13 Dec 2005 Pre-2014 Releases

Jockey Club Launch HRA In April 2006 and Peter Webbon Appointed Its Chief Executive

Published: 13 December 2005

The Stewards of the Jockey Club announced today their further plans to establish independent regulation for British Horseracing. From April 2006, it is proposed that responsibility for regulation will be transferred from the Jockey Club’s Regulatory Board to an independently controlled Board, the Horseracing Regulatory Authority (HRA).

Julian Richmond-Watson, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, said: “It is no secret that our efforts to set up HRA as a separate legal entity have been frustrated by the difficulty in obtaining a new funding agreement and, more recently, by the reluctance of the Levy Board to meet the pension deficit that would arise on the transfer of staff from the Jockey Club to a brand new organisation.”

“However, the Jockey Club remains committed to increasing the independence of regulation as far as circumstances will allow. In order to overcome the problems caused by setting up HRA as a separate company, we plan to establish HRA as an organisation under an independent Board within the Jockey Club. This is a transitional arrangement while future funding and structures for the industry are debated and resolved but in the interim it will provide regulation demonstrably independent of the sport’s participants, a key point which should be borne in mind when consideration is given to Lord Donoghue’s proposals.

“Back in 2003, the Jockey Club made a public commitment to establish a more independent regulatory body and we are determined to honour that rather than delay further while waiting for other issues and problems within the sport to try and resolve themselves. In addition, at some point the racing industry is going to have to deal with the pension deficit of regulatory and BHB employees.”

HRA will be chaired by John Bridgeman CBE, a former Director General of the OFT, who has been the independent Chairman of the Jockey Club’s Regulatory Board since April.

It was also announced today that the Chief Executive of HRA will be Dr Peter Webbon. Peter Webbon joined the Jockey Club in 1996 as Chief Veterinary Adviser and was appointed Director of Veterinary Welfare and Science in 2002.

Announcing the appointment, John Bridgeman, said, “Peter was chosen after a rigorous selection process. He had everything we were looking for; as well as being an established figure in the sport with acknowledged professional credentials; he is also a proven manager and an exceptional communicator. As Veterinary Director at the Jockey Club and in his previous jobs he has demonstrated his management and budgetary capabilities and having sat on the Regulatory Board he has played a full part in regulatory policy making.”

Peter Webbon said, “Over the years my role has broadened from its initial technical and scientific content to include far more strategic, financial, regulatory and media related considerations. I am delighted to have the opportunity to use this experience in the role of Chief Executive to establish HRA as the new regulatory body for racing.”

Peter Webbon will succeed Christopher Foster, currently Executive Director of the Jockey Club, who retires at the end of March 2006.

13th December 2005

Notes for Editors:

1. The Board of the HRA will comprise:

John Bridgeman CBE Chairman }
Ben Gunn CBE } 3 Independent Directors
Additional Independent to be appointed }
Sir Michael Connell } 2 Directors nominated by
Andrew Merriam } the Jockey Club

The new Chief Executive

2. Following advertisements in the Racing Post, Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph, nearly 100 applications were received. Shortlisted candidates were interviewed by two separate panels before the final candidates were interviewed by a panel consisting of John Bridgeman, Sir Michael Connell, Deputy Senior Steward and Tristram Ricketts, Chief Executive of the Levy Board.

3. After graduating from the Royal Veterinary College, Peter Webbon managed to combine his love for racing with his veterinary skills with his appointment as a Levy Board Research Training Scholar. He then became a lecturer in Radiology at the Royal Veterinary College prior to becoming the Senior Lecturer in Equine Medicine there from 1983-1996. During this time he also acted as the Director of the RVC’s Sefton Equine Referral Hospital, a role which brought with it full responsibility for policy, clinical activities, rostering and budgetary control.

His achievements at the Jockey Club include playing the leading role for racing in 2001 by developing with DEFRA the conditions for which racing could continue amidst the Foot and Mouth epidemic and conceiving the successful annual thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Seminar held at Cheltenham each year.