The Racehorse Owners’ Sponsorship Scheme was established back in 2004 and more than 60,000 horses have taken part in races under the scheme since then.
The Tote and Britbet, meanwhile, initially had something of an uneasy relationship, largely because of then-Tote owner Fred Done’s anger at various racecourse’s choosing to set up their own pools betting company rather than work with him at the end of his company Betfred’s exclusivity deal over the Tote.
The Tote was bought by the Alizeti Group, which had rebranded to become the UK Tote Group, in October of 2019. Britbet, meanwhile, was the pools betting company formed by 55 racecourses in the wake of the end of the pools betting deal that had seen exclusivity for it belong to Betfred. This move, therefore, represents one of the first times that the two companies have done something together in a truly public way. The pair did agree a deal in 2018 that saw them combine their operations to ensure that the main beneficiary were British racecourses.
What Is The Racehorse Owners’ Sponsorship Scheme?
Set up by the Racehorse Owners Association, the Owner Sponsorship Scheme has been in operation since 2004 and gives members the chance to remain any Value Added Tax (VAT) that is charged on purchases that they make in relation to their horse. This includes the purchase price of horses themselves as well as the associated fees. Given that the ROA believe this can result in an annual return of more than £4,000, you can see why owners might be keen to join.
The scheme had been sponsored by SIS, but they withdrew their sponsorship in 2018 and the ROA began to seek a new sponsor that summer. The Racehorse Owners Association did continue to fund the scheme and planned to do so until the 31st of December this year, but they needed outside investment in order to ensure that it would be able to carry on into 2020. Owners that are part of the scheme are able to reclaim VAT on the following:
- The Cost Of The Horse
- Training Fees
- Transport Costs
- Veterinary Fees
- Jockeys Fees
The VAT for the purchase price of the horse can be reclaimed up to three years after the purchase as long as it is 100% owned, whist the other fees can be backdated by up to six months. The scheme is important because a racehorse owner can only reclaim these things if they are sponsored.
What The Sponsorship Means
The most important thing about this news is that it means that the Racehorse Owners’ Sponsorship Scheme will continue to be funded well into 2020 and beyond. It will come into effect on the first of January 2020 and all owners that are part of the scheme will begin to carry the new Tote logo on their silks. For that reason it’s a good move for the Tote and Britbet, who are hoping to revitalise the flagging pools system at a time when a good chunk of punters are turning online to place their bets even when they’re on the course.
It also means that the ROA has been able to keep the sponsorship within the racing community, which the company’s Chief Executive, Charlie Liverton, said was something that the group was ‘keen’ to do. Given that the number of horses in training remains under threat, according to Liverton, he believes that it’s a ‘vital mechanism’ of racing and that’s why it’s so important that its future is now secure. It obviously also means that the Tote and Britbet’s working relationship can be made much clearer to the racing public who might have been a bit confused by all of the comings and goings when they were being established.
What The Companies Are Saying About It
Charlie Liverton, speaking on behalf of the Racehorse Owners Association of which he is the Chief Executive, declared it to be ‘fantastic news for racehorse owners’, saying that the ROA extends its ‘gratitude to the new team at the Tote and Britbet’ as well as the racecourse partners that they’re working with. He said that their ‘coming together’ was a good thing for what he, rather obviously, considers to be an ‘important scheme’. He said that they’re pleased to be working with them both ‘as they develop the pool betting experience for racing fans’.
The Chief Executive of the UK Tote Group, Alex Frost, was similarly effusive about the whole enterprise. Unsurprisingly he’s keen to revitalise the reputation of the Tote in the racing world after many were suspicious that Fred Done only bought it in the first place in order to get his hands on the physical high street shops that were associated with it. They had been keen for SIP, a rival bidder, to win, so there’s still plenty of work to do in order to ensure that racecourses begin to trust the Tote again. He said:
“We are committed to ensuring the Tote makes a positive contribution to British racing”.
Frost went on to say that the owners are the lifeblood of the racing industry, declaring them to be ‘absolutely crucial’ to the sport’s future success. He said:
“We are delighted to be able to work with our racecourse partners Britbet to support this important scheme. We look forward to seeing the new brand across owners’ silks next year while we continue our plans to rejuvenate the Tote”.
That was a sentiment backed up by the Managing Director of Britbet, Nigel Roddis. He declared that the Racehorse Owners’ Sponsorship Scheme is a ‘critically important scheme for the whole sport’, going on to say that the racecourses that make up the Britbet partnership are ‘pleased to be able to support it’.
He also pointed out that getting more horses into the competitive world is as important to bookmakers as it is to the sport itself, saying:
“Field sizes are key to betting revenues, so it makes sense for our racecourse partners to provide this support for owners”