BHA tightens syndicate regulations to ‘support public confidence’

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced plans to tighten regulations of syndicates and racing clubs in order to ‘support public confidence’.

Central to the enhancement of the regulations is a strengthening of the Code of Conduct for Syndicates. First introduced in 2017, the Code requires syndicates to provide members with a contract covering specific areas in order to advertise publicly or charge a management fee.

Annual reviews of a proportion of contracts will be conducted in order to ensure and monitor compliance with the Code, which will also be extended to racing clubs as well as syndicates.

Syndicates will also be required to disclose the percentage shares held by each individual member, who in turn will be able to view their own recorded shareholders through the BHA’s Racing Administration system, which the authority intends to launch in early 2022.

The plans will be developed and trialled in collaboration with Syndicators and Club Managers in order to ensure ‘the processes and systems that support the implementation of the measures are effective, facilitate BHA regulation and simplify ownership administration’.

“It is vital for the future of our sport that we are able to attract and retain racehorse owners,” said Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer at the BHA. “Syndicates and racing clubs clearly have a pivotal role to play in those efforts.

“The consultation responses confirmed that the sport has many extremely well-run syndicates and racing clubs who give their members exemplary levels of service. It is crucial that the public can continue to have confidence in syndicates and racing clubs, which these measures have been designed to support.

“My thanks go to all of those who took part in the consultation and took the time to offer the feedback which has been central in devising this important package of measures.”

The BHA’s planned restructuring of regulations builds on the existing oversight of shared ownership, which includes requirements for the registration of all prospective managers, promoters or administrators of syndicates or racing clubs.

This registration process will be enhanced to include ‘further information’ regarding financial arrangements, and if a syndicate wins a significant amount of prize money, the BHA will request details on how and when this will be paid to syndicate members.

Charlie Liverton, Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) Chief Executive, said: “Racehorse owners contribute over £30m a month to the rural economy and whether they are sole owners, in a Partnership with friends and family, or part of a syndicate, their retention is critical to the future of the sport.

“Shared ownership in horse racing is thriving across many racing jurisdictions and ensuring that those joining a syndicate or racing club have confidence in our sport is crucial. The ROA recognises this consultation as an important piece of work to build public confidence and join what is the greatest thrill – ownership of a racehorse.”

The implementation of the new rules follows a consultation on the issue in the autumn of 2020, forming one of the nine goals for the British racing recovery plan.

This consultation aimed to examine the ‘current risks and opportunities of shared ownership,’ and how regulatory and administrative measures could be enhanced and improved to address these risks.

Following further engagement with stakeholders, the industry intends to introduce 10 new measures, including the ones discussed above, as part of a ‘phased implementation plan’ over the next 12 months.

“The consultation conducted by the BHA confirms the outstanding ownership experience available to members of syndicates and clubs,” added Dan Abraham, Chairman of the Racehorse Syndicates Association (RSA).

“The BHA’s review and strengthening of the regulations related to shared ownership should even further enhance the public’s confidence. The appeal of Syndicates and Clubs is stronger than ever and the RSA welcomes the BHA’s approach to provide increased protection for members as well as Syndicators and Club Managers.”

In other news for racehorse owners, the BHA is moving forward with plans for all stakeholders to return to English and Scottish tracks from 29 March, in line with the government’s roadmap for the reading of UK lockdown restrictions.

Owners will return to the stands in a phased, risk-managed approach’, which will be followed by a review of conditions on 12 April, after which the BHA hopes to allow six horse-owner representatives to attend races.

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