British racing leaders have pledged to prioritise the retention of owners and key investors as part of a new recovery plan in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The plan, published on Tuesday by the British Horseracing Authority, confirms the next phase of recovery policy agreed in discussions with the Racecourse Association and owners’, jockeys’ and trainers’ representatives.
It identifies nine “industry goals” – including a full resumption of racing with maximum possible attendance and “best possible ownership and spectator experience”, the continuation of safety measures and strict control of social distancing on course, a reduction of the sport’s cost base and “pursuit of immediate Levy reform”.
The maximisation of prize money in 2021, accounting for projected revenue constraints during the recession which has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic, is another goal, through new commercial agreements.
In a statement released alongside the plan, an update to the one published in March as a first strategic response to the Covid-19 outbreak, BHA chief executive Nick Rust warns of “tough battles ahead” and stresses the importance of continued unity.
“It’s very important that this plan has been agreed by leaders from all parts of the racing industry,” he said.
“We know from the way we prepared to resume racing in June that working together works.
“The commitment shown by leaders in signing up to this recovery plan demonstrates a continued willingness to maintain a unified approach through the tough battles ahead.”
RCA chief executive David Armstrong voiced his support.
“The whole industry worked very well to enable racing to return as the first major sport behind closed doors,” he said.
“Now we have to renew that collaboration as we enter this recovery phase and move beyond that into 2021.
“This plan brings together all the necessary components in one clear action plan, with some ambitious goals. From a racecourse perspective, the return of racegoers and the experience for owners are clear priorities that are already under way – and we look forward to the wider recovery of the sport.”
Charlie Liverton, chief executive of the Racehorse Owners Association, representing the Horsemen’s Group, added: “It is imperative that we focus on the vital drivers that keep our sport going and growing – retaining owners and maximising the sport’s revenues.
“There is a lot to be done – but I am confident that, working together, we can deliver this vital work for participants across the industry.”