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Newbury chief executive responds to final race withdrawal

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Julian Thick, chief executive of Newbury Racecourse, has this afternoon responded to the declaration that none of the 13 entries for Saturday's final race, the Stonegate Homes Fillies' Novice Stakes, will run.

Trainer Ralph Beckett, president of the National Trainers' Federation, cited "derisory" prize money as the reason behind the withdrawal.

The 10-furlong race had a prize pot of £6,500, which was increased from £5,300 on Monday.

Racing at Newbury
Racing at Newbury

That's in contrast to the afternoon's feature race, the Weatherbys Super Sprint, which carries a prize fund of £200,000.

Thick said: "It is hard to imagine this isn't a concerted action with a race that had 13 entries from 10 different stables receiving no declarations.

"It's particularly disappointing for our racegoers to only have six races to enjoy on Saturday afternoon with over £400,000 of prize money on offer.

"Newbury has always had a portfolio of races run at different values and aimed at different types of horses throughout the year, this year is no different.

"As an independent PLC we are transparent about our prize money strategy and our finances and have an ongoing dialogue about this with the National Trainers' Federation.

"We have to run the racecourse on a sustainable basis and we have committed to return to overall 2019 prize money levels this year, despite having lost £2.4 million in 2020 and barely breaking even last year as a result of Covid.

"With all the revenue uncertainty and the rising cost pressures racecourses are facing at this current time, we believe that's a substantial commitment by our shareholders.

Julian Thick
Julian Thick

"Looking at our forecast for 2022, we will be putting up £2.5 million in executive contribution to prize money this year, which is the largest amount the racecourse has ever committed to.

"We have recently publicly announced an increase in prize money levels when our new media contract comes into effect next year, committing a minimum of 40% of total media revenues to our prize money for the next three years.

"As a PLC our total media revenues and profits are always fully disclosed unlike most other racecourses, giving full transparency so there can be no misunderstanding about our commitment.

"Given this background, it's disappointing this has happened and at a time when the industry needs to pull together."

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