'Code of Practice' Implemented in Great Britain

The British Jockey Club announced Tuesday a first-ever bloodstock industry code of practice that spells out the right way to buy and sell horses. It means those who are found to have broken any of the eight guidelines, which take effect Aug. 1, could be punished.

The code of practice applies to all those who buy and sell bloodstock and stallion shares and nominations, including agents, trainers, or any other party that represents an owner or purchaser. The Jockey Club has taken action because of condemnatory newspaper articles that followed a judge's comments during a court case at the end of last year.

It formed an industry working group headed by Philip Freedman, chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, and solicited input.

The code of practice sets out the principles which apply to all sales of bloodstock and sales of stallion shares and nominations, be they private sales or sales at public auction, ensuring that sales of bloodstock in Britain set and maintain a high standard of integrity and transparency, which will safeguard the interests of vendors, consignors, bloodstock agents, owners, trainers, and the sales companies," the document says.

The code has been adapted from Federation of Bloodstock Agent guidelines, but that organization can't apply meaningful sanctions.

The code sets out what will happen to those who break the rules. If the Jockey Club is satisfied there has been a breach of this code of practice, it is likely to consider this to be contrary to the integrity, proper conduct, or good reputation of horse racing, and the persons involved, whether bound by the Rules of Racing or not, may be banned from British racecourses and other licensed premises."

The code deals with agents representing their principal's best interests, bans secret profits, outlaws undeclared conflicts of interest, orders the disclosure of luck money," and calls for transparency in all dealings.

We were aware that there were some bullets that needed to be bitten, and the code's very existence is a major step forward," said John Maxse, director of public relations for the Jockey Club. This wasn't the first time transactions in the bloodstock industry had been questioned, and we felt it provided an opportunity to ask the industry's various parties to come together to see if we could do something which could increase confidence in the transparency of dealings."

Click Here to See Complete Text of English Code of Practice (Click on 2004 Press Releases)