Serving Racehorse Owners: Part 1
In the first of a series of blogs, we explain a little about how the BHA is working to improve and simplify the administrative process for racehorse owners through Racing Digital – starting with changes to the fee structure, which will be introduced later in 2023.
Racehorse owners are the largest investors in British racing and the BHA is committed to continually improving the way we interact with all owners – from sole owners with multiple horses to syndicate members.
Central to this is investment in better digital technology, so that we can simplify processes like owner applications, sponsorship, colours, and VAT administration.
Much of this work is being led by Racing Digital – a joint venture between the BHA and Weatherbys. Racing Digital is in the process of replacing the current racing administration systems with more user-friendly services.
Owners will begin to see the benefits of this work before the end of this year, including the introduction of a new, simplified fee structure, which aims to provide greater clarity around what is charged, when and why.
THE CURRENT MODEL AND OWNER FEEDBACK
Owners currently pay a range of registration, re-registration and handling fees, and based on feedback we have received, it is clear that there is a desire for an improved fee structure which:
– Provides increased clarity about what will be charged and when;
– Helps ensure that initial costs are not prohibitive and unwelcoming; and,
– Results in fewer fees being drip-fed across the course of a year.
THE NEW OWNERS’ FEE MODEL
The new fee structure, which aims to remain income neutral for the BHA, will be introduced before the end of this year and be based around the four simple charging categories described below.
We want to encourage more people into racehorse ownership – and take whatever reasonable steps we can to reduce any barriers to entry.
Under the new fee model, anyone registering a new ownership will be asked to pay a single upfront joining fee. This will be significantly reduced compared with the current registration charges, with anyone registering as an individual owner charged no fee at all.
By reducing up-front costs, we can better support owners to make decisions on the correct ownership for them, as opposed to selecting ownership structures based on registration costs alone.
By eliminating the registration fee for individuals, for example, it will better encourage and allow small ownership groups to register as Partnerships, simultaneously providing an opportunity to tighten the definition of Syndicates and Racing Clubs to enhance the regulation of commercial ownership entities.
We also want to improve the experience for existing owners and reduce the drip-feed of fees throughout the year, which we know can be a cause for frustration and isn’t always as straightforward as we would like.
To help achieve this, we will introduce an annual subscription charge for each registered owner / ownership.
The annual subscription charge will cover a whole range of different fees that would ordinarily be charged at different points throughout the year. This would include things like authority to act, new or ongoing VAT registrations and sponsorship.
This will be charged once a year on the date of the original owner registration, with a lower fee for owners who haven’t had a runner in the previous 12 months.
A small number of fees will remain outside of the annual subscription and be charged separately to allow flexibility for owners. This includes registrations such as Colours and Names.
These fees will be charged separately as not all owners are likely to require them (e.g. only 50% of owners have colours registered in their name) and the registrations can be made by non-registered owners (i.e. non-registered owners can register colours and names).
As such, to include them within the annual subscription would mean increasing that fee considerably for all owners with only a minority fully benefitting.
The current entry handling fee will be replaced by a split entry/declaration handling charge, with a view to reducing costs for owners at the entry stage when they are less certain of running.
For owners who enter, but don’t declare, the handling fee will be lower than for owners that do decide to declare. To reduce the drip feeding of fees, the entry/declaration handling fees will be charged as one following the race.
For owners averaging two entries per run, the new fee model has been designed deliberately to ensure it would cost the same as now, and for owners with a higher number of entries per run, say three, this model will cost them less.
Through a simplified and streamlined owners’ fee structure, the new model seeks to address the concerns previously highlighted by owners. No action is required ahead of these changes taking affect, and more detail will be provided later in the year including the specific date of implementation. In advance, if owners have any questions or wish to find out how these changes will impact them specifically, they can email [email protected].