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Monday 17 June 2019

Is British Horse Racing Headed For Oblivion?

As Royal Ascot draws near one of the leading figures in British Horse Racing has issued a stark warning about the future of the sports. BlackBook.com.au reports on David Redvers feelings that the sport is ‘teetering on the edge of oblivion.’ 

Redvers made the comments ahead of Royal Ascot, and he says that his feeling stems from the fact that steps haven’t been made to open up ownership of racehorses to a broader audience. Redvers, who was named bloodstock agent of the year back in November, and who manages the racing interest of Sheikh Fahad made the comments in a blog post on his Tweenhills stud. He thinks that British Horse Racing doesn’t compare to the likes of Japan or Australia. 

“I keep asking myself, how did we get it so wrong?” Redvers says. “How can a country like Australia, with 40% of our population, be running away with the prize while we have a £17m deficit in our funding and our industry relies almost entirely on the patronage of rich foreigners?” 

He acknowledges that the way racing is funded in those countries has a part to play in their success but still feels the problem lies back home. Those countries use a system of syndicates and shared ownership that just isn’t possible in this country. He feels that British Horse Racing tends to fall back and rely on the ultra-wealthy few that fund their investments through horse racing in the UK. And this is a model that just isn’t sustainable.

“At any moment, our industry could be put in catastrophic peril through the loss of just one of these major players. Falling prize money, ill health or simply a change of heart could precipitate this at any time.” 

He thinks that British Officials could do a lot more to attract the kind of players that they get in Australia and Japan, and thinks that not only do they do nothing to attract the shared owners and syndicates but that at times it seems they deliberately go out of their way to be unhelpful. 

Redvers says that there are such problems and cites an example of the fact that Shiekh Fahad has to run his horses under the banner of ‘Qatar Racing’ because despite it being a joint enterprise between him and his two brothers, when he asked if all their names could be displayed on the owners cards, he was told that there simply wasn’t room to do so. Redvers states that this is in complete contrast to Japan and Australia where on their race cards, they display the names of all of the owners so that they all get visibility. Such a simple fix could go a long way to helping the sport. 

The British Horse Racing authority has, so far, not commented on the racecard name issue, but does accept that there is significant red tape that needs to be addressed and they have pledged to try and reduce the barriers being placed on owners.

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