On the 3rd April, the Jockey Club will delegate its responsibility for regulating horseracing to HRA, the Horseracing Regulatory Authority. After 250 years of being identified with the regulation of the sport the establishment of HRA is a significant point in the Club’s history.
In the following statement, Julian Richmond-Watson, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, talks of the circumstances which caused the original launch date of HRA to be delayed, the conditions under which the Jockey Club supports a merger between Regulation and the Governing Body and what the future holds for the Jockey Club.
Julian Richmond-Watson, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club:
"Following discussions with Sports Minister Richard Caborn the Jockey Club announced plans in 2003 to establish an independent regulatory body. That announcement was welcomed by both government and the racing industry. Had it not been for the reversal suffered by BHB in the European Court in the autumn of 2004, HRA would have been established in January 2005. However, that set back raised such serious question marks about the future funding for British racing that the Jockey Club was unable, at that time, to conclude arrangements with the relevant parties to secure the funding both of HRA and of a pension scheme deficit."
"HRA now goes ahead under a slightly revised structure to that which we originally intended, but it is a structure which enables HRA to meet the key criteria of independent regulation. Chaired by former Director General of the OFT, John Bridgeman, together with fellow director Ben Gunn, whose appointments were made in conjunction with by DCMS, the Levy Board and BHB, the Board of HRA has transparent independence as well as a wealth of regulatory experience. I wish them well."
"We see the establishment of HRA, a stand alone division of the Jockey Club, as a transitional move towards complete separation from the Jockey Club in due course. When that will take place will depend upon the outcome of the current discussions regarding the merging of the roles of Regulation and those of the Governing Body. The Jockey Club has no issue with the principle of combining the two roles and I believe that HRA provides an excellent basis from which to develop a robust body that sustains public confidence in the integrity of racing through the essential independence of regulation and provides leadership for the industry."
"For over 250 years the Jockey Club has been associated with the regulation of racing in this country. The establishment of HRA follows a period of sustained evolution with regard to the regulatory role, nonetheless it is undoubtedly a turning point in the Club’s own history. The Jockey Club remains totally committed to promoting the interests of horseracing. The absence of regulatory responsibilities provides us with the freedom and opportunity to forge closer working relationships with our commercial activities; primarily the 13 tracks which comprise our racecourse group (RHT) together with our property and land management company (Jockey Club Estates)."
Notes for Editors:
The sequence of events leading up to the establishment of HRA.
October 2002 – Christopher Spence, then Senior Steward, and Christopher Foster, Executive Director, meet with the Minister for Sport and discuss ways in which the integrity of racing can be better protected, including improvements to the regulation of betting, and evolving the Regulatory structure to demonstrate greater independence.
February 2003 – The Jockey Club announces a major initiative in proposing that responsibility for the regulation of racing be delegated to a new independent board.
November 2004 - The Jockey Club announce John Bridgeman (Chairman designate) and Ben Gunn as independent directors of the prospective regulatory authority following a transparent appointment process involving BHB, the Levy Board and DCMS.
November 2004 – Uncertainty over the future funding of racing following the ECJ judgement in the BHB / William Hill case results in a delay to the proposed transfer of the regulation of racing from the Jockey Club to the Horseracing Regulatory Authority (HRA). It had been due to take place on 1st January 2005.
January 2005 – The Regulatory Board of the Jockey Club is reconstituted and those persons identified as independent directors of HRA appointed to the Regulatory Board.
April 2005 – John Bridgeman is appointed Chairman of the Jockey Club’s Regulatory Board.
December 2005 – The Jockey Club announce plans to launch HRA in April 2006 and that Dr Peter Webbon will be Chief Executive of HRA.
April 2006 – Launch of HRA.
RHT (Racecourse Holdings Trust) currently owns and operates a diversified portfolio of 13 racecourses in the UK. RHT aims to enhance the attractiveness and value of British racing through the consistent delivery of excellent programmes, the provision of superior facilities for racegoers and racing professionals, and a commitment to the highest standards of turf husbandry, safety and welfare. RHT is increasingly generating revenues from its Events and Leisure activities. It has attractive, modern conference, events and banqueting facilities at all its racecourse venues, which include Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom and Newmarket.
Jockey Club Estates is responsible for the management and administration of 4500 acres of land in and around Newmarket, including 2800 acres of training grounds and over 80 residential and commercial properties. In January 2006 Jockey Club Estates purchased a further 500 acres of training grounds in Lambourn and recently announced major investment plans for the training facilities there.
All profits generated by the Jockey Club's commercial activities are invested in activities which promote the quality, diversity and integrity of British racing.