Mathea Kelley

BHA Working on Strategies After 'Brexit' Vote

British racing has been proactive in considering implications of a vote to leave EU.

Following the June 23 referendum in which Great Britain voted to leave the European Union, stakeholders in the Thoroughbred industry are working to ensure their interests are represented as the nation enters a time of transition and uncertainty. One is the British Horseracing Authority, the official governing body of racing.

"The BHA will work closely with government contacts, including in particular officials from (Department for Media, Culture and Sport) and (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), as well as other sporting bodies, to represent the interests of British horse racing in the discussions and decisions that will follow on from today's result," Will Lambe, director of corporate affairs for the British Horseracing Authority said.

Thursday's historic referendum and unexpected 52%-48% outcome caused Britain's pound to drop to its lowest level since 1985 and also impacted global economies, including the United States stock market, which nosedived. David Cameron also announced his resignation as prime minister of Britain.

Lambe said that while it's too early to assess the overall impact of the vote on the Britain's Thoroughbred industry as a whole, racing has been proactive in considering the implications of a vote to leave the EU—known as "Brexit" (British Exit)—and identifying what areas of the industry would be affected, such as trade, betting regulation, equine welfare, the movement of horses, and employment laws.

"The expectation is that there will not be a substantial impact on most of these areas, or the overall regulation and running of the sport, certainly in the short term," Lambe said. "DMCS is continuing to work towards the replacement of the (Horserace Betting Levy, an arm of the DMCS) by April 2017. This work is at an advanced stage in a number of areas, with significant groundwork already laid, and the key piece of domestic and primary legislation which provides for an income stream for British racing from all forms of betting activity, including that through offshore remote betting operators, has already been passed.

"It is likely that there will still be a requirement for some degree of European clearance, but this will still be based on the clear precedent in France."

Lambe said the replacement of the Levy remains a government commitment, "with full cross-party backing and support right across the Conservative Party. There is strong, and still growing, recognition of the sport's economic, cultural, and social importance right across the country."

Ahead of Thursday's referendum, Many British bookmakers pegged the "leave" vote with little chance of succeeding, including Betfair, a British-based betting exchange that owns Televison Games Network in the U.S. Betfair had the "remain" camp with an 80% chance of winning the vote.

Newmarket-based trainer Hugo Palmer tried to put outcome in perspective when on June 24 he tweeted: "The frustating point that everyone is missing is that this vote doesn't mean we are 'out'. It means the very long process of getting out now begins.

"It's not as simple as cancelling your season ticket because you think the team sucks!"