How Does the Prize Money in Greyhound Racing Compare to Horse Racing?

It would be fair to say that most racehorse and greyhound owners get into the game simply because they love the sport and the animals that compete in them. But the subject of prize money does come up on a regular basis.

The BHA and the GBGB (Greyhound Board of Great Britain) have both made attempts to increase the funds that owners are competing for, so how does the prize money in greyhound racing compare to that of horse racing?

Derby Days

The most prestigious day on the British and Irish greyhound racing calendar is the English Greyhound Derby.

The event, held annually at the renovated Towcester track, is the one greyhound race that attracts both passionate fans of the sport and more casual observers — punters are also more likely to get involved with a flutter or two.

Indeed, the greyhound racing betting odds for the Derby are published months in advance of the race, with Links Maverick (16/1), De Lahdedah (20/1) and Ballinakil Alf (25/1) installed as the ante post favourites for the 2024 edition.

For dog owners, the Derby is also the richest prize available on UK soil. The total prize fund was £235,000 in 2023, with £175,000 of that going to the connections of the winner.

Over in Ireland, where the sport remains incredibly popular, the Irish Greyhound Derby takes precedence. In 2023, the black dog The Other Kobe took the spoils, netting the €125,000 (around £108,000) top prize for owners Brian Clare and David L’Estrange from the total fund of €300,000 (£260,000).

So while victory in greyhound racing’s biggest races pays handsomely, what about in more run-of-the-mill fare? Taking a random race held at Brighton & Hove in October 2023, the winner of the 21:28 renewal took home just £145 – with those finishing lower barely scoring enough for the owners’ petrol money.

The GBGB is making attempts to increase the amount of prize money funnelling into the sport, but it’s clear – while training costs are typically lower in greyhound racing than with horses – that a love of the game is the primary motive for owning a racing dog, rather than any financial ambitions.

Slice of the Pie

There’s a similar trend in horse racing, where the top owners can expect outstanding windfalls if they can win a blue riband race – but rather less of a return for ‘everyday’ victories.

The total prize funds for the Cheltenham Gold Cup (£625,000) and Epsom Derby (£1.5 million) reveal the juicy fruits awaiting those at the top of the sport. However, the share for a handicap chase at Warwick at the start of October is much less — £5,281 to the winner, £303 to the fifth-placed finisher. This highlights the challenges that smaller training yards are facing, hence why the likes of Keith Dalgleish, Martin Smith and Paul Henderson have decided to step away from the sport.

The BHA have made moves to raise minimum prize values to enhance the financial viability of training racehorses. However, those operating on a shoestring budget are still battling rising costs and other challenges.

Both racehorse and greyhound owners and trainers are starting to feel the pinch, so increases in prize money are vital to the future of these storied sports.