23 Feb 2010 Pre-2014 Releases

Racing is changing.  Always has, always will.

Of course there will be people who like to characterize Racing as part of British life from a long gone age – and yes, the history and tradition of the sport is one of its greatest qualities – and the essential nature of the sport – horse and jockey striving for the win – will never, ever change, creating international superstars and local heroes, as we saw in abundance last year. 

But a sport that is the foundation of such diverse and vibrant sectors as broadcasting and the leisure and entertainment business, must keep changing. 

The traditional view of Racing might be Stubbs; the contemporary view to sit alongside it is Mark Wallinger’s 142 foot grey thoroughbred in Kent.

Very different, but both show sides of British Horseracing that make it so important, so special.


A big change occurred three years ago to the organisation of the sport – many of you in this room were directly involved in the bold decision to create the Authority – you reformed and modernised the way the sport is run, represented and regulated. 

We were set up to be your independent governing body, entrusted to lead the big debates, and carry out the essential day to day roles to make the sport happen. 

The Authority represented a break from tradition, and created a completely different way of working – one, not surprisingly, that some still struggle to recognise as having happened. 

Our goal throughout has been to ensure that British Horseracing continues to be, and be seen as, the best in the world.  We, me, my team, the Board, are accountable to the owners, racecourses, breeders, jockeys, trainers and stable staff, to whom we have to answer on a regular basis. 

We run on straightforward business lines, based on analysis and rigour.  As regulator, we do what we do with the consent of our stakeholders that means constant communication and consultation.  It certainly does not mean that all will always agree with decisions – and it is part of our job to challenge the way the sport does things, and the frameworks within which we operate, to try to align everyone across the sport, to seek agreement on a course of action, and then get on with it.  And as Rod as said, we also have to look outside our immediate participants, to identify what our wider stakeholders want.

I am going to set out our Agenda for this year, in many ways a continuation of what we have been doing since we started three years ago.  I hope the new format annual report demonstrates the breadth of our work, largely behind the scenes on the racecourse and in the office.  We were set up to make sure all those things that must be done to run the sport, are done, as best they can with the right process and the right people in place, and as efficiently as possible.

Paul and I take our plans, built up over months, first to the Board, and then the member organisations, to set out what we think needs to be done to carry out the tasks they have entrusted to us, why we think it needs to be done, how we think it can best be carried out.  That’s what we did at the end of last year, and that is how we arrive at the plan we are carrying out.  At a cost of £2m less in 2010 than in 2009, a reduction that has been planned through and implemented from pretty much this time last year.

Turning now to each of our key day to day areas of responsibility – Firstly, Equine Science and Welfare – our paramount concern.

The standards we set for ourselves across the sport go way beyond what is required of us by laws. We have the systems in place, the regulation and monitoring, and the resolve, to ensure as far as possible that we don’t only say it, we do it.

We have committed professionals on the racecourse and around the country.

We have worked closely with DEFRA, welfare organisations such as the RSPCA and SSPCA and World Horse Welfare, to ensure they can have confidence in and respect Racing, and to be a challenger to us – not least so that we can challenge back when necessary in an informed, open and fact based debate. 

We will shortly conclude national protocols with the police and RSPCA on Animal Welfare, and we are leading the debate within the sport’s International Federation – with many around the Racing world looking at what happens here as best practice.

Public opinion – and therefore politicians and officials in Westminster, Cardiff and Edinburgh as well as Brussels – must continue to have confidence in the fact that our sport puts welfare first. And they do.

Disease is another major risk – with potentially catastrophic consequences and it shouldn’t be a surprise that we invest considerable time to planning for when – not if – an industry-threatening disease arises in this country.  This means significant research, education and constant engagement with Government here and the EU. 

There has to be zero tolerance to anyone reckless enough to think that vaccinations and biosecurity do not matter.  We are only as strong as our weakest point, as a recent outbreak in Wiltshire showed.

Also, during 2009 we have planned the modernisation of the way we go about anti-doping, and 2010 will see further changes.  There shouldn’t be a single person in the sport that tolerates those who seek to cheat through the use of performance-enhancing drugs; nor is there any place for someone looking to dope a horse; and from a welfare perspective nor is there any place for anyone seeking to risk the whole sport’s reputation by irresponsibly masking pain through drugs or surgery. 

We have shifted during 2009 to being more active in gathering intelligence and acting on it in these areas.  And this will continue.

Our new approach also includes us being open on the entire anti-doping programme.  This involves opening the doors of the laboratory to trainers for the first time. 

The sport has invested in the new facility in Newmarket to provide vital detection data, and the results of this will start to come through this year to be shared across the sport.


Our Equine Science and Welfare team now work closely with our Integrity Services and Licensing team; and whilst we have broadened the focus for our intelligence and investigation resource to include these vital areas, we continue to do all we can to deter those who would seek to corrupt the sport; corruption connected with betting.

Racing’s resource and approach to this issue has repeatedly been assessed as the industry leader, most recently by Rick Parry’s review for the Sports Minister. But no one should be complacent about this – the threat is ever-present, and its impact potentially severe. 

We stated last year and before that education is vital.  And this has driven our new approach to Licensing; we have brought in new suitability criteria for trainers and jockeys, and plan to introduce criteria for owners in the sport during 2010. 

At the same time, we have reduced the red tape and bureaucracy that had been created around the annual licensing processes.  This is moving on-line.

We have changed our disciplinary processes with the creation of a new dedicated Compliance team to deal with all issues other than race-riding matters. 

I said last year that we would work to a target to complete the majority of investigations within 9 months, and all to be brought to charges within 12 months. With two exceptions which remain to be addressed, for good reason, there are no cases outstanding from 2008.


2009 was a year of considerable change in our Raceday Operations and Regulation team – the Rules were rewritten for the first time in decades, with a new consultative process for all changes – reflecting that open and consultative way of running the sport, with proper process, that some still struggle with; new Flat Start procedures were introduced with greater flexibility; the implementation of the recommendations from the Stewarding Review; we are addressing off-times; and made major organisational changes within the Raceday team of officials have been brought in;

2009 also saw the end of the separate Regulatory Committee. 

2010 will see a continuation of this work, with new totting up procedures coming in, and the arrival of Jamie Stier who will be taking over as Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation from Tony after 20 years of great service to the sport.


On the Racing front, 2009 included its usual challenges including the all too familiar ones presented by the weather.  2010 has started in a similar vein, causing immense disruption and testing the ingenuity and patience of our team as well as those at racecourses or in yards.

2010 is all about getting the fixture list for 2011 in the best possible shape.  That means drawing together and implementing the Strategic Review of the Fixture List, Racing for Change and the Levy Board’s own review processes.


Some changes have been made, but it is our view that the sport must approach the Fixture List and the race programme and the funding structure behind it, differently – it has to change. 

Rod has outlined some of those changes that will come through – 2011 will be the year in which differentiation of our fixtures and races, or tiering, with a focus on clearly branded premier meetings, including only higher quality races with strong prize money, two on a Saturday with terrestrial coverage, one on a Friday and Sunday for much of the year. All in addition, of course, to the festivals which generate so much of the international and national interest.

But change needs to take place across the fixture list – we have pushed an approach that would see a Fixture List and programme, and the finances behind it, as far as possible as if negotiated between Horsemen – the people putting a net £450m plus into the sport – and racecourses – putting on the show and pulling in commercial revenues, including from betting.

We are taking a different approach to betting related racing product – which has to be driven by when the returns will be highest.   So for instance around the World Cup this Summer there will be additional races programmed to try to make the most of England’s and other big matches. 

Away from the fixture list, we will be looking at our handicapping policies and the way in which we explain them as the latest major review of what we do across the organisation.


In 2009 we made further significant changes to the way in which we operate as an organisation, the move to a functional open-plan office environment as you have heard about.  We have also made major changes to improve management and communication across the organisation – our dedicated team operate all across the country –  with a real focus on training and development, and the use of technology.

Training across the whole sport is a real focus, with new Jockey training and a continuing development programme for Stud and Stable staff to come through as major parts of our new industry wide Learning and Development plan. 

Assisting NASS to become fit-for-purpose is a key goal, and we will be working with them and others to look at the insurance schemes that are in place across the industry to ensure that there are no inefficiencies, and no gaps.  The impact of the weather on our people across the sport was a reminder of the importance of this.


On the Communications side, during the year, considerable energy was put into,, our new online press office launched yesterday, and BHA Xtra phone blogging coverage. 

We also built on our new partnership with The Prince’s Trust, an initiative to take teenagers who will soon be looking for jobs to the racecourse, to show them the possibilities we can offer. 

This is all building on the great work of BHEST and RacingtoSchool, the British Racing School and the Northern Racing College, our two beacon standard dedicated education and training establishments.

Away from racing-specific education, our online teaching resource, Raceday for Schools, is being used in over 300 schools nationwide, with plans in train to extend this considerably in 2010.


As Paul has said one of our key roles is to ensure as far as possible the sport speaks with one voice – with Government and across Parliament and Whitehall; Politicians and officials should no longer say that they get too many different views from racing.  That is a traditional view of Racing that had to go. 

Brussels plays an ever growing role and we have pushed the creation of a European and Mediterranean Racing Federation, so we can make the case for the sport.

During 2009 we held Racing’s first ever Parliamentary Reception, hosted by Clare Balding – and published two reports – Racing Together and on our Economic Impact, and thanks again to Business in the Community and Deloitte for all their fantastic support. Copies are available to take away – and some of the key statistics are on the screens. 

Racing has an immense amount to be proud of, and to shout about. 

Racing Together is all about highlighting the many exciting and successful initiatives going on around and through Racing; to make sure others in the sport know about them, to join them up where possible, to give us an accurate assessment of how much is already being done, and what more can be done.

But we need to tell others outside the sport about the great things that are going on, changing lives, to generate very positive publicity, and to attract future partners.


The fact that Racing contributes so much, and is so important to the livelihoods of so many people, particularly in the rural community, as well as to the overall prestige of the nation, is at the heart of why Governments – for getting on for 100 years – have wanted to make sure that there are legal mechanisms to ensure a proper level of funding.

Britain is no different in that respect to every other racing nation – Governments around the world have all put in place systems to ensure a fair return from betting back into the sport and its workforce  – even where there the culture is anti-betting.

Of course, Britain is different on that score; we have the most liberalised approach to betting and – gambling and gaming – with fixed-odds and exchange betting, and as we have all seen pretty much open-house from offshore operators.  But that doesn’t mean racing here should not be treated fairly. 

Betting operators and even more so their customers, punters, have been an integral part of Racing forever – only racing and greyhounds are in this relationship with betting – our rules, the way our participants play the game, the way the sport is organised, has the fact that we provide betting product is at our core.  Other sports change to reflect what their key commercial partners are looking for, and are paid accordingly under the mechanisms that exist, payment to be allowed into a stadium to broadcast, payment to be allowed to associate with a sport’s brands through sponsorship, as well as more direct customer relationships at events through tickets and food and drink.

Of course our sport should be getting a fair return from the activity that drives a lot of what we do. And the two mechanisms we have in relation to betting itself are the Tote and the Levy.

Paul has already mentioned the Tote and its fantastic contribution to racing of getting on for £20m.

The Levy, introduced in 1961, to quote Government “is a mechanism for transferring funds from the business of betting on horse races to ‘horseracing’’ in a broad sense”.

The simple fact is that the amount of funds being transferred under the old world approach to the Levy is unfair and inadequate. It’s a new world, and new rules are needed.

Both the current Government and the Conservative opposition say that what is needed is “modernisation”, or “reform” in the levy. Absolutely right. We have consistently called for a radical reform of the current mechanism, the Levy, to ensure that it does the job it was intended to do in the modern market, a market of offshore operators, exchanges, where there are still hangovers from the old approach that are actually pushing operators to promote other products.

The good news is that there is a brand new Levy process, there are new rules, a total break with the old way of doing things.  We are totally committed to this new approach, which we are seeing as what we trust will be negotiations between Racing and Betting – all of betting – for the first time starting next month with Racing’s case as to what we think that reasonable or fair level of payment should be. 

We will be going first; setting out what we think is the reasonable amount to be paid across from betting.

We are working on what we think that is now and will be putting it to the Levy Board in a number of weeks. 

And with the current level at £85m, it is good to have seen leading figures from betting coming forward over recent weeks saying that Racing is due much more.

So the issue is simply – how much more.  And there is a good amount of time to come to an agreed amount. 

It was only a few years ago that the levy return exceeded £115m.  And let’s get things into some perspective here – Levy receipts at those levels, at £100+ million, isn’t at windfall levels.  Far from it.  The amount the Government targeted as fair and reasonable back in 2003/4, based on the rules of the Levy that applied then, was £90-105m. That was with a fixture list of 250 less than our current 1,500, and when the price of a litre of diesel was around 75p.

Once the right number is established, then will be the time to get into the issue of what parts of the betting world will be contributing what proportion – the very different businesses of small independent, majors, exchanges, online and other remote operators.  They will have differences of opinion between them, undoubtedly. Heated differences.  But whatever those difficult issues are, and however they are resolved, does not, and will not, and cannot, alter the amount that is due to racing.

One thing that is very clear, no one with anything about them will be saying – or even shouting as has happened – “rollover”, or leave it as it has been, keep doing things the old way.  No, new rules apply


2010 is going to be a big year for racing away from the racecourse.

But none of us are under any illusion that what really matters is on the racecourse. That will never change. I repeatedly say that I don’t much care what organisation someone in racing works for, or what their day to day job is, or what their specific business is – everyone has the same ultimate goal – to get people talking about racing – the passion, the intrigue, the stars, the horses, the characters, the fun – so people will go racing, bet on racing and get involved directly through ownership or working in the sport. 

Next weekend’s instalment at Kempton is of course supported by the Racing Post, home to many of the sport’s best story tellers.

Last year created countless amazing stories, internationally, nationally, locally – stories to get people talking about Racing. 

We will continue to do our day job to the highest standards, answerable to the sport, and fully accountable, to do all we can to ensure that things run smoothly, fairly, and safely.  But always knowing that the real job is to ensure that the sport thrills and enthrals, and remains, now as before, the best in the world.

Thank you.