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The Jockey Club announces record annual results

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The Jockey Club today announced its annual results, which reveal that the largest commercial group in British horseracing grew its business to record levels in 2014, with a sixth consecutive year of turnover growth, and used its resources to make record returns to the sport through contributions to prize money.

The results outline how a focus on maximising returns from The Jockey Club’s commercial operations have allowed it to pump more than GBP£400m into prize money and facilities for customers and participants in the last decade. The owner of some of the world’s leading racing festivals, including the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, The Cheltenham Festival, The Investec Derby Festival and the QIPCO Guineas Festival, The Jockey Club is governed by Royal Charter to reinvest all profits into British racing.

In 2014, The Jockey Club grew its commercial operations for a sixth consecutive year to achieve‎ record turnover of GBP£171.2m, up by 5.1% year-on-year (2013: GBP£162.9m), which is almost double UK economic growth in 2014. Key to this turnover were ticket sales, particularly at the Group’s major racing festivals, hospitality and catering sales, media income, music nights and non-racing events at its venues.

This performance allowed The Jockey Club to contribute a record GBP£19.1m to prize money in 2014 – up from GBP£18.2m in 2013 – taking its prize money contribution in the last decade to GBP£146.4m.

In 2014, the Group also invested GBP£36.1m on new and upgraded facilities, and maintaining standards and racing surfaces across its fifteen racecourses nationwide; training grounds at Newmarket, Lambourn and Epsom Downs; the historic Jockey Club Rooms; and The National Stud. This combined reinvestment in British racing through prize money and facilities of GBP£55.2m in 2014 was an increase of GBP£21.7m on the previous year. After its record prize money contribution, in 2014 the Group generated its second-largest operating profit ever of GBP£21.7m. This was GBP£0.3m less than its 2013 record as a result of a decision to increase its reinvestments in British racing.

Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, said:
I’m delighted we’ve been able to grow the business for a sixth successive year because it allows us to increase our dividend for British racing. By maximising returns from our commercial operations we’ve been able to invest more than £400 million into the sport in the last 10 years. We’ve done that through prize money and facilities for customers and participants, and also supporting the sport’s promotion. 

This is something our people feel very proud of and it is thanks to their hard work striving to give customers of all types the best possible experience and promoting British racing as a sport, nationwide. It’s also been essential because of racing’s flawed funding model where Britain remains the poor relation to other racing nations thanks to an outdated Levy system that needs replacing as quickly as possible.

Racing brings enjoyment to millions of people each year and is responsible for tens of thousands of jobs. We take very seriously our role as stewards of some of its most iconic events, as well as our operations throughout all levels of the sport.

On the back of a successful recent Cheltenham Festival and Crabbie’s Grand National Festival [reported in The Jockey Club’s 2015 annual results this time next year], Simon Bazalgette added: “We’ve had a strong start to 2015, particularly through an excellent Cheltenham Festival and Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, which both achieved significant attendance increases. After the economic crash occurred we managed to keep general admissions on an upward curve as racing offered excellent value, enjoyment and escapism. However, hospitality sales dropped right off from record levels of 2008. In 2014 we saw hospitality rebound as the economy recovered and as we offered a greater mix of product and pricing. At the 2015 Cheltenham Festival hospitality sales grew a further 15% year-on-year and we saw 8% growth at the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, meaning we’re not only returning to 2008 levels for hospitality sales, but now beating them at several of our events.

“Jockey Club Racecourses is staging fewer fixtures this year as a result of the changing landscape on the all-weather, which is a shame because that removes around GBP£1m from the profits we use to reinvest in British racing, but despite this we are on track to contribute a new record amount to prize money of GBP£19.9m before abandonments in 2015.”

Download the Annual Review & Outlook 2015 (PDF)

‎Jockey Club Racecourses
Jockey Club Racecourses is the leading racecourse group in the UK by turnover (£162.9 million), attendances (1.8 million), prize money contributions (£19.1 million), total prize money (£43.7 million) and quantity of quality racing (Group and Graded).

Racing events
In 2014, Jockey Club Racecourses welcomed attendances of 1.8 million to its 362 racing fixtures, up from 1.7 million at 361 fixtures in 2013. This equated to around a third of all attendances in British racing from staging just under a quarter of the sport’s fixtures. The group lost 11 fixtures to the weather during 2014, reducing profits and prize money.

Total prize money across its 15 racecourses nationwide amounted to a record £43.7 million in 2014 (2013: £41.6 million) – an average of more than £120,000 per fixture, up from around £115,000 in 2013. This compared to average prize money per fixture in 2014 of £74,336 outside Jockey Club Racecourses.

At a time when British racing is focused on tackling the challenge of small fields, The Jockey Club’s flat racing fixtures attracted an average of 9.3 runners per race in 2014 compared to the industry average outside its courses of 8.8. This was an average of 8.9 runners per race for its jump racing fixtures compared to the average outside the group of 8.0 runners per race.

Jockey Club Racecourses invested £27.8 million in racecourse facilities and racing surfaces through capital expenditure during 2014 and more than £7.5 million of operating expenditure on improvements to its customer experience through non-permanent facilities and racing surfaces, as well as maintenance of existing facilities.

In addition to funding the ongoing development at Cheltenham Racecourse – which will be completed ahead of The Festival 2016 – improvements included Owners & Trainers facilities at Kempton Park, Sandown Park, Nottingham and Carlisle; permanent saddling boxes at Epsom Downs; a new development at Market Rasen to replace its grandstand; the new covered ‘Boulevard’ at the Rowley Mile; 1,750 hospitality suites at Aintree and Sandown Park; Tommy Whittle boxes at Haydock Park; steppings for customers at the July Course; and a range of bar and catering facility enhancements.

Jockey Club Catering launches new food and drink outlet at Cheltenham Racecourse

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Cheltenham Racecourse and Jockey Club Catering launched the new bar and tapas food outlet, Quevega’s, on Friday 14 November, the first day of The Open (Friday 14 – Sunday 16 November), the second most popular race meeting at the Home of Jump racing.

Named after the mare who won six races in a row at The Festival, from 2009 to 2014, the new outlet is located at the top of the paddock and offers a wide selection of tapas platters, including sustainably-sourced meat, fish, vegetarian and seafood options, alongside an extensive wine list.

The opening of the new space comes as the racecourse reveals the second stage of a GBP£45m redevelopment of the site, including the creation of a new five and a half storey grandstand, set to be completed by March 2016.

This investment also recently saw the opening of the new See You Then bar at The Showcase last month, Friday 17 October. Situated above Quevega’s, the new 22 metre bar is now the longest fixed bar on site. The area will be used as the members-only facility at some of the racecourse’s most prestigious events, including The Festival.

Sophia Brudenell, Communications Manager at Cheltenham Racecourse, said:

We are very excited to introduce the first stages of our redevelopment. Our new facilities will provide racegoers with more choice of food and drink and ensures our guests are able to make the most of their time at Cheltenham.

 

Nick Campbell, Chief Operations Officer at Jockey Club Catering added:

2014 has been a significant year for Cheltenham Racecourse. The ongoing development to our food and drink offering highlights our commitment to providing the very best facilities.

Churchill Downs capital improvement project enhances owners’ experience

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Churchill Downs Racetrack plans to enhance the experience for owners that start horses in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and the Longines Kentucky Oaks through a $4.2 million capital improvement project that includes the construction of 20 private, open-air, all-inclusive Winner’s Circle Suites in a premium location under the Twin Spires between the sixteenth pole and finish line.

The notable project also includes a remodelled Trackside Winner’s Circle and the creation of a new Courtyard that will accommodate temporary premium seating during Derby Week while providing a relaxed park-like setting for everyday racing fans. Kevin Flanery, Churchill Downs Racetrack President, said:

There are many wonderful seating options at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks but these new Winner’s Circle Suites are where anyone who has ever owned or dreamed of owning a racehorse wants to be.

We’re thrilled to make this investment and truly thank our Derby and Oaks owners by creating an exclusive area that will provide more complimentary tickets, food and beverage and other extraordinary amenities than ever before.

Construction on the $4.2 million project will begin in December after the conclusion of the Fall Meet, and will be complete before the start of the 2015 Spring Meet on Saturday, April 25, 2015.

Churchill Downs is currently working with architectural firm Populous on the project designs.

Churchill Downs has retained PC Sports, a division of Texas-based Raba Kistner, Inc., to assist in the project’s management. A General Contractor for the project has not yet been selected.

The new and exclusive Winner’s Circle Suites will be conveniently located adjacent to the Trackside Winner’s Circle with easy access to the racetrack and paddock runway with minimised congestion. The number of complimentary tickets for all participating owners in the Derby and Oaks will be tripled to 18 tickets for their respective race day.

The Winner’s Circle Suites will feature comfortable undercover seating with in-venue wagering options and full-service hospitality, including a premium open bar and gourmet food. Also, guests will have access to an indoor, semi-private hospitality area and restrooms exclusive to the venue. All areas of the project will be accessible for persons with mobility disabilities.

In prior years, owners of Oaks and Derby horses received a complimentary six-person box in Section 318, food and beverage hospitality in a separate area overlooking the paddock, and the opportunity to purchase two additional boxes in 318. Should owners require additional seating in 2015 beyond the 18 complimentary tickets provided, they may still purchase an additional box of six seats in Section 318.

The project is the latest investment by Churchill Downs to upgrade and enhance its historic racing and entertainment facility. More than $178 million has been devoted in the last decade to enrich the on-track experience, including: a sweeping Clubhouse and Grandstand renovation (2005); permanent lights (2010); the Plaza/Plaza Balcony (2012); The Mansion (2013); The Parlay (2013); the Grandstand Terrace (2014); and the world’s largest 4K ultra-high definition Big Board with an enhanced sound system (2014).

The new Winner’s Circle Suites and Courtyard will be constructed in a premium location of the facility by converting what are now box seats in Section 118 and 119 Clubhouse on the south side of the paddock runway, and bleacher seats in Section 119 Grandstand and one-third of Section 120 Grandstand on the paddock runway’s north side. Total seating in the areas before renovation was 3,345, and the new space will accommodate more than 1,800.

The Courtyard, a family-friendly green space that will create a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere for everyday racing, will be a spacious lawn area in front of the new Winner’s Circle Suites. For Derby Week, more than 600 temporary premium seats will be configured in traditional rows and aisles with padded chairs, and those guests will have access to an exclusive hospitality space with an all-inclusive menu and restrooms. Seating in the existing Sections 218-219 will have access to the hospitality space, as well.

The versatile Courtyard also will be utilised to enrich the experience of big-event days throughout the rest of the year, including Downs After Dark night racing and Family Adventure Days.

Select guests that are affected by the Winner’s Circle Suites and Courtyard Project are in the process of being contacted personally by track officials, and every effort will be made to relocate those guests to a comparable area. Additionally, those guests can opt to upgrade their seating packages with new inventory, including more availability in Section 318, or premium areas that include food and beverage hospitality.

The new Courtyard seats for Derby Week will be offered to existing customers first. Any remaining inventory will be sold to the general public through an online sale in mid-November. The deadline to register for the online sale at KentuckyDerby.com/Tickets has been extended to Friday, Nov. 7.

Guests seated in most sections, including the new Winner’s Circle Suites and Courtyard, will have unobstructed views of the racetrack and the Big Board, which is 171-feet wide, 90-feet tall and towers 80-feet above the ground to top out at 170 feet high.

The Trackside Winner’s Circle will be remodelled and repositioned directly next to the paddock runway on the south side to create more space for winning horses, their connections and other dignitaries.

 

 

 

Parade Ring turns dance floor at Goodwood

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Goodwood Racecourse is among the British race courses that have reinvigorated horse racing by juxtaposing a classically British sport with the current passion for live, outdoor music events. After an exciting evening of horses thundering down the straight, the usually sedate Parade Ring turns into one of the most glamorous dance floors in the UK, complete with spectacular laser show.

Now in its third year, the West Sussex venue, just over an hour from London, has seen the likes Mark Ronson, Mike Skinner and Boy George take to the decks and thrill the countryside with the sound of music. Last year over 20,000 guests soaked up this unique experience at the sell-out nights and organisers anticipate even larger crowds in 2013.

The 2013 acts and dates are Rudimental, Andy Cato (Groove Armada) and Trevor Nelson.

Goodwood Racecourse Managing Director, Adam Waterworth said:

We’re thrilled to be celebrating the third year of Three Friday Nights event at Goodwood. We love the mix of the adrenalin of horse racing combined with the world renowned D’s we have signed. I am confident that this year will be our best year yet.

State of the art grandstand to complete Cheltenham jigsaw

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The Jockey Club is investing £45 million into the next stage of development at its flagship Cheltenham Racecourse. Subject to planning permission, the proposed development will create a state of the art new grandstand in place of the circa 1920s ‘A&R’ block.

The new grandstand will house annual members’ facilities, general public viewing areas, private boxes and Royal Box facilities. The Jockey Club investment will include improvements for owners and trainers, and focus on enhancing the overall customer experience at the racecourse. The 2013 Cheltenham Festival, one of the UK’s major events, welcomed in excess of 235,000 people.

The Jockey Club Board commissioned a feasibility study into the proposed development at Cheltenham. With that completed and having now been presented with a robust business plan, a range of financing options and a carefully tested design, they had no hesitation in approving the project,

Paul Fisher, Group Managing Director of Jockey Club Racecourses said

The economy remains challenging, but we continue to grow our business successfully year-after-year, allowing us to invest more into our sport. We are contributing a record amount into prize money in 2013 from our own resources and that will remain a key area of focus for us. We propose to finance the development at Cheltenham through a range of commercially-sound methods, on which there will be more news in the coming weeks.

Provided planning permission for the proposed development at Cheltenham is achieved in time and the necessary financing is in place, the main development will begin immediately after the 2014 Festival with a scheduled completion date ahead of the 2016 Festival. During the construction period, Cheltenham would be able to continue staging its race programme as normal.

All of us at Cheltenham are delighted to be involved in this new iconic grandstand development, which will make a huge difference to the experience for many racegoers,

said Ian Renton, Cheltenham and the South West Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses.

Over the course of a successful 2013 Festival, we gathered customer feedback asking us to improve bar facilities, increase the number of toilets, provide further viewing opportunities of the racing and the parade ring and help improve circulation on the busiest days.

This new development will deliver all these enhancements as well as offering much improved facilities for Annual Members and Owners & Trainers, an excellent facility for our existing A&R boxholders, and new opportunities through additional hospitality areas and viewing boxes to generate revenue to reinvest into racing.

Robert Waley-Cohen, Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, added:

This development will enhance Cheltenham’s unique character and is the last part of the grandstand development that began 30 years ago. It focuses on two key objectives: maximising enjoyment of the horse and improving the overall Cheltenham experience for all racegoers.

Before and after images of its proposed grandstand development, issued by Cheltenham racecourse.

Before and after images of its proposed grandstand development, issued by Cheltenham racecourse.