The senior leadership team of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has stated that it remains united with stakeholders to address UK racing’s pending challenges.
The statement follows questions raised about a ‘lack of confidence in the regulatory body‘, following recent disputes with counterpart organisations over its handling of controversies and disciplinary actions taken.
The summer schedule saw the BHA criticised for allowing the Whip Review Committee to penalise and suspend jockey Jim Crawley for his winning ride on Hukum at Ascot’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes race.
Furthermore, last week the BHA clashed openly with the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), as the governing body refused to re-allow saunas on racecourses as a jockey weight allowance solution.
The clash over the use of saunas saw BHA CEO, Julie Harrington, express surprise at the PJA’s reactions, and emphasise that engagement was needed with multiple stakeholders to find a solution.
Joined by Chief Operations Officer (COO) Richard Wayman and Communications Director Greg Swift, Harrington and the BHA leadership team “rejected the suggestion that the sport lacks confidence in its regulator”.
Responding to questions raised by the Racing Post, Harrington stated that distinctions must be made between stakeholders’ dissatisfaction with specific outcomes and their overall confidence in the BHA.
Harrington mentioned that the BHA is an open organisation that engages face-to-face with stakeholders and that “no one had raised concerns to them”.
COO Richard Wayman acknowledged that it’s common for governing bodies to face criticism but emphasised the BHA’s commitment to building trust and confidence.
Wayman told the Racing Post: “Looking back over the number of years I’ve been here, there will always be dissatisfaction with the governing body for some reason or another, and we have to do everything we can as a leadership team to gain confidence and belief in us.”
“We work very hard to do that, but it’s easy – when things aren’t going your way – to say it’s the BHA again, and that’s just the way it is, unfortunately.”
For the remainder of 2023, the BHA is focused on putting forward comprehensive reforms to the UK racing’s Levy System. The framework is due to be reviewed in 2024, as pledged by the government which has acknowledged “the symbiotic relationship between the racing and gambling industries”.