BHA launches Horseracing Bettors Forum

22 Jun 2015 Financial/Political

  • Forum to provide platform for views concerning the nine million individuals who bet on British Racing each year
  • Simon Rowlands appointed as first Forum Chair
  • Applications invited to fill up to seven other Forum places 

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) today publishes details of a new Horseracing Bettors Forum, which will allow people who bet on British Racing to provide the BHA with constructive suggestions about how the sport can develop and change, for the benefit of the betting public.

The purpose of the Forum is to deliver proposals and recommendations to the BHA and the BHA Racing and Betting Group for developments to British Racing that would be of benefit to the wider community that bets on British Racing. It will also consider any proposals provided to it by the BHA for feedback on how they would be received by people betting on British Racing.

The Forum will consist of up to eight individuals with a demonstrable history of interest and involvement in betting on British Racing. The first Chair of the Forum will be Simon Rowlands, the current Head of Research and Development for global horseracing data analysts Timeform. The Chair role will rotate on a two-year rolling basis.

The remainder of the Forum will be appointed by the BHA in consultation with the Chair, and the BHA are inviting applications from appropriate individuals. Anyone who feels that they could make a valued contribution to British Racing should contact [email protected] with an outline of their credentials for membership of the Forum (for more details see Notes to Editors).

The Forum will meet on a quarterly basis and discuss topics such as the Fixture List and race programme, data and information provided to those betting on British Racing, the Betting products available on the sport and any other innovations that the Forum believes would be of benefit to British Racing.

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:

“There are nine million people who bet on British Racing each year. They are an essential part of our sport and as such it is vital that the needs and wishes of those individuals – who are stakeholders in the industry – are properly considered. That is the purpose of this Forum.

“These are important times for the Industry as, at the same time as we move closer to signing the Members Agreement which will see the formal tripartite structure between the BHA, Horsemen and Racecourses formalised, the Betting Public will be given a formal route of communication into the BHA for the first time.

“While the body won’t be representative as such, it will act as a valuable consultative group and be a vehicle by which the Betting public can tell us what they want from the sport and advise us on how certain developments may affect them. We are seeking to identify a group of people with diverse interests in betting on British Racing so that it is capable of considering a wide range of relevant topics.

“One of the three key aims of our Industry Growth Strategy is to reverse the slow decline in betting on British Racing, and to achieve 5% growth on 2014 participation levels by 2020. Being in tune with betting consumers is important to our cause.

“In Simon Rowlands we have the ideal Chair and we have enjoyed working with him on developing the Terms of Reference for the Forum. We’re looking forward to getting started and we’re ready to start recruiting the other Forum members. As such, we invite anyone who has strong views, ideas and a passion for British Racing and the time to meet once every three months, to make an application and have a chance to be involved in something genuinely new and exciting, for the good of our sport.”

Simon Rowlands, Chair of the Horseracing Betting Forum, said:

“I am delighted to be asked to play a leading role in this initiative, the like of which I have recommended previously. I see the Forum as working towards a better future for bettors on horseracing and for the sport itself – the two need not be mutually exclusive – but it will be concerned with general matters and not with individual disputes.

“There are some smart and knowledgeable individuals out there who can make a positive difference if they wish to become involved. The emphasis will be on bringing a fresh and independent approach to the task in hand, and on understanding the needs and wishes of the betting public, rather than on pursuing personal agendas”

The BHA has recently formed a Racing & Betting Group, consisting of senior representatives from the betting and racing industries. It is intended that the Racing & Betting Group shall consider any relevant ideas provided by the Forum. It shall also use the Forum as an outlet for testing ideas generated elsewhere.

Notes to Editors:

1. Applicants to join the Forum should be made via email to [email protected]. Applicants should provide a short overview of their biography, contact details and reasons why they feel they should be appointed to the Forum. The closing date for applications is 31 July.

Forum members shall serve for an initial term of up to three years. It is anticipated that Forum members shall not serve for more than two terms. The Forum will meet on a quarterly basis.

Forum members shall be expected to contribute to Forum discussions on a strictly independent basis. Any conflicts of interest must be declared prior to joining the Forum, and at each subsequent meeting.

The Chair may invite other individuals to contribute to Forum discussions at his discretion, subject to any conflicts of interest being identified and acknowledged by the Forum in respect of any discussions such individuals engage in.

Forum members and the Chair shall be reimbursed any expenses reasonably incurred on Forum business, but shall otherwise receive no remuneration from the BHA relating to Forum membership.

The BHA shall provide administrative and secretarial assistance to the Forum, but attendance at Forum meetings shall be at the discretion and invitation of the Chair.


2. Simon Rowlands biography: Simon, 52, has been a horseracing enthusiast since an early age. His first job after University was as a betting-shop manager, and he joined Timeform in 1986, progressing to Handicapper and Editorial Manager. He made most of his living from betting on horses for a few years before joining the short-lived The Sportsman newspaper as Racing Editor.

He resumed working for Timeform in 2007, first as a freelancer but more recently as Head of Research & Development, as well as being a regular and widely-read blogger. He was shortlisted for the Sports Journalists’ Association’s 2014 Specialist Correspondent, with his portfolio including investigations into starting prices, race-distance measurements and sectional timing. He has long been an advocate for the need to consider the betting public more in decision-making in horseracing.

Simon owns shares in a few racehorses in training with Jeremy Gask and works primarily from home, on the outskirts of Sheffield.