The Plus 10 bonus scheme for owners and breeders has passed a major milestone with bonus payments reaching the £8 million mark.
Since March 2015, when the first bonuses were offered on British and Irish racecourses, a total of 800 individual owners and breeders have collected a bonus thanks to the scheme. The addition of a £10,000 Plus 10 bonus has in many cases at least doubled first-place prize money, providing a significant return early in a horse’s career and an incentive to trainers to target Plus 10 races.
As industry support has grown, the scheme has recorded a 10 per cent uplift in the number of qualifying two-year-olds. With just a couple of two-year-old Plus 10 races to be held on the all-weather before the end of the year, the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) racing team has reported that the field sizes of races which feature a Plus 10 bonus outperform equivalent races by five per cent.
In 2016, almost 40 Plus 10 races were divided due to the number of declared runners. Racecourses have also catered to demand for Plus 10 by lifting prize money to upgrade races to qualify for a bonus. This has resulted in an expansion of the scheme from its original size of 550 races to 600 races.
BHA Chief Operating Officer Richard Wayman said: “Plus 10 has proved very effective at significantly boosting returns to owners, contributing more than £8 million in bonus payments over the past twenty months. It has also had a positive impact on the average field sizes of races within the scheme. The introduction of three-year-old races within Plus 10 was an important step earlier this year and, with almost £600,000 paid out to successful three-year-olds since March, the scheme is appealing to owners and breeders of a variety of horses, including those who are likely to need more time to develop.”
With further racecourses exploring options to upgrade races to qualify for a bonus, the likelihood of more races dividing in subsequent years, and the impact of an increased number of novice contests for two-year-olds, the Plus 10 committee has proposed a rule change to ensure the scheme can continue to operate successfully within its available resources.
Subject to BHA Board and Rule Committee approval, from 1st April 2017, the Plus 10 Committee intends to impose a limit of one bonus per horse, a change that will secure the future of the scheme but with limited effect on stakeholders. Of the 759 individual horses which have won a bonus since 2015, only six per cent collected a second or third bonus.
Plus 10 Chairman Julian Richmond-Watson said: “Plus 10 is achieving its aims of encouraging investment in bloodstock, stimulating racehorse ownership and incentivising owners to run their horses more often.
“Because of its success, we are introducing this small change which we consider to be the least impactful to all stakeholders in Plus 10, to ensure the scheme operates at a sustainable level in the future.
“While qualifying horses will no longer be able to win a second bonus, this is offset by improved opportunities to win as more races qualify for a bonus, thereby maintaining the broad scope of the scheme across two and three-year-old races, with large numbers of owners and breeders remaining beneficiaries.”
As a truly joint scheme, which recognises the significant links between the British and Irish industries and supports those operations which operate across both countries, the rule change will also apply in Ireland.
Horse Racing Ireland Director of Racing, Jason Morris said: “Limiting the number of bonuses a horse can win will mean the maximum possible number of individual horses, and therefore owners and breeders, benefiting from the scheme going forwards.
“The rule change should also ensure a greater number of bonuses carry over for the benefit of three-year-old maidens in Ireland each year.”