Senior figures from across the horseracing spectrum have unanimously agreed upon the need for “serious and radical changes” to make long-term improvements to the industry.
A two-day strategy meeting in London, aimed at addressing some of the sport’s critical issues, concluded on Wednesday with up to 18 senior industry figures agreeing the need for “innovation in the racing product from 2024” and a “package of measures to begin to address competitiveness” from next year.
The initial two-day meeting was attended by leaders from across the sport’s main bodies of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Great British Racing (GBR), Thoroughbred Group (TG), the Racecourse Association (RCA) and racecourses.
The strategy group also heard a presentation from Peter Savill, who chaired the British Horseracing Board – a forerunner to the BHA – for six years between June 1998 and July 2004.
Leaders agreed that the sport’s strategy for 2024 and beyond should include a focus on significant innovation in the way that racing is presented, in particular the sport’s best races, with a view to improving competitiveness, growing attendances, ownership and the supply of horses, and engaging new audiences both domestically and internationally.
Additionally, all parties agreed to ‘improve the sharing of data across the sport’.
A joint statement, issued by the BHA, who will be responsible for development and delivery of the strategy, read: “An extremely positive meeting has been held where there was a shared acceptance of the challenges facing the sport and agreement of the need to work together to fix them. The industry leaders present were unanimous on the need for serious and radical changes to make long-term improvements to the industry.
“The result is an agreement on areas of focus for a strategy which will be developed in the coming months, underpinned by all parties agreeing to share data to inform decision making, with the aim of building a sustainable model for British racing and identifying areas for growth.
“There was also an agreement that action is required to begin to address competitiveness in the short term, and a package of measures will be developed with this objective.”
The statement added that areas of focus will include working with betting operators, broadcasters and other partners to optimise growth, improving the owner experience and encouraging greater investment in ownership, in particular through affordable investment, and the organisation of the racing product, including the fixture list and race programme.
Moreover, a package of initiatives will be developed to begin to address competitiveness of the racing product in 2023. This package will include looking at the composition of the race programme, scheduling and timing, alongside extending initiatives such as flexible race programming.