The Jockey Club shows strong financial form

The Jockey Club, the largest commercial group in British horseracing, has reported double-digit growth in underlying turnover and operating profits for 2011, allowing the Group to increase its investment into horse racing – including a record contribution to prize money of £16.4m.

This is up from the £13m contribution made in 2010, an increase of 26%, in line with its commitment to invest all profits back into British racing. The Jockey Club, which also owns Cheltenham, Aintree, Epson Downs and Newmarket Racecourses, generated increased turnover of £139.4m in 2011 (2010: £138.0m), despite receiving £8.8m less in industry funding.

At £19.2m, The Jockey Club’s operating profits were also up for 2011 (2010: £18.3m), driven by growth in major racing festivals, which helped Jockey Club Racecourses to attract record annual attendances of 1.9m, plus increased income from media rights, hospitality sales and sponsorship, and the loss of fewer fixtures to the weather.

Adjusting for the decision to inject an additional £3.4m into prize money, the Group grew underlying operating profits by £4.3m or 23% year-on-year. With record attendances of 1.9m in 2011, The Jockey Club’s racecourse arm welcomed nearly a third of the UK’s total racing attendance, from hosting a quarter of the sport’s fixtures. 

The Jockey Club ended 2011 with bottom line profits of £2.3m after tax, interest, depreciation and waivers, which reportedly exceeded its expectations.

During 2011, the Group achieved its target of paying down its debt by £10.3m (to £92.3m) in line with its scheduled repayments, following investments of more than £150m in state-of-the-art facilities and upgrades in the last eight years.

Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive, The Jockey Club, said: ‘British racing is on the up and I’m very pleased The Jockey Club continues to be our sport’s commercial powerhouse, working hard to generate increased profits so we can put more back in. The growth in interest in British racing is reflected in our Group business performance. By working hard to meet and exceed our targets in 2011, we were able to afford to contribute more than ever to British racing in the form of prize money, despite the challenging economic environment around us.’ ‘It’s fantastic that more people than ever watched our equine stars on course last year and in increasing numbers on television. By working together as a sport we are succeeding in broadening its appeal. Now we must keep building on these gains, because for the health and sustainability of British racing; we must be a relevant sport for generations to come.’ ‘That which we can control, I’m pleased to say, seems to be going well. However, British racing is still significantly underfunded. We need the Government to press on with a legislative framework that allows racing to receive a fair commercial return from the betting industry. While this is being worked through, we will see little benefit in the next couple of years, so it is more important than ever for The Jockey Club to perform well for the good of British racing, in order to invest the maximum possible into our sport.’

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