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angle-left Horse Races S.A.: Developments around Greek horse races

Horse Races S.A.: Developments around Greek horse races

Horse Races S.A. announces that the organization and conduct of Greek horse races is ceased as of 30 January 2024, since – in accordance with the Concession Agreement – the average number of registered horses in Greek Jockey Club has been below 300 over the last two consecutive years. In addition, the company exercises its contractual right to terminate the Lease Agreement for the Athens Hippodrome at Markopoulo. The property will be officially handed back to its owner (ODIE S.A. under special liquidation) within a period of two months.


Greek horseracing activity has been a hugely loss-making business for decades. Despite the significant and long-term efforts by Horse Races S.A. since it took over this activity in 2016, and the company’s continuous major investments, Greek horse races remained a loss-making and unsustainable business. As a matter of fact, the total losses incurred by the company, from 2016 to 2023, reach €100.3 million.


Horse Races S.A. has done everything in its powers to overturn the negative situation it undertook, making every reasonable and best effort to keep Greek horseracing activity alive and develop it. In fact, since 2016, Horse Races S.A. has invested over €32 million to develop an attractive proposition, significantly exceeding its contractual obligations in several areas.


Among other things, Horse Races S.A. upgraded and maintained the Markopoulo facilities. For several years, it provided increased prizes, which were more than double compared to its contractual obligations, and many incentives to horse owners, including horse auctions and favorable loans for the purchase of horses by owners.


Moreover, it established procedures and adopted international standards and best practices to increase races’ transparency, integrity, and competitiveness. It also modernized the betting product and expanded its availability across OPAP’s retail network, while implementing extensive marketing, advertising, public relations and promotional activities to improve the image of Greek horse races and attract new audiences and customers.


Unfortunately, Greek horse races and betting on Greek races kept declining significantly, leading to an irreversible situation, something also proven by the dramatically diminishing horse population. The current number of active horses in Markopoulo reaches 172 and thus, there is a lack of conditions to secure the proper conduct and competitiveness of races.


With a sense of responsibility towards its employees and professionals directly related with horse races (i.e. active jockeys and exercise riders), which totally reach 75 people, Horse Races S.A. will take care of mitigating the impact of these developments on them. 


Specifically, for the employees of Horse Races S.A., the company will deploy a mix of support measures, based on their employment status (permanent or part-time). For the active jockeys and exercise riders, the company will provide compensation reflecting their past year activities, as well as one-year private health insurance for free. 


Furthermore, the well-being of horses in the Markopoulo facilities remains a priority for the company. In this framework, horse owners will be allowed to keep their horses in the stables for free for a period of one month. Additionally, with regards to the transportation of horses to other safe venues within the Greek territory, Horse Races S.A. will subsidize part of the transport costs for owners with up to 5 horses.


More details about these actions will be shared by the company with all interested parties in due time.


Horse Races S.A. has already informed all stakeholders involved with the Concession Agreement, the Lease Agreement and Greek horse races about these developments. For customers and agents, it is clarified that the company continues to normally offer mutual betting on foreign horse races (UK, France, and South Africa) through the OPAP stores network.

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