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.”
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).
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.