ROA President Rachel Hood today said that owners and other horsemen are seeking a long-term agreement with Britain’s racecourses so that an “appropriate share of all revenues is committed to prize-money”.
She told the annual general meeting of the ROA in London that, in the wake of increasing media rights payments to racecourses and declining Levy contributions, more clarity was required.
“The situation relating to media rights revenues remains a major concern for owners,” she said, adding that “greater transparency regarding all racing’s income streams” was needed.
Rachel Hood also called for a change to the way that fixtures are funded with a view to delivering a co-ordinated race programme that better meets the requirements of the horse population. Instead of money flowing from the Levy Board on the basis of a daily fixture allocation a new system should see prize funds allocated to individual races.
She said: “The better the grade of race put on, the higher the allocation. This system would neatly dovetail with our long-held view that racing is fundamentally about meritocracy.”
Pointing to the new £300,000 Horsemen’s Bonus Scheme that injects prize-money into “the pockets of ROA members”, she emphasised that the future of racing revolved almost as much around the relationship between racecourses and horsemen as between the racing and betting industries.
She stressed in her speech that it had to be accepted that the horsemen would play a central part in the fixture list and the racing programme – after all” she said, “owners and other horsemen provide the racecourses with their stock in trade – runners and riders”.
Turning to the relationship between racing and the betting industry, Rachel Hood said that the ROA would be very keen to see financial arrangements based on the turnover of bookmakers because the current gross profits system had “sold British racing short” in recent years.
The nub of a new Trust structure between the betting industry, racing and the Government - while allowing payments to continue to be made VAT-free - would require any bookmaker taking bets on British horseracing to have an agreement in place with racing’s representative body.
“Such a system would do much to close the offshore bookmaker loophole on payments to racing which is responsible for so much income wastage,” the ROA President told her audience.
She applauded the work of Matthew Hancock MP whose efforts should lead to the Offshore Gambling Bill becoming law next year.
Whilst racing’s future commercial arrangements would be led by horsemen and racecourses, Rachel Hood also took time in her speech to praise the contribution made by the new Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority.
“I have previously been very critical of racing’s governing authority,” she said. “I am pleased to say that since Paul Bittar arrived in January, my view of his organisation has become much more positive. Under his leadership, the BHA has a major role to play in helping to facilitate the best outcome for its members, which obviously includes the ROA.”
Rachel Hood concluded by announcing that Satellite Information Services had agreed to become the new backer of the ROA’s Owner Sponsorship Scheme. The ROA had maintained the scheme on its own following the withdrawal of the Tote’s support by Betfred last year.
She said: “Thank you SIS. It is an agreement that marks one of those rare and refreshing moments when the betting industry and owners see a mutual benefit. In the post-Levy era that beckons, I hope, there will be many more of these.”
10 July 2012