Top owner threatens cutback


HAMDAN AL MAKTOUM yesterday warned of a further cutback in Arab support of British racing unless a cure is found to racing's financial ills.

The dual Derby-winning owner called for a concerted effort from administrators and bookmakers to try to sort out the problems.

Prize money is stagnating and betting turnover is dropping with the counter-attraction of the National Lottery.

"Racing is an expensive hobby, owning and breeding racehorses costs a great deal of money. No one can rely on the sport to make big profits, but you should certainly be able to hope to cover your expenses, said Sheikh Hamdan in yesterday's Gulf Today newspaper.

"We were first attracted by the traditions of British racing, plus the fact that English as a language is familiar, but you cannot go on investing all the time.

"Racing in Britain is a huge industry. Maybe a million families are reliant on the sport. That underlines the importance of a solution being found."

Sheikh Hamdan, who won the Derby with Nashwan and Erhaab, is the deputy ruler of Dubai and holds the post of Minister of Finance and Industry, making him the direct counterpart of British Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke.

But he added: "You cannot keep going back to the Government for more support.

"From my point of view I feel that the solution has to come from within the sport, between administrators and the bookmakers. The Jockey Club should find a solution.

"The bookmakers are taking their profits from racing and investing outside the sport. They have to invest further in the product which makes their money.

"From an owner's perspective, we see prize-money levels stagnating, while basic costs such as training fees, transportation and veterinary bills are all rising. The difficulties are plain to see.