Racing: Small tracks in peril

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The Independent Online
RACING'S PAYMASTERS yesterday called into question the future of some of Britain's smaller courses. Rodney Brack, chief executive of the Levy Board which largely funds the sport, suggested that the likes of Folkestone, Hexham and Southwell could be "heading for the exit".

He was speaking after publication of "merit tables" which determine Levy Board basic prize-money contributions for 2000. The tables reflect each course's average input to prize money from its executive and sponsorship for the last three years. Ascot tops the Flat table and Aintree the jumps version.

Brack is happy that the Board's incentive scheme appears to be working, with all bar four of the 35 Flat courses improving their performance since last year and 31 of the 42 jumps tracks doing the same.

But he said: "The position of those courses at the foot of the tables is a cause for concern. Will they bounce back or are they heading for the exit?"

Folkestone and Southwell occupied the last two places in the Flat table - as they did last year - while Hexham and Folkestone were again in the bottom two over jumps.

"If you look at the top of the table you can see contributions improving every year and they are thriving businesses," Brack said.

"But at the other end it is a pretty sorry sight. The total are minuscule sums - there is a very small addition to prize-money from courses and sponsorship so owners are basically racing for their own money."