Greyhound racing’s first commandment: prize money is never enough, is widely acknowledged by all sides of the sport writes editor Floyd Amphlett.
In the Star archives we can find stories going back more than 70 years where ‘undervalued’ owners and trainers have demanded increases in rewards for their runners.
A glimpse of the leading White City graded winner’s table in 1961 shows Kaytra King was the top earner with £338 10s, despite only winning seven races. Allowing for inflation, that would work out at £7,413. A modern grader racing for a full year will probably earn a third of that. Interesting, though slightly irrelevant when annual UK greyhound attendances were around 14 million.
But what of more recent times?
|Win top grade||2013||2017||2018|
Here is a quick study comparing graded prize money over the last five years. Has prize money kept up with inflation during that period? How does win money compare to ‘also rans’? I sampled nine tracks, geographically well spaced with at least one track from each of the main promoters.
Pelaw Grange is included a representative of one of the two tracks who don’t enjoy a contract with either ARC or SIS and the difficulties to compete associated with it.
The results are taken from the summer of 2013, updated to 2018, with interim results from 2017, to gauge the effect of the media rights issue.
The compilation is not an exact science. For example, Track A may claim that its A1 pays £250 but they occur so infrequently as to be irrelevant. The same goes for lower grades. It is though an honest attempt at a snap shot of the current situation.
The first table represents win prize money for the top grades. The big surprise is Henlow which has gone from £60 in 2013 to a joint top £200,
Now critics might claim that A1s aren’t regular events, though there has been one within the last week and a plethora of A2 events worth £170.
Although the newly SIS contracted Doncaster and Henlow have seen significant increases in prize money within the last year, the longer established venues such as Romford and Monmore have not.
There is another interesting factor and that is the inflation link with is a multiple of 1.12 for the five year period.
In other words, allowing for inflation alone, Belle Vue would now be paying £85.12. From £85, Swindon would be paying £95.20 etc etc.
But what of the lower grades?
|Win bottom grade||2013||2017||2018|
The big winners here are Newcastle owners with the track paying the most to the lower grade runners. The Geordies also have the smallest gap between the top dogs and the lowest graders (£19). Romford operate to a similar model (£30).
At the other end of the scale with greater differentials, are Henlow (£100) and Sheffield (£90).
Although the figures aren’t as great, Swindon low grade prize money has virtually doubled in the last five years. Pelaw’s are unaltered.
But enough of the winners, what about the ‘also-rans’, who constitute five of every six runners in a race?
Well the best place to have a dog beaten in A1 is Monmore which pays out £60, followed by Henlow and Sheffield with £50 each.
The lowest, unsurprisingly is contract-less Pelaw Grange, win Swindon and Belle Vue close up.
A majority of the tracks reward the higher grade losers more than the slower hounds, exceptions are Doncaster, Newcastle, Pelaw and Romford who pay the same across all grades.
Only Pelaw have not kept place with inflation in paying also-rans in the lower grades during the study period.
|‘Also ran’ top grade||2013||2017||2018|
One final point needs to be made in relation to prize money. In my experience it is regularly forgotten when the topic is debated. It concerns ‘additional benefits’.
For many years only the bigger tracks paid retainers to their trainers.
Now the vast majority do so, indeed it was on that basis that ARC issued contracts to hundreds of trainers attached to their contracted racecourses.
These additional benefits can be significant. I saw one earlier in the year whereby a trainer with 35 greyhounds available could expect bonus of around £2,000 per month plus between £5-£10 for every dog that went to traps.
These deals are not as transparent as prize money payments, but show that racecourses are ‘putting back’ far more to trainers than they are regularly given credit for doing.