Racing UK, the racing broadcaster, is launching a new £10m season-long competition to crown the champion British racehorse. The Sovereign Series will begin in 2010, with extensive broadcast and commercial agreements planned.
The competition is intended to broaden the appeal of horse racing in the face of increasing competition from other sports. It aims to link a number of flat races into a competition and will run throughout the flat racing season to maintain intereste from viewers.
Racing UK has joined forces with Ascot to drive the initiative. The channel will be promoting and managing the collective broadcast and multimedia rights for the series.
The move will link ten prestigious races, among them, The Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and The Stan James 2,000 Guineas. It also involves seven of the country’s leading racecourses; Newmarket, Newbury, Epsom, Sandown, Goodwood, York and Ascot. The competition has received the backing of the British Horseracing Authority, as well as owners, trainers and jockeys.
The series will run for initial three years and an additional pot of £5m per annum has been added to the existing £5m prize money for the races with a £2m prize for the overall winner. A further £3m has been allocated to marketing, promoting and producing the series.
Racing UK chief executive Simon Bazalgette says he believes the Sovereign Series will capture the imagination of sports fans and create a new proposition for broadcasters and sponsors.
Racing UK, available via subscription-only or as part of a Setanta Sports package, is wholly owned by 30 of the UK’s racecourses. The group also set up Turf TV, the betting shop broadcaster, which is currently embroiled in a legal wrangle with bookmakers over broadcast rights to betting shops.