Chester Racecourse today announced a new initiative that will reward owners with a £400 payment each time a horse runs at the course during the 2016 season. An appearance money scheme of this scale has never before been attempted by a British racecourse, however, with the cost of sending a racehorse to the races ever-increasing, this move will hopefully reduce the financial burden for owners and in turn, continue to attract runners at the North West course.
The initiative will work as a minimum payment contribution; owners whose runner fails to win prize money will receive a payment of £400, those who win prize-money of less than £400 will have their prize-money ‘topped’ up to ensure no owner leaves Chester with less than £400 per runner.
‘We are delighted to launch this scheme’, said Richard Thomas, Chief Executive of Chester Race Company, ‘As a racecourse that has been voted best large course at the ROA Horseracing Awards, this scheme is crucial for us to look after a very important group of stakeholders: our owners. These payments aim to significantly contribute to those operating at the grassroots level of our sport, particularly when often, efforts of runners aren’t always rewarded on the track.’
The initiative has also received praise from racing professionals:
Rachel Hood, ROA President: “Chester has only recently been announced as the ROA’s large racecourse of the year for its exceptional raceday offering for owners. The introduction of an appearance money scheme for all races in 2016 is another excellent initiative. Owners often incur significant costs when they have a runner, so offering a meaningful payment to offset those charges provides another reason to target races at Chester. The fact is that racecourses are competing with each other for runners, and we believe this innovation is the exactly the type of thing that will influence owners when making their running plans.”
Dr Marwan Koukash, a leading owner: “For some time, Chester Racecourse have led the way by providing owners with first class facilities and hospitality. This new fantastic initiative does go a long way towards covering the costs of racing and I congratulate them for introducing it to British racing. I will have to start sending more horses to Chester!”
Further initiatives will be announced prior to the Boodles May Festival, but in more good news prize money for the 2016 Boodles May Festival is also on the increase. An 8% increase in the total prize fund, values the festival at £781,000 next season. Races of particular note include the Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks, won in 2015 by subsequent Group 1 winner Diamondsandrubies which will be run for a total prize fund of £60,000 increased from £40,000.