Ownership reforms set for spring launch

25 Oct 2016 Financial/Political Grassroots

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced plans to launch a package of initiatives in spring 2017 to overhaul, simplify and modernise the administration of racehorse ownership.

Following widespread feedback from owners, including through the National Racehorse Owners Survey, and in consultation with the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), a series of reforms have been devised to build on one of the key aims of the Industry’s Strategy for Growth – to grow racehorse ownership by improving the retention of existing owners and introducing new owners to the sport. They include the launch of an online hub from which owners will be able to manage their ownership administration, the simplification of ownership registration types and the consolidation of owners’ fees.

Ownership Administration

It is acknowledged that administration of ownership has been a source of frustration for racehorse owners and, early next year, a step will be taken to reduce this burden by launching a new Racing Administration website.

Through an online hub, which will be supported by a telephone helpdesk, owners will be able to register, update and maintain ownerships digitally, removing the vast majority of paper based forms. In addition, owners will be able to set up sponsorships, register an authority to act and check and pay invoices all online.

Ownership Structures

To better accommodate the ways in which people own horses today, and to help eliminate confusion around registration, the eight different types of ownership that are currently available will be streamlined to five; sole, partnership, syndicate, racing club and company.

While sole and company ownership will remain the same, partnerships will be designed for small groups of registered owners who are looking to share the responsibility and liability for their horse(s).

Syndicates will become the ownership vehicle for entities which have been formed through a public offering to consumers and/or one that has an individual managing it (e.g. a syndicator). In future, the syndicator will become responsible for the syndicate, replacing the current requirement for two nominated partners from within the group.

Although they will not be required to formally register as owners with the BHA, all members in a syndicate will own a share of the horse. This is a key difference from Racing Clubs, in which horses will be owned by the club with members paying a subscription fee to enjoy the package of club benefits.

Consolidation of Fees

Along with simplifying the registration process, both new and existing owners alike will benefit from the alignment and bundling of ownership fees. Rather than charging a number of different fees at various stages through the year, fees for the registration and re-registration of colours, an authority to act and VAT will be aligned to one date in the year. New owners will also be able to purchase ‘fee bundles’ at the registration stage in order to minimise any additional admin.

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer for the BHA, said:

“At the heart of the sport’s growth strategy is making racehorse ownership more attractive and accessible to both new and existing owners. This will require significant progress in a number of areas including ownership administration, where there needs to be much greater emphasis on the customer experience. The initiatives announced today are a first important step on that journey.

“Similar to many online transactions, the new ownership administration system means that almost all administrative tasks will be completed much more easily and quickly online, while the simplification of ownership types and fee structures will remove much of the confusion and frustration of ownership admin

“Looking further ahead we would like to get to a position where the administrative costs of ownership are greatly reduced. As we explore how that might be delivered, the changes announced today will address many of the administrative frustrations our consultation told us have been faced by owners for too long.”

Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the ROA, said:

“Owners have long-complained that their first steps on the road to ownership were characterised by red tape and confusing ownership structures followed by numerous fees.

“The ROA is delighted that the planned reforms will greatly reduce these hurdles, ensuring that both existing and new owners can concentrate on the more enjoyable aspects of our thrilling sport.

“Given owners are the single biggest contributors to racing, investment in these reforms is very much welcomed.”

Notes to Editors

1. All owners currently registered as joint ownerships and racing partnerships will be converted to one of the new ownership types and will be notified of the change later in the year. Business partnership will be subsumed within the new partnerships structure and will be contacted accordingly. Already registered recognised stud companies will continue to exist, but no new ones will be registered.

2. The process of fee alignment will take place throughout 2017 and will involve pro-rata charges. All owners will be contacted at the beginning of the year to inform them of the changes.

3. More information about the Strategy for Growth can be found here: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/bha/about-us/industry-growth/