British Breeders Could Lose Seat on Horseracing Board

From Racenews
Nigel Elwes announced Tuesday, January 8, that he would "consider his position" as chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association if the breeders' trade body does not retain its seat on the British Horseracing Board after a review of the structure of racing's governing body is complete.

Speaking at the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association's annual general meeting at the Churchill Hotel in London, Elwes pointed out that breeders employ 12,000 people and house some 9,000 mares and 200 EBF registered stallion on around 160,000 acres in Britain.

Elwes said: "The only organization to get near us in terms of investment in the industry is the Racecourse Association but I doubt they could match our investment of some £2 to £3 billion."

He added: "A businessman in the commercial world would not make a substantial investment in a company without requiring a seat on the board. So why should we be any different? Unlike racehorse owners, we cannot easily sell-up when times get tough.

"And compare our contribution to central funds with other racing bodies. Breeders provide prize money through the EBF of nearly £800,000, we fund veterinary research to the tune of £190,000 a year, and we put £29,000 into BHB International Marketing and a further £31,000 into political lobbying and staff training.

"That makes a grand total of £1.05 million a year which compares well with the contributions to central funds made by other trade bodies, such as the trainers (who provide £670,000 a year).

"It would clearly be a grave mistake if we were to lose our seat on the BHB. The TBA has made a major contribution to the racing and breeding industry in recent years and must be allowed to continue to do so, especially because as breeders, we are able to look at the big picture, without any particular sectional interest."

Elwes added that TBA's blueprint for the future, 'The Way Forward', would not work if the association did not have BHB representation. 'The Way Forward' suggests that a Foal Levy should be collected under the auspices of the BHB, based on stallion nomination costs, to give the TBA a more stable and equitable source of funding.

In the event that the TBA did not keep its BHB seat, Elwes said: "From a personal point of view, I would be forced to consider my position as chairman of the TBA because a decision to remove us from the BHB would show that I had failed to get the message across of our importance to the industry.

"I would also regard such a decision as a vote of no confidence by the other BHB directors in my ability to represent the Industry in a non-sectarian way."

He warned that newspaper headlines of "TBA Sacked From The BHB" would convey the wrong message to new and established breeders in Britain and commented: "There are plenty of other countries that would welcome the employment and investment which they (the breeders) provide."

Speaking on efforts to reach agreement on the 41st Levy, Elwes said: "There is little doubt that bookmakers' profits have been substantially increased by the change to gross profits tax and the government has clearly stated that these benefits must be (and I quote) 'fairly shared with racing'.

"The BHB has presented a strong case to justify the need for extra funding and has made a fair and simple offer to sell its pictures and data to bookmakers based on a repeat of the current Levy Scheme without the 'rate cap'."

He continued: "The racing industry must be encouraged to prosper. It supports some 60,000 jobs mainly in rural areas; it generates £500 million in tax for the Exchequer and accounts for about 70% of all betting turnover.

"We should now be looking to work with the bookmakers -- our customers -- so that we continually improve the product for our mutual benefit. I know I am an optimist but I still believe we will achieve this relationship once the current feuding comes to an end."