After registering record financials in 2012, the British Jockey Club plans to launch a retail bond for the first time.
The Jockey Club on April 24 announced its best set of financial results ever, including record turnover of £150.3 million ($229.4 million in United States funds), operating profits of £19.8 million ($30.2 million), and contribution to prize money of £16.5 million ($25.1 million). It used them as the springboard to launch the first ever retail bond in British sport, 'The Jockey Club Racecourse Bond.'
Senior steward Nicholas Wrigley said that following the strong commercial performance, the Jockey Club was looking for ways to invest more in the sport.
"Strong commercial performance allows us to reinvest even more into British racing," Wrigley said in a release. "I'm delighted we continue to make a telling contribution across the sport, drive innovation where it makes sense, and provide the stage for nearly two million people a year to enjoy themselves watching the world's finest racehorses.
"On behalf of the stewards I'd like to commend (group executive chief) Simon Bazalgette, his management team, and all those working within The Jockey Club for their achievements in 2012. We exist solely for the good of British racing, with a vision for Britain to be the best in the world for the next 50 years and beyond."
Bazalgette said the improved numbers followed increased attendance.
"I'm delighted we've been able to buck the trend with record financial results and make 2012 the year we contributed more to the people at the center of our sport than ever before through prize money," Bazalgette said in a statement. "Our biggest racing festivals have never been bigger, while average attendances at Jockey Club racecourses grew, more horses trained on our gallops at Newmarket and Lambourn, and The National Stud welcomed growth in stallion nominations, boarding, and sales."
Over the course of 2012, The Jockey Club's group turnover increased 8% to a record £150.3 million ($229.4 million), which helped to deliver record group operating profits up 3% year-on-year.
The Jockey Club's record level of business performance and reinvestment through prize money was achieved despite staging 29 fewer fixtures, including losing 26 to bad weather during the second wettest year on record; stiff competition from within the sports and leisure sector, including from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the 2012 UEFA European Championships; and no resurgence in the UK economy.
Growth was driven by record crowds at Jockey Club Racecourses' major festivals, including 236,700 at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival, 154,000 people at the 2012 John Smith's Grand National Meeting, and more than 130,000 for the Investec Derby Festival; a 12.7% increase in revenues from the non-racing use of its venues (£22 million, $33.6 million) for conferences and other events; and a 30% turnover increase at The National Stud.
The Jockey Club's mission is to act for the good of British racing, including investing all profits back into the sport. During 2012, the group made its largest ever contribution to prize money from its own resources of £16.5 million ($25.1 million). This represented more than 60% of its budgeted profits and 47% of the total prize money distributed by its 15 courses last year. For 2013, Jockey Club Racecourses will increase its prize money contribution by £2.1 million to £18.6 million ($28.4 million), subject to fixture cancellations.
In 2012, The Jockey Club also continued to pay down its debt—by £6.1 million ($9.3 million) to £86.2 million ($131.6 million) by year-end in line with its repayment schedule, after investments of more than £155 million ($236.7 million) in facilities over the past 10 years. The group invested £6.2 million ($9.5 million) in facilities across its racecourse estate and a further £0.5 million ($760,000) on the Long Gallop at its Lambourn Training Grounds.
"We also used 2012 to prepare for the future, with a new regional management structure for our racecourse arm already improving performance and reducing costs in 2013," Bazalgette said. "We need to keep working hard to offer our customers value for money, but the outlook ahead looks promising and we've committed to putting a record amount back into the sport this year.
"We recently announced plans for an exciting £45 million ($68.7 million) development project at our flagship Cheltenham Racecourse. As part of its funding we are offering a unique investment opportunity through The Jockey Club Racecourse Bond, which should appeal for its generous cash interest, rewards to enjoy a day at the races, and the chance to support Britain's second biggest sport.
"Launching the first retail bond in British sport is a win-win for all; a highly-efficient means for us to raise capital, while also getting closer than ever before to our customers. I hope to report on its success in due course."
The Jockey Club announced the launch of the first ever retail bond offering in British sport. 'The Jockey Club Racecourse Bond is a five-year initial term investment opportunity available to the general public via http://www.racecoursebond.com/ to invest sums between £2,000 and £100,000, which will pay 7.75% gross interest per annum.
Paul Fisher, group managing director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said:
"Several million people every year enjoy a day at the races, whether you are lifelong fan of the sport or just love a great day out. Our Racecourse Bond offers you generous cash returns at a time of rock-bottom interest rates, with a racing rewards element that can pay for your racing experience at any of our 15 courses nationwide.
"The money we raise from The Jockey Club Racecourse Bond will go straight into British racing through the iconic £45 million development we are planning at Cheltenham Racecourse, so if you take up the bond, you get a generous return and you will be making a difference to our fantastic and growing sport."