Chester Racecourse has announced a pioneering appearance money scheme which will see owners pocket at least £400 every time one of their horses runs at the Roodee this year.
The ‘every fixture, every race, every horse’ payment initiative is the first of its kind in British horseracing history.
It will ensure that even horses that don’t win any prize money from their race will still leave Chester with some financial reward for their owners.
The move is, in part, an effort to attract runners who might otherwise have chosen to race at different courses, while it also reduces the financial burden places on owners.
Chester Racecourse said in a statement that “an appearance money scheme of this scale has never before been attempted by a British racecourse.”
Richard Thomas , chief executive of Chester Race Company, added: “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 Racing Post estimate that the move will cost Chester in the region of £250,000 this year.
The initiative will work as a minimum payment contribution. Owners whose runner fails to win prize money will receive a payment of £400, while 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.
Under British Horseracing Authority appearance money rules, owners will be required to pass on eight per cent to the trainer, six per cent to the yard and a further six per cent to the jockey.
The initiative has earned praise from racing professionals.
Scheme will attract owners to Chester
Rachel Hood, president of the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), said: “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, added: “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.”
Chester was voted best large course at the ROA Horseracing Awards last year but also drew criticism when it banned racegoers from taking alcohol on to the open course in an effort to reduce anti-social behaviour.
The 2016 season begins on the Roodee with the Boodles May Festival, which has had its prize money upped this year by 8% to £781,000.