Bill Shankly the Scottish football manager is credited with saying “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
Having observed the river of tears flowing from Wimbledon over the last two weeks, no one could mistake the importance of winning to the participants. It was similar at my daughter’s sports day last week - the cheating that goes on in an egg and spoon race; those Mums should be ashamed of themselves!
Yes, sport can inspire us and it may even be good for our health – but it is also providing a major boost to our economy. A recent report, published by Deloitte on behalf of the British Horseracing Authority, has demonstrated that racing generates £1.1 billion of direct expenditure within our economy, plus a further £2.45 billion of indirect expenditure. The core industry employs the equivalent of 17,400 people on a full time basis and involves a wider network of 85,000 employees working in associated businesses including farriers, vets and of course betting related businesses.
Despite generating high levels of income and expenditure, very little cash actually leaves the sport in the form of profit to shareholders. While racing delivers £275 million in tax receipts every year and has invested an average of £95 million a year over the last decade in capital projects, just £12 million per annum is distributed through dividends or share buy-backs. That’s less than 1% of the industry’s cash inflows.
Horseracing is comfortably the second-most-attended spectator sport in Britain after football, stimulating around 5.6 million visits in 2012. On average each fixture attracts just over 4,050 racegoers, although here at Cartmel the combined appeal of our scenic surroundings and Bank Holiday fixtures has attracted an average of more than 9,700 per day over the last ten years.
While 5% of British racegoers stay overnight as part of their trip nationally, at Cartmel the percentage can often exceed 25% with visitors descending on the Lakes from all corners of the country and frequently overseas too. Deloitte estimate that the secondary spend of racing's consumers including travel, accommodation and associated activities is worth more than £1.2 billion to Britain every year - good news for Cartmel's accommodation providers, retailers and restauranteurs.
We’re just over two weeks away from our most valuable fixture of the year, when we're looking forward to welcoming another large crowd, but Sandown stage their biggest day on Saturday. I am anticipating Al Kazeem to confirm his recent Royal Ascot form with Mukhadram to win the £425,000 Coral Eclipse Stakes. I just hope that the jockey isn’t caught holding the egg on the spoon with his finger.