RACING POST REPORT BY TONY ELVES AND BRUCE JACKSON
FRIDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2010
McCoy slams prize-money levels as a big turnoff for would - be owners.
Tony McCoy, the record breaking 14-time champion jockey, has branded prize-money levels in Britain a “disgrace” – despite Wednesday’s revelations that last year witnessed a record amount of £110 million.
McCoy said that his complaint was not from a personal stance; rather, he feels owners are not receiving their just rewards through prize-money, given the costs of having a horse in training and providing the raw material for an industry that supports 100,000, full time jobs.
McCoy’s comments – aired at Doncaster on Wednesday and elaborated on at Huntingdon yesterday – were applauded by Paul Dixon, president of the Racehorse Owners’ Association and chairman of the Horseman’s Group, who yesterday laid the blame firmly at the door of racecourses.
McCoy had initially voiced his frustration at Doncaster, saying: “It’s a disgrace we’re racing for a first prize of less than two grand.” That was a reference to the opening novice hurdle, in which he finished fifth – although of all five meetings in Britain and Ireland that day, Doncaster’s prize – money was the best.
McCoy said yesterday: “I’m not complaining from a personal point of view, but from the owner’s point of view, as we are trying to encourage people into racing. “When you see how much it costs an owner to buy a horse, and then they are paying between £300 and £400 per week to keep them in training, how can it be encouraging them to come into racing?
“The level of prize – money needs to be higher and there is either not enough money or too much racing.”
The bare facts paint a worsening picture, as there have been 279 races worth less than £2,000 to the winner from January 1 this year, against 127 in the same period in 2009, while since New Year’s Day 2009 there have been 1,052 such races, although 11 ended in dead – heats and initially had a first prize or more than £2,000.
Told that McCoy had raised the issue of prize – money, Dixon was delighted and said: “Tony is totally right. He doesn’t need the money and is speaking out for the sport in general and for all the little people, the journeyman jockey, the owner, the breeder, the trainer and the stable staff, who this issue is all affecting. It’s got to stop as there’s plenty of money coming into racing, adding, lots of racecourses have reneged on the prize – money agreement, which is discretionary.
“Horsemen have been sold down the river. Prize – money is the only important thing in racing. It filters down to everyone involved in racing.”
McCoy called on the Levy Board to bite the bullet and change the funding mechanism for racecourses, to make contribution mandatory rather than discretionary.
Dixon, privy to industry figures, said that owner’s, had put £450m into racing last year and contributed more than 15 per cent to prize – money.
He added: “It is becoming an owners’ lottery, running for our own money. It is a joke, when racecourses are getting increasing revenue, and in two years’ time they will be getting obscene amounts through picture rights.
“Racecourses need to put more of their money in, and horsemen have had enough."
In stark warning, Dixon, who owns 30 horses and has a stud with 20 brood mares, added: "Without the players on the stage, you don't have a play.
"Racecourses need to appreciate that and it is time for us to seriously look at our options. We must vote with our feet.”