by ROA Chief Executive Richard Wayman
The findings from our latest survey of training costs are provided in the May issue of Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder magazine and, whilst it provides a lot of fascinating details, the overarching message is something we all already know: having a horse in training in Britain is very expensive, with the annual cost equating to an amount not much less than the average annual salary.
The importance of providing an equitable return to owners remains our principal aim and, to that end, we will continue to work with our partners in the Horsemen’s Group with a view to extracting a fair price from the two groups that benefit from the incredible amounts invested in racehorses by owners, namely the betting industry and racecourses.
We must never lose sight of the fact, however, that prize-money is not the only issue that matters to owners and an area that I am particularly interested in is the owners’ experience at the racecourse on those days when they have a runner.
The ROA has developed the Gold Standard Award as a way of identifying those racecourses that meet the many criteria that we believe owners should expect in return for providing the runners that make a race meeting happen. I make no apology for the fact that the Gold Standard sets a challenging benchmark and, indeed, is achievable only if the racecourse is truly committed to providing owners with exceptional service levels in all areas.
For this reason, the 18 courses holding the Gold Standard Award, which are identified in our prize-money tables, deserve much credit and we will continue to support them with a view to maintaining their current high standards.
A significant majority of courses, however, do not meet the Gold Standard criteria and it is these venues that I am keen for the ROA to work much more closely with in the coming months. I know that the Racecourse Association is supporting its members in this area and I truly believe that a partnership approach involving the ROA, RCA and racecourses is the best way of delivering the positive experience for owners that we all want to see on Britain’s racecourses.
We already have a small team, comprising council members and staff, who visit racecourses to review the facilities for owners and we plan to invite all racecourse managers to work much more closely with your representatives. Our team will provide details of best practice, discuss ideas and help to find pragmatic solutions to particular issues. They will also pass on the regular feedback – positive and negative – received from ROA members.
I have little doubt that most racecourse managers are as committed as we are to improving the owners’ raceday experience and I am therefore optimistic that they will welcome our invitation to support them in this area. Ultimately, I hope that this exercise results in the number of racecourses achieving the Gold Standard Award increasing but, for now, let’s all work together to make sure that at the end of a day’s racing, win or lose, the racehorse owner feels that they have been treated to the sort of day that their investment deserves.
30 April 2012