Friday marked the start of the jump season at Cheltenham with the annual October showcase.
As the races cantered into Cheltenham this weekend, the town benefited financially as punters parted with their hard earned cash in Cheltenham’s large array of bars and pubs .
Although this is by no means the biggest event of the season, a healthy 60,000 people made their pilgrimage to the Mecca of jump racing.
Annually, the racecourse makes around 25 million pounds in sponsorship, hospitality and ticket sales and a prize pot of around 5 million is up for grabs for trainers and jockeys alike.
Work has already begun for The Festival in March when the Gold Cup is up for grabs. The Festival is essential for the commercial success of the town with Gold Cup week set to bring in £100 million to the wider Gloucestershire area.
The races attract bigger crowds every year with 65,000 expected to pass through the gates in March and the racecourse is expanding year on year with £45 million being spent last year on improving the facilities.
“Cheltenham contributes a significant proportion of our total revenues for the year – it is very important for us to be able to put this money back into racing.” – Ian Renton – Cheltenham Racecourse Director
Another area of focus for the sport is making it appealing to the next generation.
“We need to find ways to be interesting and relevant to young people on their terms, including through digital channels, new technologies and the mainstream appeal of our media partners,” says Mr Bazalgette.
Meanwhile, from April, British horse racing will benefit from mandatory contributions from all major gambling businesses that take bets on the sport in the UK.
It means any gambling business that takes bets from consumers based in the UK on races held in this country will pay 10% of their gross profit from racing – above the first £500,000 they make – to support the sport and the equine industry.
It will be enforced via a reformed statutory Horserace Betting Levy, which Bazalgette says will “provide a level playing field for all betting firms to compete and long-term certainty and sustainability for British racing”.