Remarks By the Senior Steward, Sir Thomas Pilkington Bt., at the Opening of the New Horseracing Forensic Laboratory
Published: 2 May 1997
This magnificent building is as clear an indication as one could possibly get of the success and international recognition which the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory has achieved in its comparatively short life. Its reputation in the field of anti-doping analysis and research is second to none.
I’m delighted to say that this wonderful facility is also a welcome and creditable demonstration of the Levy Board’s long term commitment to integrity. It is a long time, as John Robb said, since we hanged people in public for doping racehorses, and although the Disciplinary Committee’s penalties are now somewhat less draconian, the Jockey Club continues to regard the offence with the utmost gravity.
Integrity is the foundation on which racing stands, and by integrity I don’t mean just dope testing, but also such things as the camera patrol and the work of Jockey Club Officials during a day’s racing. If integrity is neglected, or not properly funded, the whole of racing’s structure will begin to crumble. The cost effective provision of the necessary funds in this area is the greatest service which the Levy Board can give, even if as a consequence there is less to spend on other needs.
The reputation and the success of British racing depends upon the priority given by the Board to integrity expenditure. I do not need to remind you that it is these high standards, the recognition that racing is run fairly and honestly, which have played a large part in attracting overseas owners to this country and which continue to maintain the confidence of our own participants. Without that confidence, you can kiss goodbye, not only to many of our own British owners, but also to virtually all our foreign friends who have horses in training here. Integrity must therefore continue as the Levy Board’s priority, and I mean priority.
I am therefore very pleased that in its recent policy statement the Levy Board made it clear that, and I quote, the first priority for the expenditure of that part of the Board’s funds devoted to the improvement of horseracing is the most cost effective provision of technical, security and officals’ services for the protection of integrity of racing in the interests of the racing public and the punter. The statement goes on to say that in the longer term, the Board would like to see its Fixture Fee grants covering 100% of the costs. I’m sure that everyone here will join me in expressing the wish that the return to 100% funding will take place sooner rather than later.
I congratulate everyone who has been involved in the development and construction of this outstanding facility, and our very special congratulations are due to the management and staff for the successful transfer to the new site, achieved, from our perspective as a client, in a thoroughly untroubled fashion. The Lab will enable Britain to stay at the very forefront of horserace forensic science. The opportunity which the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory now has to expand and diversify its operation, playing an increasingly significant role within Europe and internationally, will provide further external income and help to underpin its valuable service to the Jockey Club.
It may be a hackneyed phrase, but this really is a centre of excellence and it provides another jewel in Newmarket’s already glittering crown. Two world renowned courses, the magnificent training grounds, the National Stud, the British Racing School, the Animal Health Trust, the National Horseracing Museum and all the breeding and training establishments combine to justify Newmarket’s description as the Headquarters of British racing.
The Jockey Club is proud to be the principle client of the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory, whose work in deterring misuse and abuse of prohibited substances supports our long-standing policy of drug-free racing in this country. I am confident that these superb new quarters will play their part in achieving this objective and I therefore have the greatest pleasure in declaring this new Laboratory open.