HBLB And Racing Foundation Raise £22m Hardship Fund

The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) and the Racing Foundation have launched a £22 million ‘hardship fund’ which supports horseracing stakeholders affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

The newly appointed Levy Board serves as a statutory non-departmental body responsible for collecting and managing UK racing funds through betting taxes, fundraising and other on-course events.

The Racing Foundation’s counterpart acts as the organisation responsible for administering grants assigned to vitally significant racing disciplines such as preparation, animal care, heritage preservation and scientific research.

The organisations launched their hardship fund this weekend, with the ‘objective to providing timely funds where it is most needed.’

The Levy Board and Racing Foundation, operating in a time of crisis, have decided to assign crucial funds to essential racecourse, equine and staff areas that hold the lifeblood of UK racing.

The Levy Board, in support of racecourses, will sanction advance payments of raceday grants at £12,500 per event, enabling racecourse owners to demand from the fund up to eight 2020 repairs.

The Levy Board has provided £7.5 m to be made available to racecourse owners, who will be able to secure £200,000 each for emergency loans. The loans will bear a four-year repayment schedule beginning in 2021, with the Levy Board outlining the implementation of a limit on ‘racecourse categories.’

The Levy Board and Racing Foundation, operating in a time of crisis, have decided to assign crucial funds to essential racecourse, equine and staff areas that hold the lifeblood of UK racing.

The Levy Board, in support of racecourses, will sanction advance payments of raceday grants at £12,500 per event, enabling racecourse owners to demand from the fund up to eight 2020 repairs.

The Levy Board has provided £7.5 m to be made available to racecourse owners, who will be able to secure £200,000 each for emergency loans. The loans will bear a four-year repayment schedule beginning in 2021, with the Levy Board outlining the implementation of a limit on ‘racecourse groups.’

Chairman of the Levy Board Paul Darling said: “The Board has agreed to make available significant sums to racecourses through a combination of measures that will meet the demand for cash in the short-term. Importantly, this approach preserves further Levy funds that we know will be needed for prize money when racing resumes.

“It is certain that the Levy Board will have a major role at that stage and beyond. Negotiating the many challenges ahead of us all will require exceptional co-operation between every sector. Those challenges can only be met if British racing and the betting industry work in partnership and the Levy Board will play a full and active part in ensuring that this happens.”

Meanwhile, the Racing Foundation has set up an £8 million emergency grant fund to help equine and welfare workers in the UK racing industry.

Stakeholders in the racing welfare sector will have access to a £750,000 poverty grant scheme, helping to sustain equine support services and resources.

Along with the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), the Racing Foundation has set up a £2.5 million ‘welfare relief fund’ which will cover the expenses and services of racehorse owners following the postponement of the race season.

Noting that many ‘self-employed’ jockeys and trainers will struggle to claim on the SEISS programme of the government, the Racing Foundation will launch a £900,000 ‘jockey hardship program.’

In addition, the Racing Foundation will match the employee support programme of the UK government with additional funds of £2.8 million, with grants made available through the National Trainers Association (NTA) and the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA).

Racing Foundation Chairman Ian Barlow commented: “The funding requests we have received are varied and we want to take an approach which can help alleviate the immediate hardship being felt by the sport’s people, horses, businesses and charities. Through close and continued collaboration both organisations will seek to meet the immediate hardship needs presented to us and ensure necessary funds are in place to commence racing and support the sport in the months ahead.”