BHA should have final say over fixture lists – ROA president

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The ROA president called for the BHA to have control over the fixture list

 By Bill Barber 12:00pM 28 JUN 2016 

RACEHORSE OWNERS ASSOCIATION president Nicholas Cooper has called for the BHA to have ultimate control of the fixture list in his first speech in the role at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel in London.

He said there should be safeguards in the process for both horsemen and racecourses but that there would be greater harmony if the BHA had the final say.

Cooper told ROA members and industry figures: “Only the governing authority is in a position to stand above individual racecourses and racecourse groups – in fact, to stand above all the interest groups – to make objective judgements while pulling all the many strings together on fixtures and the race programme.

“Racing could then end the ludicrous geographical clashes of meetings and the allocation of fixtures could be based on a system that creates maximum benefit for the sport as a whole, while spreading the horse population in such a way that very small fields and uncompetitive racing would be a thing of the past.”

Vital role to play

Cooper said owners had a vital role to play in the sport’s strategy for growth and that the ROA was supporting the nationwide initiative built around experiencing the thrill of owning a racehorse through syndication.

He said: “This campaign will involve the development of an online central ownership hub that illustrates the adventure that surrounds owning a racehorse and will explain how to get involved. And, in the spirit of unity, racecourses have agreed to play their part in promoting ownership to racegoers.”

Maintaining the theme of unity, Cooper said he was optimistic about what the sport could achieve.

“There is no doubt racing’s new relationship has allowed us to send the right message to government,” he said ” and the government has in turn given us the support we so desperately need to alter the sport’s funding structure.”

Cooper said the sport would not be immune from the effects of leaving the European Union but that state aid legislation had hampered racing’s efforts to gain more income from bookmakers in the past, a loophole that could now be closed.

He went on: “We can also look forward to the setting up of a horseracing authority for the purpose of distributing this money throughout racing without the sort of bookmaker involvement that has so illogically been pivotal to the levy system for the past 60 years.

“And we can also look forward to putting together a serious plan for the Tote so that British racing, working as one, obtains a pool betting licence when Betfred’s exclusive licence expires in 2018.”

Boardroom changes

Yvette Dixon will replace her husband Paul on the board of the Racehorse Owners Association following this year’s election.

Justin Wadham was re-elected after topping the poll of five candidates while Steven Astaire will rejoin the board after a break of 12 months due to the constitutional changes to board membership.

Paul Dixon was one of two former presidents of the ROA to step down from the board at the annual meeting along with Rachel Hood. Also stepping down was former vice-president Tony Hirschfeld.

Cooper offered his congratulations to the three successful candidates.

He added: “I warmly welcome Yvette Dixon who joins the board for the first time, while Justin Wadham will be continuing his immensely valuable work after being re-elected – and we welcome back Steven Astaire who stood down after 25 years of dedicated service in 2015 and returns after just 12 months.”

Also joining the ROA board will be two appointed members, Patricia Pugh, the owner of Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Altior and Chris Wright, whose best horses include Culture Vulture and Chriselliam.

Former champion trainer Richard Hannon snr has become the ninth recipient of the Racehorse Owners Association’s annual Chris Deuters Award.

The award, named in honour of the late former ROA president Chris Deuters, was presented after the organisation’s annual meeting in London.

Horse Racing News | Racing Post

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