The British Horseracing Board made a series of announcements at a media briefing given by BHB Chairman Martin Broughton and Chief Executive Greg Nichols at its headquarters in central London this morning.
• Economic Impact Study of British Racing and Breeding
The BHB Board has approved the commissioning of an Economic Impact Study to demonstrate the value of Racing and Breeding to the British economy and society. The study, to be carried out by Deloitte, will be the first of its kind for ten years and is intended to be published at BHB’s Annual Review on 8th June. Greg Nichols said: “We are seeking an authoritative financial study that will show how important our industry is to the British economy, with particular regard to the rural economy. It will be of great benefit in the sport’s representations to Government, potential sponsors and other organisations.”
• Industry Welfare Forum
Further to news in November 2005 that BHB was to put £30,000 of funding into the “Flying Physios” Scheme in 2006 and look into a wide range of aspects of welfare provision in British Racing, an Industry Welfare Forum was announced. Brough Scott, Editorial Director of the Racing Post, had agreed to Chair the Forum, which would address issues such as welfare services at racecourses including nutritionists and physiotherapists, private medical insurance for the sport’s participants and the wearing of body protectors by stable staff.
• Jockeys’ Minimum Weights
On the related matter of jockeys’ minimum weights, statistics were released highlighting how BHB was addressing the matter through race planning means rather than taking the approach of raising minimum weights across the board. The introduction of narrow-band handicaps in September 2004 brought about a significant reduction of Flat races including horses framed to carry less than 8st 4lb, and in 2005 such races accounted for 23.8% of the total number of Flat races. With further steps taken including the restructuring of allowances in Maiden Auction and Claiming races, the figure in 2006 will be approximately 15%. Martin Broughton said: “Tackling the issue of minimum weights in the way we have done is a more holistic approach. I believe we need more female riders like Hayley Turner coming into the sport, so why eliminate some of the options for genuinely lightweight jockeys?”
• Future Governance Structure
An update on progress with regard to the merging of the governance and regulatory functions within British Racing was given. A Governance Structure Group chaired by Martin Broughton and comprised of representatives of BHB’s four shareholders, Rob Hughes, Chairman of the Levy Board, and Rodney Brack from the Future Funding of Racing Review Group continued to meet. The Group’s aim was to have agreement on a proposal for the creation of an entirely new entity in charge of the sport’s governance and regulation that would be presented at a ‘round table’ meeting with Minister for Sport Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP at the end of March. A separate group, which included bookmaker representation, is seeking to establish whether the FFRRG’s recommended commercial funding mechanism is compatible with competition law, and is taking advice accordingly.
• 48-hour declarations
BHB’s position on 48-hour declarations was reiterated following last week’s Board meeting, at which it was emphasised that no specific commitment to prize money had been discussed, contrary to a press report of a £1m figure. The Board resolved to take a decision on whether or not to introduce 48-hour declarations for all Flat races at its 6th March meeting in the light of talks between key parties. Greg Nichols said: “The Board is waiting on the outcome of commercial negotiations between those who put on the show – the racecourses – and major contributors to the show, such as owners and trainers.”
• Regional Racing
Greg Nichols reported that consideration was being given to whether to amalgamate Regional races into existing ‘regular’ meetings within the Fixture List, rather than having them segregated into entirely separate meetings.
• BHB Legal Advice
It was announced that BHB had ended its relationship with the legal firm Addleshaw Goddard, its legal advisers since inception in 1993. Herbert Smith would succeed them, with effect from, it was anticipated, March 2006.