I met with directors at Catterick race course to discuss the key issues facing the industry and how best we can support this fantastic Yorkshire tradition. Catterick is one of the busiest race courses in the country - 28 race meetings per year put it second only to Doncaster in the quantity of races hosted. One of just two courses in Yorkshire to offer both flat and National Hunt racing, Catterick hosts meetings every month, and gets things underway as early as possible with the very first jumps gathering of the year on New Year's Day.
Horse racing is a key part of Yorkshire’s economy and culture – there are 9 top race courses which is more than any other region of the UK. By some measures, horse racing is the second best attended sport in the UK after football. Here in the constituency we are lucky to have Catterick race course and also several leading trainers based around Middleham.
Catterick is in the early stages of exciting plans to develop a flood lit, all weather race track which would be a significant attraction here in the North where these facilities are not currently available.
More broadly the industry has been grappling with the growth in offshore, online gaming. Offshore gaming companies were not liable for the Horseracing Betting Levy that normal British bookmakers are. The consequence of this is less revenue for the industry to support its future development.
The Levy is out of date and needs reform. The Government’s recent Autumn Statement confirmed plans to change the Levy to a “Racing Right” which is a fairer framework that will provide the horseracing industry a sustainable funding mechanism.