Perth Hunt Club is in advanced discussions with Scone Estates on a transformational deal over Perth Racecourse which would increase investment in the venue, secure jobs and guarantee the continuation of racing for “the next 100 years”.
The proposal, if accepted, would see all current Perth Hunt Club debts paid off, a new company set up by Scone Estates to run Perth Racecourse and hotel supported by a 10-year investment plan, all staff retaining employment and enhanced benefits for annual members.
Earlier this year the Perth Hunt, which since 1908 has run racing successfully on parkland leased from Scone Estates, had initiated discussions over a desire to modernise the Club’s governance structure and incorporate (it is currently an unincorporated association – unique within UK racecourses). The current lease with Scone Estates runs to 2036 but with a break clause in 2026.
At the same time as the racecourse was looking at incorporating The Perth Hunt Club to a limited company and reviewing the ongoing management structure, Scone Estates came forward with its own proposal to safeguard the future of horse racing in Perth by bringing it into the fold of Scone Estates masterplan which encompasses events, leisure and tourism.
Discussions around that proposal have since been advanced positively with Heads of Terms now being finalised. Due diligence will be essential, which typically takes some time, and negotiations are still to be concluded. During this process, which will be dealt with accurately and as swiftly as possible, it should be understood that information will be of a sensitive nature with a further announcement to be made when appropriate.
Details on the proposal shall be presented to Perth Hunt Club members at their next meeting, an AGM, on July 18, with a view to a vote on the proposal once due diligence is completed.
Perth Racecourse CEO Hazel Peplinski said: “Scone Estates has committed to investing in the racecourse on a scale that is currently out of reach for The Perth Hunt Club – a truly transformational opportunity. By wrapping the racecourse management into the larger entity of Scone Estates, this would insulate the racecourse against the various economic headwinds such as a possible recession, cost of living crisis and various specific challenges within the horse-racing industry, such as the Gambling Review and racing industry rules-driven capital expenditure. As a landowner that also focuses on tourism and leisure, Scone Estates can realise efficiencies and synergies for the racecourse which The Perth Hunt Club as a separate tenant could not.
“The discussions thus far have been entirely positive, and the proposal presented represents a hugely exciting opportunity for Perth Racecourse’s future, which we are now pleased to share and take forward with the Perth Hunt Club membership with a vote as per our constitution. I am due to step down as the CEO at the end of this year and to secure the racecourse’s future in this way would be very fulfilling for me personally. Perth is a wonderful racecourse and deserves nothing less.”
The Mansfield Family has plans to improve the experience of those current Perth members who will become Annual Members of the new Racecourse Club, as it recognises that the 250+ current membership is an essential part of the continued tradition of racing at Perth.
The Earl of Mansfield said: “Our family have supported horse racing in Perth for 400 years. The racecourse moved to Scone Parklands in 1908 and is a sporting venue we are very proud to be associated with. Our proposal for the Perth Hunt is borne from a desire to invest and enhance racing in Perth. The independence of Perth racing is important to us, as is maintaining the current racing programme both in quality, and number of days.
“We want to assure the members that we are committed to maintaining and growing the membership scheme which we know is a very important aspect of their enjoyment of racing. A successful and vibrant Perth Racecourse, like Scone Palace, is vital to the economic success of Perth. Working with the existing team we will grow and enhance racing in Perth and secure it for the next 100 years.”