BHA aims to strengthen collaboration with the racing industry

26 Feb 2019 BHA Features Financial/Political

The British Horseracing Authority is today announcing plans to increase industry involvement on its Board.

The move is part of an initiative to improve BHA decision-making, including the way in which it consults the racing industry and external bodies, and to strengthen collaboration with the sport’s leadership and the racing industry.

It follows a review by the BHA’s members, the Racecourse Association, and the three organisations representing the horsemen, the Racehorse Owners Association, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and the Licensed Personnel.

The BHA’s function as the sport’s governing body and regulator, working alongside the horsemen and racecourses in the tripartite leadership of British racing, is based on the Members’ Agreement signed in 2015.

The specific changes announced today include;

  • Changes to the composition of the BHA Board
  • The new Board will be comprised of the Chairman and Chief Executive, four independent Directors and four Directors nominated by the RCA and the Horsemen
  • Further work will be carried out with the members on how the BHA consults the industry on key proposals which affect them
  • This will include ensuring decisions taken by BHA committees allow for views from the industry to be fully represented
  • The BHA and members will review other aspects of the Members Agreement
  • External bodies will be asked to contribute views on their involvement in consultations where this is appropriate

The objective of the members’ review was to increase industry involvement in key decisions which affect the sport while retaining the independence of the BHA Board on regulatory and integrity matters.

Over the next few months, the BHA will consult with specific industry groups on how their views can inform decision-making. It will conduct a similar consultation with external bodies.

David Armstrong, the new Chief Executive of the RCA, has joined the BHA Board ahead of its next meeting in February. Maggie Carver, Chair of the RCA, and the President of the Racehorse Owners Association, Nicholas Cooper, will join the Board in March. A process is underway to appoint a new Chair for the BHA Board.

The BHA has already announced plans to create a new cross-industry Equine Welfare Board under an independent Chair.  This group will bring together a range of views and agree a strategy spanning the industry. A process is underway to appoint an independent Chair of the Equine Welfare Board.   The changes announced today do not alter the BHA’s status as the autonomous regulator of equine welfare.

The BHA’s Chair, Atholl Duncan, said;

‘We believe it is essential to develop a more collaborative relationship across the sport while maintaining the BHA’s independence from participants on integrity and regulatory matters.

 “The changes which we’ve agreed with the racecourses and horsemen strike the right balance between industry involvement and maintaining a robust independence in our decision-making.

 “I would like this to signal the start of a new era of better working together across the sport.”

RCA Chair, Maggie Carver said;

We believe that these changes will bring greater involvement from across the sport into the heart of the BHA’s decisions while maintaining its independence in the areas where that is essential.”

Julian Richmond-Watson

The Chair of the TBA, Julian Richmond-Watson, who represented the horsemen on the Members’ Review said;

The regulation and governance of our sport has been continually evolving over the years and we believe that it is a natural and appropriate next step in the development of the BHA to make these changes to how our governing and regulatory body operates.”

 The Members’ Review took into consideration an independent review of the BHA’s governance commissioned by the BHA and completed in 2018. This was conducted by the city law-firm Slaughter & May. This review recommended re-examining the BHA’s processes for consulting on regulatory decision-making as well as a series of measures aimed at improving the BHA’s effectiveness as the sport’s governing body and regulator.

After consultation with its members, the BHA Board decided not to accept a recommendation to make the Board completely independent. The Board felt that its leadership role within the tripartite structure required greater industry involvement, not less.  As recent events have demonstrated, the BHA’s effectiveness as governing body and regulator depends upon a close relationship with all parts of the sport.

Additional recommendations will be discussed with members before reaching a decision, whilst potential changes to internal BHA policies will be discussed with staff before implementation. The   independent review by Slaughter and May will be published when this has been completed.

The Chief Executive of Hamilton Park racecourse, Vivien Currie, and the Chief Executive of British Cycling, Julie Harrington, are leaving the Board after completing their terms of office. BHA Chair Atholl Duncan said;

“We’re hugely grateful for the contributions made by Vivien and Julie in their time on the BHA Board. Their extensive experience of racing and other sports has proved incredibly valuable and we look forward to their continuing success”.