The British Horseracing Authority has launched a formal industry consultation regarding the future model for racecourse stewarding in Britain. The consultation aims to gather views on how to maintain the highest standards of racecourse decision-making as the sport modernizes and becomes increasingly complex to regulate.
This consultation comes soon after the BHA implemented the proposals of the Quinlan Review, which increased the independence of its judicial functions, including the disciplinary panel, which deals with referrals by stewards from the racecourse and appeals against the stewards' decisions.
The current model of stewarding involves a mix of Honorary Stewards—unpaid volunteers—and stipendiary stewards, who are full time, salaried members of BHA staff. A stewards' secretary assists the stewards on raceday with administrative support.
"Horse racing has relied on the massive commitment of honorary stewards throughout our history; people who are not only volunteers but also passionate participants in the grassroots of our sport and some of whom are owners," said Jamie Stier, chief regulatory officer for the BHA.
"In consulting on change, we seek to respect the contribution that our honorary stewards have made in the past and to listen carefully to the many participants right across our sport before deciding on the right direction for the future."
This consultation will be a two-stage process, beginning with the current first stage, a wide-ranging, eight-week industry consultation. Detailed recommendations will be developed by the BHA and the resulting options will be the subject of further consultation, involving the key stakeholders in racing.
The BHA will closely involve the tripartite partners in the Members' Agreement—the Racecourse Association and the Horsemen's Group—in the development of the final proposals.
"We want to continuously improve British horse racing at a time of rapid change for our sport, with two key areas being accountability and consistency," said Stier. "We do this at a time when prize money is increasing and there are increasingly complex challenges around the integrity and regulation of the sport.
"We have seen other major sports move to fully professional referees and we believe it is against this background that the time is right to consult to see what is the most appropriate model for taking the stewarding of horse racing forward in the future."