George Kerevan, MP for East Lothian, has taken the lead in reviving the Friends of Scottish Racing group at Westminster to promote Scottish racecourses, including Kelso.
This week he chaired the inaugural meeting in Portcullis House, Westminster, with representatives of the industry.
Friends of Scottish Racing will support the five Scottish racecourses – Ayr, Hamilton Park, Kelso, Musselburgh and Perth. Racing generates £270 million a year for the Scottish economy, supports around 4,000 jobs and attracted almost 300,000 racegoers last year. Together the racecourses stage over 100 fixtures a year, 27 of which are at Musselburgh.
Commenting after the briefing, Mr Kerevan said: “I am honoured to take on the Chair of Friends of Scottish Racing.
“Kelso Racecourse is a huge asset to the Borders economy and sustains hundreds of jobs. It also offers a great day out. We hope that the revival of the Friends organisation will lead to increased revenue and good publicity for the region.”
“The British Horseracing Authority, under which the five Scottish racecourses operate, is at a financial crossroads owing to its outdated funding regime, the Horserace Betting Levy, first introduced in the 1960s. With so much betting done now on the Internet, there has been a significant fall in the cash available for prizes that comes in via the Levy. As a result, Scottish courses and races are under threat. We badly need a new source of funding for the industry.
“The introduction of a new Horserace Betting Right would certainly provide a solution to that situation by ensuring that the whole betting industry paid its fair share into the prize pot for courses. But we need the new legislation in place as soon as possible if Scottish racing is not to suffer.
“HBR has already received cross-bench support in both Houses of Parliament and received a mention in both the March and July 2015 budget statements. It is my hope that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will proceed swiftly with this piece of primary legislation and therefore ensure that racecourses will continue to enhance their presence in rural communities and boost economies across Scotland.”