Last night British Racing’s Sports Economy Breeders’ Cup Trade Mission began with a welcome reception held in Pasadena, California. Hosted by UK Government and sponsored by Ascot Racecourse, Great British Racing International and The Jockey Club, it provided an opportunity for senior industry representatives from across racing including British horsemen and women competing in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to meet the trade mission delegation, valued owners and other international investors.
BHA CEO, Julie Harrington, addressed the reception with the below speech:
Good evening everyone and thank you for joining us.
I’m thrilled to be here on behalf of the British Horseracing Authority representing the horseracing industry and as such, would like to say how grateful we are to UK Government for recognising the contribution our world-leading sport makes to the economy, culture, and society. The racing industry supports 20,000 jobs in Great Britain directly, rising to 85,000 when including indirect employment too and generates an economic impact of £4.1 billion; underpinned by a global gold standard in welfare.
The British racing and breeding industry is highly reliant on international investment. Great Britain’s 59 racecourses attract a huge number of fans, global investors, foreign diplomats and policymakers alike not to mention competitors from across the globe at meetings both on the flat at Royal Ascot, the Derby, Glorious Goodwood, the Ebor Festival and British Champions Day, and over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National.
From attending the biggest meetings in Great Britain, I know first-hand what international competition adds to a raceday. We have all watched in awe as Wesley Ward has spearheaded the revival of US fortunes at Royal Ascot in the past decade with some outstanding training performances. You will see for yourselves at this year’s Breeders’ Cup the respect British racing people have for our American counterparts – and the pleasure derived from striking the odd blow back when we can!
The global demand for British bloodstock continues to rise with significant interest and investment coming from the US market. Our world-leading thoroughbred breeding operations are underpinned by a thriving stallion market headlined by Darley’s Dubawi and Juddmonte’s Frankel.
In recent years, thanks to the increasing ease of travel and the growing impact of social media, racing is more and more a global sport, with its participants and supporters following the action in Britain, from across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia to here in the United States. I am thrilled that our great racing in Britain is enjoyed far and wide and, on behalf of the world-class practitioners of the sport in my country, I welcome and encourage the challenge from overseas competitors that means we all must keep upping our own game.
This UK trade mission represents the first time our industry has collaborated on a large-scale international event with the support of Government and I’m thankful for the support of the Department for Business and Trade, the Consulate in Los Angeles, and our industry partners Ascot Racecourse, Great British Racing International, The Jockey Club and UK Tote Group in helping realise this, along with the organisers of the Breeders’ Cup. The potential for it to deliver new international investment into British racing is a fantastic opportunity and I wish all the companies taking part every success.
2023 has been a pivotal year for British racing as we look to grow the popularity of our sport. This year we have recently announced a new initiative through the creation of Premier Racedays in Britain from 2024, with higher prize money and more top-quality racing featuring not only the best British horses but seeking to attract even more top-class runners from overseas. A key part of our industry strategy is not only to increase engagement with the sport at home, but to better bring to life the unique and diverse landscape of British racing to a global audience. Despite being recognised as a world leader, British racing will continue to invest, to learn and to lead in the years ahead.
It’s also been a year in which one of the sport’s all-time greats – Frankie Dettori – signed off his 34-year British racing career in spectacular style with one of his finest rides guiding King Of Steel home to win the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot Racecourse just over a fortnight ago and the pair are now bidding to follow up in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Saturday. On the same day, another legend of the sport and one who epitomised the strong link between US and British racing, Steve Cauthen, was inducted into our own Hall of Fame.
The Breeders’ Cup remains an important annual hunting ground for Britain’s owners, trainers, and jockeys who have enjoyed many success stories in recent years. We have seen five British trainers represented in the winner’s enclosure over the last five renewals of the meeting, including, most recently, Charlie Appleby, who scored a hat-trick for Godolphin last year with Modern Games, Rebel’s Romance, and Mischief Magic.
I hope that this year is no different with 12 British-trained runners (9 jockeys and 9 trainers or training partnerships) taking part in the 40th World Championships just across the road at Santa Anita. I am excited to be attending the Breeders’ Cup meeting for the first time and look forward to cheering home the strong British contingent.
In closing, I’d like to wish all connections the very best of luck and success in the coming days and to thank you all for your support and contributions to British racing.
Photo: Emily Cloke, His Majesty’s British Consul General in Los Angeles and BHA Chief Executive Julie Harrington.