UK horseracing industry secures £22m hardship fund

The UK Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) and the Racing Foundation have announced a £22m coronavirus relief fund for UK horseracing.

The UK Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) and the Racing Foundation have come together to pledge £22m in emergency funds to help support the British horseracing industry amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Just like all other major sporting events, horseracing events in the UK have been suspended since March and are not scheduled to resume until the end of April at the earliest.

The £22m hardship fund

The majority of the HBLB’s funds will go towards racecourses, which will receive £13.5m, while the Racing Foundation will put £8m towards “hardship issues faced by racing’s participants, both human and equine” during the coronavirus pandemic.

The HBLB will also make advanced payments of raceday services grants to racecourses. Usually, the HBLB pays racecourses £12,571 for most fixtures for regulation and integrity services. However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the HBLB has agreed to up to eight of these payments early with four being paid now and another four being paid in “the near future.” These payments combined are worth £18m.

Both the HBLB and Racing Foundation will each contribute £3.75m towards four-year loans of up to £200,000 per racecourse. However, there will be a cap placed on how much will be available to racecourse groups. Funds will also be put towards Racing Welfare’s “hardship grants” scheme, which has been in high demand since the coronavirus outbreak.

Both of the organisations will also create a “racing relief fund” worth up to £2.5m which is intended to “meet the welfare needs of horses who may be at risk if owners become unable to support them.”

Self-employed jockeys, agents and valets who are unable to earn a wage will also be able to take advantage of a hardship scheme worth up to £900,000. This scheme is set to provide similar benefits to the government’s furlough scheme.

The HBLB and Racing Foundation will also donate £900,000 to British Racing’s official charities.

What the HBLB and Racing Foundation said

Paul Darling, Chairman of HBLB, said: “This is a substantial undertaking by the Levy Board in conjunction with the Racing Foundation. The Board has agreed to make available significant sums to racecourses through a combination of measures that will meet the demand for cash in the short-term. Importantly, this approach preserves further Levy funds that we know will be needed for prize money when racing resumes.

“Negotiating the many challenges ahead of us all will require exceptional co-operation between every sector. Those challenges can only be met if British racing and the betting industry work in partnership and the Levy Board will play a full and active part in ensuring that this happens.”

Ian Barlow, Chairman of the Racing Foundation, said: “The Trustees of the Foundation agreed that during this exceptional time the organisation should not be bound by its normal endowment rules and be prepared to bring forward future years’ expenditure, while utilising some of its capital, to support the emerging needs of the sport. The funding requests we have received are varied and we want to take an approach which can help alleviate the immediate hardship being felt by the sport’s people, horses, businesses and charities.

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