Photographer: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Britain's 267-Year-Old Racing Institution Makes Record Sales

  • The Jockey Club said its profits rose to 22.6 million pounds
  • Group owns rights to Grand National, Cheltenham and Derby

The Jockey Club, which for more than 250 years has managed and operated some of the U.K.’s most prestigious racecourses and horse races, said sales and profits reached record levels in 2016.

Revenue at the 267-year-old not-for-profit group, which stages events including the Grand National, Cheltenham Festival and Epsom Derby, rose 4.5 percent to 191.5 million pounds ($245.4 million), an eighth successive increase. Operating profit advanced 3.2 percent to 22.6 million pounds, all of which is plowed back into racing.

“It is fantastic to stage events that see the best horses and the experiences we offer bringing enjoyment to so many millions of people each year,” said Simon Bazalgette, the group’s chief executive officer. “That helped make 2016 a good year financially and meant we were able to support our sport even more than the year before.”

Attendances at the Jockey Club’s courses, which include Aintree, Cheltenham and Newmarket, home to the National Stud, were the second largest in the organization’s history, with 1.92 million people attending 333 race days.

This year, the group has started a new domestic broadcasting contract with ITV Plc, seeking to boost viewing figures for the sport. So far, results have been mixed. This year’s Grand National audience peaked at 8.2 million, 18 percent lower than the high of 10 million when it was broadcast by Channel 4 in 2016. However, the channel is still establishing itself as the home of racing in the U.K. and there are several top races to come.

The Jockey Club contributed more than 20 million pounds to the industry’s 2016 prize money, about 70 percent more than it paid out in 2009. Prize money paid out at its 15 courses totaled 43.6 million pounds, or an average of 131,000 pounds per fixture.

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