,000 full time equivalent jobs in the onshore betting industry which, given the considerable proportion of gross win provided by Racing (to the betting industry) indicates that a significant proportion of these jobs are supported by the sport.

Taking into account secondary expenditure generated by the Racing industry in the economy, over 100,000 full time equivalent jobs were supported, directly or indirectly, by British Horseracing.

Other key findings of the wide-ranging study, which has sections on the sport’s varied participants and customers, as well as comparisons with the leisure market and international competitors, include:

 

In terms of Racing’s standing within the competitive sports market in Britain:

 

The Study also analysed betting turnover and returns to racing of the major racing nations.

Britain was second only to Japan in the total amount bet on racing, with £12.1bn wagered in Britain compared to just under £14bn wagered in Japan.  However, the return to racing in Japan was £741m (5.3% of the amount wagered) against just £118m in Britain (1%). Both the USA and France see 8% of money wagered returned to racing (£589m and £531m respectively).

The study is available to be downloaded for free at britishhorseracing.com.

Nic Coward, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said: “Deloitte’s study reiterates that British Horseracing, as the second biggest sporting activity in Britain, is a significant contributor to the leisure, agricultural and rural economies in Britain.

“It also highlights the disparity regarding the returns to the sport from betting compared to other major racing nations.  If further demonstration of our broken system was needed, we have the second highest betting turnover of the major racing nations yet the lowest return by far from the betting industry to our sport. 

“British Racing’s economic impact was over £3.7bn last year and over five years has generated over £1.5bn in tax revenue for Government. Our sport is of enormous value to Britain, and whilst we face challenges, there are opportunities that racing must take which can ensure our standing and importance within Britain can be maintained.”

Alan Switzer, Director in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “Like all sports, Racing faces a significant challenge as a result of the economic downturn.  While sport is certainly not immune from its effects we have seen an encouraging resilience across many sports. 

“One impact of this has been a ‘flight to quality’ with consumers increasingly focusing on the country’s, and respective sports, top events.  Racing has the advantage that it has a number of such events, with attendances at the top festivals in 2009 generally holding up well.  A key challenge for Racing will be to find ways of increasing the profile of the next tier of fixtures.

“Many of the metrics in this report are likely to experience declines in 2009, but we are confident the sport has the ability to bounce back once economic conditions improve.”

Posted on 29\09\09.

Great Leighs deal near completion.

Deloitte spokesperson Carlton Siddal has confirmed the respective lawyers have nearly completed their examination of the take-over agreement which will allow Great Leighs racecourse to come out of administration, and to start trading under new ownership.

Siddal indicated the withdrawal from administration should be completed by the end of next week, but he understands it could be fifteen months before racing will return to the former Essex Showground.

Posted on 28\09\09.

Kavanagh re-appointed as Chief Executive.

Brian Kavanagh, who has been Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland since 2001, was re-appointed to his position following a challenge and vote at the HRI AGM on Friday 25 September.

With the Irish Government responsible for a budget cut of 17% which will be imposed on HRI for the 2010 season, it was essential any doubts over leadership were eradicated, and Friday's vote should give Kavanagh the authority to carry through a raft of austerity measures aimed at securing the future of horseracing in Ireland.

Posted on 25\09\09.

Mayfair Group close to formal Alphameric bid.

The Mayfair Investment Group, controlled by Bahama based businessman Joe Louis, are within a whisker of obtaining controlling interest in Turf TV owner Alphameric.

It has been common knowledge Alphameric are in need of a cash injection to complete upgrading of their betting shop services, and while one or two other suitors have been on the horizon this year, it would appear the Mayfair Group are now close to taking control of Alphameric and its racing services.

Posted on 24\09\09.

Levy Board maintain contribution to 2010 budget.

The impending movement of the on-line operations of bookmakers William Hill and Ladbrokes is likely to cause a shortfall of £4 million in levy contributions for the next calendar year, but despite this situation, at their meeting on Wednesday 23 September, the Levy Board have decided to maintain their original £57 million contribution to racing during 2010.

The Board believe they can still balance their books for the next twelve months, and maintaining their original contribution is expected to send a positive message to the whole racing industry at a time when good news is in short supply.

In a separate move, the Board also approved a £200,000 sum to the BHA to be used for their Racing Development programme.

Posted on 21\09\09.

Wiley takes advantage of the recession.

Former Sage Software supremo Graham Wiley admitted in an interview on Sunday 20 September, he had taken advantage of the current recession to acquire extra horses for his large national hunt string at greatly reduced prices. The north east based businessman confirmed he now has one hundred horses in training with J Howard Johnson in County Durham, seventy of which are novices, and this figure is actually up on his total ownership during 2008.

Horse Racing Ireland to target British visitors.

In a survey just completed in conjunction with the Irish Tourist Board, HRI have identified there are seventeen thousand visitors who come to Ireland just to attend horse racing, and these people spend around thirty five million euros in a calendar year. The research further identifies the fact 60% of these visitors come from Britain, with the next best origin being 14% from the United States.

With these concrete figures to hand, and armed with the knowledge that during these troubled economic times Irish racing needs the cash injection provided by greater numbers of racing attendees, HRI have decided they will create a marketing campaign which offers the kind of incentives required to increase the number of British visitors attending Irish race meetings.

Posted on 15\09\09.

Clarke to leave Irish National Stud.

John Clarke, the current chief executive of the Irish National Stud, is to end his twenty seven year association with the bloodstock organisation. It is understood no leaving date has been set, as Clarke will stay on until a suitable replacement can be found, but it has been no secret Clarke has a desire to set up as an independant bloodstock advisor, and with his wealth of experience, he will almost certainly be in great demand.

Posted on 10\09\09.

Northern Racing secure long term deal with SIS.

Northern Racing have announced the conclusion of negotiations over a long term deal with racecourse broadcaster SIS to provide coverage at a combined package of eight of their nine racecourses. The undisclosed deal will run until 2017, and ensures betting shop coverage of racing at the eight Northern Racing venues.

The outstanding venue, Sedgefield, already had an existing deal with SIS, and is not included in the new package deal.

Racing to fight potential drinks sponsership ban.

A confederation of leading racing firms and organisations have joined the BHA's criticism of the proposed ban on drinks firms sponsering sports events in the United Kingdom. This is a natural choice due to the amount of sponsership provided to the racing industry by drinks companies, particularly as it would be virtually impossible to find sufficient replacement sponsership during the current negative economic times.

However, at Racingsight we feel there is another principle at stake - individual rights and self determination!

For years, the individuals and companies in this country have had their rights eroded by a faceless group of so called 'politically correct quangos', and we feel it is time to call time on ther meddling into our affairs. For these groups, and their shadowy members, are not representative of the majority of the population, and the last time we looked at our constitution, we were still a democracy.

So we urge the whole of the racing industry to get behind the campaign to stop the politically correct getting there way. For if we do not stop them over this issue, how long will it be before they decree horse racing as a barbaric sport, and press for its demize.

Posted on 09\09\09.

New consortium to take over at Great Leighs.

Speaking on behalf of Administrators Deloitte, spokesperson Carlton Siddall today welcomed and then gave good wishes to a consortium led by well known racehorse owner Bill Gredley and Essex businessman Terry Chambers, and he confirmed the consortium are to take over the operating company of Great Leighs racecourse on 29 September 2009.

Great Leighs has not staged racing since 16 January of this year, and it is no secret the new consortium have two importan initial goals - They must first ensure the racecourse comes up to the standards demanded by the British Horseracing Authority, (BHA), and secondly, they need to re-establish positive links with the BHA to ensure they can obtain a license to race in 2011, and it is suspected Mr Gredley's participation will be most helpful in this particular requirement.

Posted on 08\09\09.

Great Leighs expected to come out of Administration.

In a statement issued on the afternoon of 07 September, Deloitte, the administrators of the former Great Leighs Racecourse, have indicated they have reached a deal which will allow the former owners of the racing venue, Essex Showground Company Ltd, to come out of the Administration process they first entered on 19 January of this year.

However, even if the company start operations within the next few weeks, due to the allocation of fixtures for 2010 having already taken place, it seems almost certain racing will not return to the Essex course until 2011 at the earliest.

Posted on 03\09\09.

Racing UK hit target ahead of schedule.

Thanks to the loyalty of their previous subscribers, plus a good contract from the Green King organisation, Racing Uk have achieved their subscription target ahead of schedule.

It is understood, the satellite provider of racing coverage has attained the levels of subscribers it enjoyed when partnered with the now defunct Setanta, and a spokesperson for Racing Uk indicated the broadcaster were now well placed to expand once the general economic situation inproves.

Posted on 27\08\09.

Successful punters dent Paddy Power profits.

Announcing the figures for the first six months of this year, Paddy Power acknowledged a drop in profits from 41.5 million euros to 33.5 million euros. The firm put this 24% drop in profits down to punters getting the better of betting opportunities in the first half of 2009.

However, the news did not stop Paddy Power from opening their fifteenth UK based shop in the China Town District of London on the same day as they announced their fall in profits, and the firm seem comfortable their long term strategy will overcome this apparent 'blip' in their normal trading figures.

Posted on 25\08\09.

Chelmsford Council allay fears about Great Leighs redevelopment.

Rumours had recently been circulating concerning the potential redevelopment of Great Leighs racecourse into a housing and office property development, but in a firm statement, Chelmsford Council have stated catagorically, they will not allow any 'change of use' application put before their planning department during the foreseeable future.

This statement will be important to any potential owner for the currently inactive racecourse, and it could lay the foundation for positive bids to re-activate the facility once the present economic down-turn has been replaced by a buoyant economy.

Posted on 24\08\09.

Betfair considering floatation?

Betfair, the world's largest betting exchange, have undertaken several worldwide acquisitions over the past eighteen months, including the recent purchase of the TVG organisation in the United States, and according to this weekend's Sunday Telegraph, Betfair are now discussing with several banks the possibility of raising £1.5 billion by undertaking the largest stock market floatation since the start of the current economic recession.

Although Betfair representatives remain tight-lipped on the rumour, it is understood moves are afoot to raise the capital to underpin an unprecedented global expansion into what is perceived by the financial institutions as a relatively low risk but very lucrative potential worldwide market.

Posted on 18\08\09.

Deauville yearling sale mirrors worldwide trend.

In the world of racehorse sales, it seems the current worldwide recession is irrelevant, for on top of increases in Britain at the Doncaster Bloodstock Sale, and in America at the recent Saratoga Sale, the four day Aqana Sale at Deauville has also shown positive returns on previous years. In fact, the Deauville Sale displayed record turn-over of 41,456,500 euros, while average sale price of 114,788 euros was also a record.

Based on the current market trends, the expected drop off in racehorse sales is not materializing, and that may be an indicator racehorse owners, many of whom are also leading businessman, believe the current worldwide economic down-turn will soon be at an end.

Posted on 15\08\09.

Alphameric rumours boost share price.

Alphameric, the majority owners of Turf TV, are rumoured to be the subjects of a potential take-over, and as a result their shares have increased by 5.75 pence to 32.75 pence in the last two days.

Posted on 06\08\09.

Doncaster sale dispells doon and gloom merchants.

Despite the general economic down-turn, the two day Doncaster Bloodstock Sale has just ended with a very pleasing positive outcome for the sales agent.

Two hundred and eighty two horses were sold, a completion rate of 73%, and the total revenue produced came to £2,183,200 - which represents an average sale price of £7,742 - and these figures represent a 3% increase on the corresponding figures from the 2008 sale.

Posted on 05\08\09.

Betfair in superb financial position.

With today's posting of Betfair's annual figures for the 2008 2009 financial year it is clear to see the world's leading betting exchange is in a very healthy position. The reported total revenue passing through the business in the last financial year was £303 million, an increase of 27% on the previous financial year. Despite considerable investment the company's ebitda stood at £72 million, and through its profit and cash generation, Betfair have a cash reserve of £133 million and no debt.

The expansion of its foreign interests has also seen the percentage of foreign revenue generation increase from 44% to 49% as a percentage of total revenues, and this means Betfair is now less subject to the down-turn in the British and Irish gambling markets.

Sportech targeting more bookmakers.

Sportech, the banner company which amalgamated Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters Pools, has already established a relationship with leading Bookmakers Ladbrokes to supply football related betting opportunities throughout its over two thousand retail outlets. But the company is now understood to be in negotiations with several other firms to supply the same information to their retail outlets. With the current economic squeeze still soundly hitting the pocket of the man in the street, any move to football related gambling will obviously have an effect on the amount of betting business being conducted in the horse racing sector, and this could see the under pressure Horseracing Levy scheme lose even more funds in the future.

Racing UK to take subscriptions again.

Now a stand alone broadcaster, Racing UK are to start taking subscriptions from the paying public on 16 August. The monthly subscription will be £20, but £9.99 of that cost will enable customers to have access to Racing UK's extensive on-line facilities.

Posted on 04\08\09.

New Levy Board Chairman to be outsider.

Without actually disclosing the name of the potential new Chairman of the Levy Board, a spokesperson for the organisation yesterday indicated the likely replacement for the current incumbent Rob Hughes will come from a background not connected with the gaming or racing industries.

Hughes is due to relinquish his position on 01 September, so it is certain his replacement has already been chosen, and no doubt an appropriate 'leak' will be made in due course.

Hills offshore move expected today.

If the financial grapevine is to be believed, bookmaking firm William Hill will today announce they are to move their on-line sports book operation to Gibraltar. The firm already have their on-line Casino operation based on the 'Rock' and the offshore consolidation process is not particularly a trade secret.

However, if as expected, Ladbrokes make the same decision within the next few days, the removal of the on-line Sports Book operations of the two leading bookmakers out of British tax jurisdiction could have major consequences for the Horseracing Levy Board, not to mention the British Governments tax coffers.

Open Tote software spells financial benefits for bookmakers.

Originally founded by Ben Pinnick as a consultancy firm to the bookmaking trade, the Farnborough based firm of i-neda have created a new software patch called 'Open Tote', and this now enables the various Tote software programmes around the world to talk to each other.

The significance of this development has not been lost on the bookmaking firms, and Totesport have already used the software to make alliances with other Tote programmes throughout the world. It is expected the majority of firms will eventually incorporate the programme into their on-line operations, as it represents another way to increase their revenue streams - which is good news for the bookmaking firms, and for i-neda.

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Posted on 31\07\09.

Arena results heavily dependant on Leger Meeting.

Racecourse owners Arena Leisuree are thought to be hoping for a successful Doncaster St Leger Meeting if they are to get anywhere near their revenue and profit targets for the current year. The Leger Meeting is certainly the most important single item in Arena's racing calendar, and the company will be hoping the weather will be kind in September, and that owners enter their better horses so as to attract sufficient numbers of paying customers to the vital four day meeting.

Posted on 23\07\09.

Arena Leisure double payment from SIS.

In a settlement which has set the trend for future television coverage deals, Arena Leisure have concluded a five year deal with SIS for racing coveragee from their seven tracks which sees their remuneration virtually double from 55 million to 106 million pounds. As part of the package, Arena obtain a pro-forma payment of 12.5 million pounds immediately, and further pro-forma payments of an additional £12.5 and £7 million in 2010.

SIS, who provide betting shop coverage on the meetings also covered by satellite channel At The Races, excluding Ascot, are probably keen to conclude the deal as they are facing 12 blank days of coverage in 2010, and this is a trend they will wish to nip in the bud.

As Arena control the all weather tracks with their multiple days of racing, SIS will consider this five year agreement as a way to ensure they can negotiate from a strong position when they next talk to the bookmaking firms about supplying coverage of live racing to the betting shops.

Posted on 22\07\09.

Playtec warning causes run on shares.

William Hill's on-line service partner Playtec yesterday issued a warning their earnings for the year are likely to be below initial estimates, and the news immediately caused a run on Playtec shares, which started Tuesday morning at 422.25 pence, but ended the day on 343.0 pence.

More worryingly for William Hill, the news about their on-line partner led to a fall in their own share price from 202.25 pence to 191.75 pence, and this prompted the bookmaking organisation to issue a statement indicating they were extremely happy with the progress of their on-line operations, and they hoped to confirm their progress when they issue their own financial statement on 04 August.

Posted on 21\07\09.

Ulster bookmakers pressing for Sunday opening.

With many British betting shops already opening their doors for Sunday racing, the owners of betting shops in Ulster are making a determined bid to persuade the Northern Ireland Executive to introduce legislation to allow Sunday opening of betting shops in the province.

Representatives of the Ulster bookmaking shops point out the precedent has already been established in other parts of the UK. Furthermore, on-line betting is now a 24 - 7 business, and the Ulster shops are not making best use of their major capital asset, i.e. their shops, during a period of economic downturn, and this is a practise which must be reversed if they are to survive and provide future services to the people of Ulster.

Posted on 17\07\09.

Whetherbys Bank post healthy results.

While most other banks are struggling in the teeth of the current cold worldwide economic winds, racing industry bank Whetherbys have posted a 21% increase in profits to £3.9 million during the last financial year.

Having lifted bank deposits from £194 million to £217 million during the year, Whetherbys wer able to buck the common economic trend, and increased there lending portfolio from £74 million to £86 million.

Posted on 15\07\09.

Levy Board Chairman wants early discussions.

Announcing Levy contributions from the leading bookmaking firms had fallen from £116.5 million in 2007 - 2008, to £92 million in 2008 - 2009, (a fall of 20.9%), Levy Board Chairman Rob Hughes yesterday warned a further fall of £25 million could occur if the leading british bookmakers take their on-line and telephone operations offshore in the coming year.

Rather than waiting for the Government to react to this potential disaster with legislation in a year were they may have an election on their mind, Hughes believes the interested parties in racing should be proactive, and should hold urgent talks with the bookmakers and sort out some sort of binding future contribution scheme which will allow for the 'offshore drift' of bookmaking activity while protecting the future financing of british racing.

Overseas links boost Totesport revenue stream.

Totesport have confirmed their establishment of links with overseas centralised betting has provided a major boost to the business's overseas revenue streams. In 2008 revenue coming from non-UK sources increased from £46.5 million to £61.6 million - an increase of 32%.

Totesport are confident this trend will increase in future years, and they believe it will make them a very attractive proposition should the UK government eventually decide to offer them for sale to the private sector.

Racing UK maintain their rates again.

For the fifth year in a row, Racing UK are to maintain their subscription rate to UK Pubs and Clubs. Currently supplying a television service to over two thousand such venues, the now independant broadcaster is hoping their decision, combined with Sky's decision to increase the ATR subscription rate by 50% to the same venues from 01 September, should enable Racing UK to expand their margins in this particular viewer sector.

Posted on 14\07\09.

Page bookmakers increase their London interests.

Having quite recently closed their on-line operation, Durham based bookmaking company Page Bookmakers have now acquired two London based retail outlets. This takes the number of their shops to 59, and puts the company at the number ten spot in terms of British based bookmakers.

Perhaps of more interest, while most other firms are concentrating on on-line expansion, Page seem to have decided on a policy of betting shop expansion.

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Posted on 26\06\09.

Dixon warns of offshore melt-down.

Racehorse Owners Association supremo Paul Dixon yesterday warned the members of the association of a potential melt-down in Levy revenues if the major bookmakers take their on-line and telephone operations offshore. Dixon believes William Hill are about to take this step, and this will inevitably lead to Coral and Ladbrokes following suit.

In his address, Dixon estimated the loss in Levy revenue to British racing could eventually top thirty million pounds, while the UK government could lose up to £45 million in tax receipts. Without spelling out a strategy, Dixon did suggest the government should prepare a contingency plan to safeguard both tax and racing revenues.

Posted on 24\06\09.

BBC Saturday racing figures provide boost to sponssers.

The sponsers of Saturday's Royal Ascot meeting must be very happy with the news the BBC television coverage attracted 2.1 million viewers, an increase of approximately 800,000 on the corresponding coverage in 2008.

This positive television viewing trend should also help Ascot to sell advance sponsership of the Saturday races in 2010, a situation which can only be described as a 'win win' situation for both sponsers and Ascot racecourse in the coming year.

Totesport developments could give major boost to racecourses.

In a joint agreement with forty two of the sixty operating British racecourses, Totesport have agreed to give the racecourses a share of their profits, including for the first time, profits obtained from their on -line gambling operations. This potential boost in revenue could be a beneficial 'windfall' to many of the racecourses who are currently being buffeted by harsh economic winds.

In another development, Totesport are hoping to increase the revenue flowing into the relatively new Super Seven bet by opening the bet to the smaller punters. To do this, Totesport intend to offer fractional stake betting, whereby smaller punters can use 5 pence or ten pence stakes in the creation of a multiple selection plan on the bet, (a bit like the old 'lit-plans' on the football pools).

Although this move may be popular with the smaller punter, it has already obtained criticism from the larger syndicate gamblers, who feel it will dilute the winning prize money. But Totesport are adamant it will not affect the ease with which the bet can be won, and anyway, the extra funding could actually increase the amount won by successful punters.

Paddy Power open their first Northe of England shop.

Paddy Power bookmakers have had retail outlets in the South East of England and areas of Scotland for some time, but as part of their on-going expansion programme in the uK, the firm have opened their first betting shop in the North of England. Situated on Stockport Road in Levenshulme, the new premises will soon be followed by another Manchester based shop at Citytown Piccadilly.

Interestingly, the Levenshulme shop is located close to an area of luxury housing development, while Piccadilly is a business district, and these locations may give a clue as to the market ing targets of the Paddy Power organisation.

The leading Irish Bookmaker is understood to have another one hundred and fifty locations pencilled in for the North and Midlands regions of England, and if they complete their expansion programme, they will become a major player in Britain in addition to their Irish and Australian interests.

Racing UK to stand alone.

With yesterday's expected news the satellite broadcaster Setanta had gone into administration, Racing UK activated their contingency 'Stand Alone Plan'.

With immediate effect, the monthly subscription to the Racing UK television channel will revert to the original £20 per month - £9.99 of which covers access to their on-line operations. For the time being they will continue to broadcast on Sky channel 432, but officials have confirmed they have plans in hand to change this listing if it becomes necessary.

Posted on 21\06\09.

Bookmakers put themselves in front on the final day of Royal Ascot.

After the first two days of this year's five day Royal Ascot Meeting, it looked like the bookmaking firms were in for a punishing few days, but after results in the last three days went mainly in their favour, all the firms are now reporting they came out of Ascot ahead of the punters. Although not good news for the poor punters, this outcome will certainly help to ease the minds of shareholders of the leading bookmaking companies.

Posted on 16\06\09.

Chairman confirms rights issue will not affect jobs.

Confirming the Gala Coral Group are to go to the market to raise two hundred million pounds with a new rights issue, the Group Chairman Neil Goulden confirmed,

"We need the cash injection to ensure we have the fluidity to get through the current recession, but as the Group is otherwise sound, we see no reason why we should have to reduce manning levels at our 1,600 retail outlets. In fact, if the general economy picks up next year, we may need to increase our staffing levels".

Posted on 15\06\09.

Coral expecting half billion pound bonanza.

Commenting on behalf of bookmakers Coral, spokesperson Simon Clare today confirmed the leading bookmaking firm are expecting the betting market on the five days of Royal Ascot to top the £500 million figure. The firm believe the economic recession will have little affect on the gambling market surrounding the Royal Meeting, and if this proves to be true, a series of big losing favourites could see the leading firms pocket a very large income over the next five days.

Setanta re-open subscriptions.

Although giving absolutely nothing away with regard to their discussions with interested parties, the beleaguered broadcaster Setanta have from today re-opened public subscription to their satellite service.

This move would be unusual for a company expecting to go into administration later in the week, and it has prompted many analysts to assume some kind of rescue package has been arranged.

Posted on 12\06\09.

Setanta in White Knight talks.

If reports on the BBC are to be believed, the Irish based troubled sports satellite broadcaster Setanta are today in talks with a potential 'White Knight' who could give them the kind of financial investment they desperately need to stave off going into administration.

The identity of the interested party is not being disclosed, but it is understood the next seventy two hours are crucial to any survival plan, as Setanta are due to make a thirty million pound payment to the Premier League next week, and if they fail to fulfill this arrangement, then administration cannot be far behind.

Posted on 11 \06\09.

ATR to give 3 million boost to racecourses.

At The Races chief executive Matthew Mii has indicated the broadcaster of live racing on Sky television channel 415 have done so well since their relaunch five years ago, they anticipate distributing 3 million pounds amongst their affiliated racecourses during 2009.

This situation puts ATR in a strong position while their rivals at Racing UK are facing the possibility of having to offer services as a stand alone subscription channel if their current partners Setanta go into administration, as is widely suspected.

Posted on 09\06\09.

Racing UK can stand alone.

With the current economic news indicating Irish Satellite broadcaster Setanta is close to going into administration, officials at Racing UK have been quick to point out this will not affect the service they provide to their subscribers, and even if Setanta fold, Racing UK have the ability to continue to function as a stand alone subscriber channel.

Jockey Clunb Racecourses give good news plus warning.

Reporting on their 2008 trading, Jockey Club Racecourses have announced their turnover was up 10.5% on the 2007 figure, with total turnover amounting to £100.9 million. Allowing 84.5% of the total to cover interest payments, depreciation and transfers, operating profit came out at £19.80 million.

Despite these good figures in 2008, officials of JCr have warned of difficult trading conditions in the early months of 2009, and if the current negative trend at their various racing venues continues during the remainder of the year, they may have to reduce prize money for races if they are to maintain profit margins.

Royal Ascot bookings affected by City slump.

Officials at Ascot are admitting the pre-booked orders for next week's Royal Meeting are down on average between five and ten per cent. The bbulk of the loss is concentrated on what was known as 'City Friday' - traditionally the day 'high fliers' took the day off work in the City of London financial district and attended the Royal Meeting.

Falling this year on Friday 19 June, the bookings for this day are believed to be down as much as 20%, and this loss will not just affect ticket revenue, as the 'high fliers' also spent large sums on hig range hospitality, and this revenue will be almost impossible to replace.

Posted on 04\06\09.

Paddy Power add to their Australian holdings.

Having recently taken day to day control of Sports Bet, a move which also gave them nearly twenty per cent of All Sports, Paddy Power have now purchased control of Mark Read bookmakers, and are fast becoming the major player in the Australian domestic bookmaking industry.

Apart from expanding their take of revenue from the lucrative Australian betting market, these acquisitions also give them the position to offer on-line services to the expanding Far East betting market.

Posted on 03\06\09.

Durdan Stables back on the market.

After failing to get planning permission for a change of use to residential and business units for his Durdan Stables complex from the local council, Lord Halifax has put the historic Newmarket property back up for sale on the open market.

Although steeped in history, the property will not be easy to sell in the current market, and it could become a financial drag on Lord Halifax's Property Company.

Financial disputes hit new record high on internet betting.

The Independant Betting Adjudication Service, (IBAS), has reported the number of financial disputes involving gambling on internet sites has reached a ten year high of 2,184 active cases in the calendar year ending 31 December 2008.

It is most probable the loosening of advertising regulations and the emergence of lots of new internet betting options may well have contributed to this increase, and until the market settles down with the fittest surviving, this trend towards increased financial disputes is likely to increase again during 2009.

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Posted on 28\05\09.

Coral extend Welsh National sponsorship.

Coral bookmakers have revealed they have extended their £100,000 annual sponsorship of Chepstow's premier steeplechase - the Welsh Grand National - until the end of 2012.

This new deal ensures Coral will reach the remarkable landmark of sponsoring the same race at Chepstow for forty uninterupted years. It also shows, even if the BBC stop covering the 28 December race on terrestrial television, Coral are fairly confident another broadcaster will come in to pick up the race for showing to a significant audience.

Posted on 27\05\09.

Bookmakers lowering their margins on starting prices.

The latest research suggests the leading bookmaking firms are lowering the percentage margin they are taking on starting prices on the whole spectrum of horseracing. This mirrors the rest of the retail and leisure sector, and indicates during these recessionary times, businesses are lowering their profit margins on individual items, while attempting to encourage greater through-put.

Based on the initial sets of results from the leading bookmaking firms for the first four months of this year, the above strategy does not initially seem to be detrimental to their overall profits, but it will be interesting to analyse their full year results.

Posted on 22\05\09.

IBF to be pro-active following Irish government reprieve.

Following the Irish government’s recent decision to reverse the intended increase in betting duty, a measure originally introduced to raise much needed revenue for the Irish economy, the Irish Bookmakers Federation are not just giving a sigh of relief, in fact, they are taking a pro-active approach to the reprieve, which is summed up in a recent statement from Sharon Byrne, chairperson of the IBF.

"We are relieved that the Government were able to address the
grave error made in last years budget and prevent the thousands of
job losses that were looming unnecessarily.  It gives us time to
concentrate on the new legislation being prepared to
regulate the entire gambling industry.  We must now ensure
the legislation allows us to develop and modernise our
shops in line with all other businesses, and  that social
responsibility practices similar to those used in Irish betting shops for the last
couple of years,  becomes embedded in any legislation for all sectors
of this industry.  We also need to ensure that the new legislation allows
us to compete with off shore internet and phone companies, and
protects the businesses which are providing over 6,000 jobs in Ireland".

Posted on 21\05\09.

Mould optimistic about share price.

At yesterday's AGM held at Lingfield Park prior to racing, the Chairman of Arena Leisure, Raymond Mould, pointed out the fall in the company's share price to 23.5 pence from 41 pence a year ago was undesirable, but he also gave a stout defence of the company's activity, suggesting many other businesses in the leisure industry had come under pressure during the current recession, and they had also suffered similar drops in share prices.

Mould reiterated the good attendance figures Arena Leisure had achieved in the first four months of this year, and with Worcester racecourse coming back on-line, the company had room for optimism both in terms of profits and the share price.

Posted on 20\05\09.

Racecourse attendances increase despite recession.

General attendances on british racecourses showed an unexpected increase over the first four months of this year. The average attendance of 2,916 is up 5.6% on the corresponding four months of 2008, and even if the abandoned day of the Cheltenham Festival in 2008 is brought into the computations, it still shows a real year on year increase of 4.6%.

Arena Leisure ar a good microcosm of these figures, for they have reported a year on year increase of 5% on the first four months trading on their six active racecourses, and with Worcester coming back on line today, the Group are confident of hitting their predicted targets and figures for 2009.

Amongst the majority of racecourses, the above increases are being attributed to sensible discounting, and lots of good marketing during a period of recession.

Perhaps the racecourses should elect their own committee to plan the way forward for British horseracing, for they would certainly be more successful than the consultants employed by Racing Enterprises Limited, who so far have cost a quarter of a million pounds, and have come up with old figures and ideas.

Posted on 19\05\09.

Playtec post income increase.

Software business Playtec, who created an on-line partnership with bookmakers William Hill in 2008, have reported their income for the first quarter of 2009 is up 40% on the corresponding quarter of 2008.

Racing Groups have no interest in Great Leighs.

With the fixture deadline of 28 May fast approaching, both Northern Racing and Arena Leisure have confirmed they are not interested in bidding for Great Leighs racecourse, and with the ten million proposal by local businessman Terry Chambers having apparently been scorned by major creditor RBS Nat West, it seems unlikely administrators Deloitte will obtain a 'white knight' in time to secure 2010 fixtures for the former Essex Showground racecourse.

Posted on 17\05\09.

Royal Ascot admit recessionary reductions.

Officials at Ascot have admitted recessionary pressures are hitting advance ticket sales and hospitality for the June Royal Meeting. Compared with the same time last year, overall sales are described as bing between ten and fifteen per cent down, and the racecourse will have to reduce its budget forecasts accordingly.

Posted on 16\05\09.

Great Leighs sale falls through.

The sale of Great Leighs racecourse to local Essex businessman Terry Chambers has fallen through, and administrators Deloitte now only have just under two months to find a buyer, or the administration process will terminate, and liquidation, and possible individual bankruptcy proceedings will have to begin.

At this stage, it is difficult to assess what RBS Nat West are considering as an alternative, for if liquidation proceedings begin, they are liable for around twenty million pounds, so it is possible they will seek a management partner, and take over the racecourse before the administration period ends.

Posted on 15\05\09.

Paddy Power acquire majority shareholding in Australian firm.

Ireland's leading independant bookmaker Paddy Power have acquired a majority 51% shareholding in Australia's largest independant bookmaking firm Sportsbet. The deal worth sixty four million euros, (£57.4 million), also gives Paddy Power control of the 19.998% shareholding Sportsbet had acquired in the shareholding of rival Australian bookmaking firm All Sports.

Not only does this deal give Paddy Power access into the lucrative Australian sports betting market, but it strengthens their worldwide on-line operations, and makes them a major world player.

Posted on 14\05\09.

Two week deadline for potential Great Leighs owner.

The BHA have made it quite apparent to the new potential purchaser of Great Leighs racecourse, he or she must fulfill two criteria in the next two weeks, or there will be no likelyhood of obtaining racing fixtures for the 2010 calendar period.

Firstly, the take-over of the venue from the Essex Showground Company Limited must be signed and sealed with administrators Deloitte.

Furthermore, the new owner must supply the BHA with a financial plan as to how they intend to successfully run the racecourse in the future, and these details must be submitted and approved by the BHA Racing Committee by end of business on 28 May 2009, otherwise, the new owner will not be eligible to bid for race meetings on the designated date of 08 June 2009.

Unless the potential buyer has bottomless pockets and very good accountants, these deadlines seem beyond the realm of a marginal buyer.

DCM re-open applications for Levy Board post.

Seven applicants were due to have an interview for the vacant post of Levy Board Chairman tomorrow, but in a remarkable U turn, the Department of Culture and Media have decided to re-open the post for further applications. The DCM's accompanying statement, in which a spokesperson indicated the government department were looking for applicants with a wider experience of senior management, is hardly a ringing endorsement of the current applicants, and it will probably lead to the seven unidentified people withdrawing their current interest in the vacant position.

Blofeld in suprise move away from Epsom.

Having just overseen the completion of the new grandstand complex, and a five year Derby Meeting sponsorship deal with Investec, most people would have expected Epsom managing director Nick Blofeld to go from strength to strength with Epsom racecourse. It has therefore come as a major shock that he has tendered his resignation, and is to take up a position unconnected with racing.

It is understood the Epsom executive will begin the hunt for a replacement as soon as practically possible.

 

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