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British racing authorities welcome £21m in new government support

| By Robert Fletcher
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the Racecourse Association (RCA) and The Horsemen’s Group (HG) have praised the government after an additional £21.0m (€24.6m/$28.9m) in loan funding was made available to the sport.
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Announced as part of the Sports Winter Survival Package, the funds will be lent to the Horserace Betting Levy Board to help provide costs related to race-day regulation, equine welfare and industry training, as the industry continues its recovery from the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The three racing organisations had been in discussions with Sport England and the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) about new funding since the Survival Package was announced in November last year.

The authorities said that HBLB should benefit from loan funds because of its role in providing central funding to support race-day and other industry costs.

Racing has suffered significant losses over the past 12 months as spectators have not been able to attend race meetings due to Covid-19 restrictions. Fans could be permitted back into racecourses from 17 May, in line with the government’s plan to exit lockdown and the loan funds will help fill the gap in revenue until then.

No changes are expected to the HBLB’s plan for funding race-days and prize money until the end of June.

The racing industry has already benefited from £40.0m in loan funds from the government as part of its Covid-19 recovery strategy, with the HBLB working on plans to repay all loans over a period of 10 years.

“This money will help ensure racing continues behind closed doors despite the absence of spectator revenues,” BHA chief executive Julie Harrington said. “This will benefit our racecourses, our participants and their communities, and the vital role racing plays as an employer and contributor to the rural economy.”

RCA chief executive Charlie Liverton added: “The HBLB will be the recipients of the loan and we look forward to working with them to understand how the loan can be best utilised going forward.

“The government’s Sports Winter Package has provided financial support to many sports industries over the past few months and this support to British Racing is very welcome.”

Rugby league, speedway and drag racing will also benefit from additional funds through the Sports Winter Survival Package, while the government could make more money available later in the year to impacted summer sports.

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