Work is underway to develop an industry strategy for British horseracing.
The strategy work is being coordinated by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), on behalf of and in collaboration with all those working in and involved with the racing industry.
We will keep you informed about the strategy as it develops. In this initial update, we set out the main priorities and areas of focus for racing’s long-term plan.
Some of these are already well established, while others will be refined and developed in the months ahead.
The need for a long-term plan
British racing’s leaders recognise the shared challenges facing the sport and the need to work together to address them. There is a huge amount of good work being done across British racing, but we also need to focus on the long-term health of the sport.
From areas like more prize money and competitive field sizes, through horse welfare and the needs of racing’s people, and attracting the next generation of owners, investors, and customers – collective action is needed to grow our industry.
The strategy is an opportunity to shape racing’s future and strengthen our position as a world-leader in thoroughbred racing and breeding.
Governing on behalf of the whole sport
To achieve this, industry leaders agree that we need to be able to make clear, evidence-based decisions in the best interests of the sport as a whole.
The BHA has been empowered, through changes to racing’s governance structure, to lead the sport on behalf of its major stakeholders – owners, breeders, jockeys, trainers, stable employees, and racecourses.
These governance changes have paved the way for the development of racing’s long-term plan.
The key areas of focus
The key priority areas for racing’s strategy are set out below. All are integral to racing’s long-term growth and success.
Some of these areas are well established, with a great deal of work already underway and clear timelines for delivery. Others will continue to be refined in the months and years ahead.
Objectives and targets will be developed in each of these areas as the strategy progresses, with input from individuals and organisations from across the industry, to ensure we have the right structures, people and expertise in place to deliver them.
We have also listed below the enablers that will support and facilitate activity in each priority area.
(I) TIME-CRITICAL AREA
The structure, presentation, and promotion of our racing product, including the fixture list, funding, and the race programme.
Several measures have already been announced to improve race competitiveness in 2023, but more fundamental changes are required for 2024 and beyond, with targeted support to increase racing’s appeal to investors, customers, bettors, and fans.
Our best races on the Flat and over Jumps – racing’s ‘shop window’ – need to be more easily identifiable, with greater competition between our top horses and prize money levels that support the retention of higher rated horses in Britain. The sport’s premier offering needs to be presented in a way that better engages new and existing audiences.
But sustainable growth is essential at all levels of the sport. Our core racing product, in which most of our horses and participants compete, must be consistently competitive, with field sizes that drive revenue and prizes that encourage training and racing of horses in Britain.
Led by BHA Chief Operating Officer, Richard Wayman, and supported by a project team that includes Paddy Desmond, former Director of Racing at Paddy Power, this work will result in proposals for innovation within the structure of the fixture list and race programme.
This work is being informed by the BHA’s Fixtures and Funding Group, the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB), betting operators, media rights holders, customers, and others.
To bring about substantive change to the racing product in 2024 – through the fixture list and race programme – policies in this area must be in place by late Spring 2023. This is therefore the most time-critical area for the strategy and work in developing proposals is already well underway.
(II) AREAS WHERE WORK IS UNDERWAY
Our collective lifetime responsibility to all horses bred for racing. These initiatives are set out in the industry’s comprehensive welfare strategy – A Life Well Lived – with many projects already in progress, led by the Horse Welfare Board operating alongside the BHA as the sport’s regulatory body, and our racecourses, participants and funders.A recently announced Racing Foundation funding grant of £3 million over three years will help accelerate progress in supporting cross-industry projects around safety, data, and traceability.
Recruiting and retaining a high-performing, diverse and inclusive workforce.
We must ensure racing remains an appealing and fulfilling industry in which to work. This means prioritising the wellbeing, development and retention of everyone employed across the sport, while attracting new talent by promoting the great benefits of a career in racing.
Racing will take a coordinated approach to our people, driven by a new Industry People Board.
Chaired by Neil Hayward and funded by the Horserace Betting Levy Board and Racing Foundation, the People Board will bring together the various people-related initiatives, with the aim of supporting, developing and future-proofing racing’s workforce.
(III) AREAS IN DEVELOPMENT
World-class integrity and regulation, both on and off the racecourse.
Ensuring the sport is safe, clean and fair, and giving our participants, investors and customers confidence in the integrity of British racing, will continue to be at the heart of our work.
This means a professional and consistent approach to raceday regulation; the strongest possible human and equine anti-doping measures; robust safeguarding and wellbeing regimes; and well-managed investigations, with efficient case management.
While the core of British racing’s integrity function is already well developed, we must ensure that it keeps pace with any developments in the racing product, as well as identifying areas for ongoing innovation and improvement.
Ownership is the lifeblood of British racing and the owner voice will be at the heart of racing’s plan.Improving the owner experience, ensuring they feel engaged, valued, and rewarded for their investment is central to racing’s strategy.
We must also retain and recruit new owners and investment in horses in training, promoting the benefits of ownership and the different types available.
Any focus on ownership has to be a cross-industry effort, to ensure that owners are recognised and rewarded across every touchpoint. We will bring together existing work, identifying any gaps and ensuring there is a single, coordinated and well-resourced plan.
Increasing the returns from betting and working with operators to support a thriving racing industry.Through the work on the racing product, there is an opportunity to work more closely with betting operators and customers to ensure the best financial return to British racing, using data and insight from customer behaviour to drive increased engagement and activity, aligned to our restructured racing product.
We will continue to work on potential development of the Horserace Betting Levy to secure an appropriate and fair return from betting activity, both domestically and overseas – enhancing the sustainability and international competitiveness of our sport.
How we present racing to the world and promote our major assets.
British racing and breeding are blessed with significant assets – the prestige of our major events, quality of our horses and skill of our participants.
Working with broadcasters, media partners and others we must maximise promotional opportunities to engage key audiences with our racing, our personalities and our equine stars; creating more compelling, engaging, innovative and interactive content that appeals across our various customer bases.
How we appeal to new and existing fans – understanding what our different customers want.The sport already engages with a broad range of audiences, whether on the racecourse, through TV and social media, and via a range of community initiatives.
Our focus here will be on retaining and engaging existing supporters, through a compelling racing product, while simultaneously attracting new, younger and more diverse audiences – minimising barriers to involvement, including through the management of reputational risk.
Promote and secure more investment in British racing, both domestic and overseas. Britain is recognised globally as a world-leader in thoroughbred racing and breeding – and as such has proved an enticing prospect for investors. But we cannot rest on our long-held reputation.
We need to build on existing initiatives and invest in an ambitious plan to grow high-level overseas involvement and investment at the sales and in British-bred bloodstock; increase the number of international owners with horses in training; attract more internationally trained horses to compete in our races; and expand high-level sponsorship throughout British racing.
Corporate social responsibility
Enhancing racing’s positive impact and its role as force for good.
Racing already has a positive impact on society and recognises its responsibility to do good, for instance through areas such as community and non-profit initiatives.
We will work with those already working in this area to consider what more could be done, and how best to organise ourselves to do it.
Every element of racing’s industry strategy will be underpinned by the following enablers, which are consistent themes and will help support and inform work across each of the priority areas listed above:
- A high-quality and sustainable British breeding industry – to grow the number of horses in training, support a diverse and competitive race programme, retain the best quality stallions and mares in Britain and continually attract ongoing investment.
- A diverse and inclusive industry – creating a sport that reflects wider society and gives everyone an opportunity to fulfil their potential, no matter their background. This will build on the work of the industry’s Diversity in Racing Steering Group, supporting people to feel included, valued and welcome.
- Responding to environmental challenges – understanding and mitigating the risks presented by a changing climate, adapting our operations and seizing opportunities, so that we safeguard our horses, people and businesses. Some of the progress in this space is detailed in the industry’s environmental audit, which will be used to help inform long-term planning.
- Robust data and insight – to provide a strong evidence-base for more informed decision-making. This includes improved sharing of existing information for use in the best interests of the sport as a whole.
- Clear communications and ongoing engagement – to build understanding, trust and confidence in the sport’s objectives and progress; keeping people informed and encouraging a strong sense of support and ownership for racing’s strategy as the work develops.