British racing will continue to contract and lose owners unless it urgently addresses its financial weaknesses, the chief executive of the Racing Owners Association says.
Richard Wayman, writing on the association wesbsite, said figures published recently in the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities annual report clearly illustrated the biggest challenge facing British racing.
The authority calculated prize-money as a percentage of keep and training costs in 47 racing nations.
“From a British perspective, it makes very sorry reading,” Wayman said.
“In fact, there are only five countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Serbia and Switzerland – in which, using this measure, owners fare worse than here.”
A table shows British racing tailing off from the rest of the field, behind neighbours France, Italy, Germany and Ireland, he said.
“The fact that the British owner recovers, on average, just £21 for every £100 that they spend on keeping a horse in training confirms what we already know: the finances of owning a racehorse in Britain don’t stack up. The fact that you don’t have to travel far to enjoy a significant improvement in financial returns explains why a growing number of British owners are increasing their racing interests elsewhere.”
Wayman stressed it was not all “doom and gloom”, acknowledging that the quality of racing and facilities at many British racecourses were second to none.
“However, unless British racing urgently addresses its financial weaknesses, the industry will continue to contract as owners reduce their interests or even leave the sport entirely.”
Wayman noted that prize-money fell below £94m last year for the first time since 2003.
“Whilst there is some cause to be optimistic, the reality is that British racing will need to find significantly more improvement if it is going to claw its way out of racing’s prize-money relegation zone.”