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The Horsemen’s Group

27 Jul

The Horsemen’s Group

There is a saying that all publicity is good publicity, so let us look at the publicity The Horsemen’s Group has had this year.

Paul Dixon, Chaiman of The Horsemen’s Group, produced an “End of season letter”, which can be found in it’s entirity here: http://www.horsemensgroup.co.uk/letter.html and this post is to see how 2012 has worked out so far.

“First up: prize money. Yes, it’s still not where we all want it to be. No, our campaign does not stop here. I firmly believe, though, that 2011 will go down in racing history as the year the decline was stopped.”

Decline stop did it? Worcester boycott certainly didn’t help that image, and nor did comments by Alan Morcombe, CEO of The Horsemens Group, in the Racing Post this July:

“What do I see from the Worcester situation?” Morcombe asks out loud. “I see trainers desperately trying to raise the profile of their financial plight and using the tariff as a tool.
What I would like to ask is given that The Horsemen’s Group constituents are Owners, Trainers, Jockers, Breeders and Stable Staff, how much input did they have in this strike? This looked to me as a vote of
No Confidence in The Horsemen’s Group. After todays events, I do love this quote:

“In my world if a racecourse isn’t prepared to pay an adequate price for a race it shouldn’t get that race, it should go to a racecourse that is. And yet racecourses have this concept that they own fixtures and therefore if they pay poor prize-money there are no consequences.
“We take the view, particularly with the declining horse population, that there will be more choice and therefore you will choose to support racecourses that step up to the mark.”

2 less courses to worry about now, good old Arena. Speaking of Arena Leisure, this is the same group that Paul Dixon was praising:

“Meanwhile, the All-Weather winter season is going to meet tariff in its entirety, with Arena Leisure making huge strides to upgrade its race programme at the same time.”

If only he had kept Northern Racing onside, now owners of Arena courses, when issuing his league table late 2011 and their attempts to exert influence over courses prize money:
Tony Kelly, MD of Northern Racing: “We are very disappointed and frustrated by these findings, which we believe are based on completely flawed assumptions. Importantly, the data on which the table is compiled does not take into account abandoned fixtures, which as the case of Newcastle demonstrates, arguably makes the list worthless.

“During the time in which the figures were assessed, Newcastle Racecourse lost two fixtures, including our most valuable raceday featuring the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. Together the two meetings carried £144,000 worth of executive contribution and had this prize money been taken into account then Newcastle would have been comfortably classified in the Associate Partner category.

“It is also worth pointing out that the list penalizes racecourses for not meeting tariff levels when the figures include three months’ worth of racing prior to the introduction of tariffs (Nov 2010 – Jan 2011).

“We have sought to make these points to the Horsemen’s Group on more than one occasion and we will do so again following publication of the list. However, I cannot hide my frustration at the accompanying negative coverage their press release unfairly brings to Newcastle and to Northern Racing.”

Talk about coming to bite you in the backside – Bye bye Folkestone, Bye bye Hereford.

RfC and Paul Dixon have been in the press recently, unfortunately not for the right reasons, but back in 2011 looks like Paul was trying to steal some of the BCS & Qipco Limielight, they do co-fund RfC after all. Maybe Paul was still a little riled that the encouragement of ownership was not a priority of RfC when it came to him giving a speech at the Asian Racing Conference.

Presentation:

4) Paul Dixon
Chairman The Horseman’s Group

Motivation for establishing Racing for Change How Racing Enterprises Limited works The campaign to make Tony McCoy BBC Sports Personality of the Year – why was it important, how was it achieved, what have been the results? Social media strategy http://www.lovetheraces.com Admission-free racing Changes to fixtures list How results are measured and what has been achieved to date.

Reading Charlie Brooks piece in Telegrapgh suggested it was anything but http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/horseracing/9418802/Paul-Dixons-self-indulgent-and-off-message-speech-at-Asian-Racing-Conference-did-huge-disservice-to-Britain.html

“Dixon spent thirteen of his fifteen-minute speech talking about the Horsemen’s Group; a subject of no interest to his audience whatsoever and to make things considerably worse his audience actually knew what his speech was meant to be about because it was clearly outlined in the conference brochure.

“The invitation was to speak about Racing For Change, which we thought was a very important topic. It was disappointing this proved not to be the case. There was never ambiguity,” said Andrew Harding, the secretary general of the Asian Racing Federation.

Dixon finally got around to mentioning Racing For Change during the last two minutes of his speech. Such dismissiveness was a pretty clear signal to the rest of the world as to his lack of respect for the focus of their conference ”

Oh…Paul Dixon was aware that the subject was Racing for Change from the 17th May when the organisers emailed him.  Question is, did he bother telling Rod Street & Racing for Change?

Paul Dixon in his letter stated this re working together with industry partners:

Finally, the Horsemen’s Group has nailed once and for all the theory that industry participants  find it hard to work together to achieve successful outcomes or that they lack a broad vision of where they want their industry to go. The vibrancy of HG board meetings, with representatives of all our constituent bodies offering educated, coherent views as to our future strategy and tactics is, I believe, the harbinger of bright days ahead for those of us who live and work in this great sport.

Well Alan Morcombe painted a different story this July:

The Horsemen’s Group were signatories to the deal but their’s was the last name to be added.

“I don’t want to be overly critical of anybody here, but the face-to-face negotiation was done by the BHA and racecourses,” Morcombe says. “The Horsemen’s Group were kept in the loop. I expect future talks with other bookmakers will include the Horsemen’s Group in the face-to-face negotiations and I wouldn’t exclude the BHA from that because they have a role to play.

Well what about the courses?  Surely the implementing of tariff has seen a rosy relationship between HG and RCA:

In May the Racecourse Association’s annual report referred to the process of creating the new structure for British racing having stalled, laying the blame at the Horsemen’s Group’s feet.

Morcombe says the RCA has been as stubborn as his organisation: “The fact that we reject an inadequate scheme that the racecourses support may be considered by them to be holding the process up. I say that’s just being sensible for horsemen. It would be easy for us to buy into a scheme that doesn’t work and the racecourses to applaud us and say what great guys we are. That’s not my job and it’s not what we should be doing.

“The RCA want the racecourses to have total control over all racing’s income and for us to have no control and we don’t accept that position.

“So we say what we need is normal commercial arrangements with you. If that means that we can have an upfront agreed share in your revenues as you grow them and you need us to support you in that growth then that’s fine.”

Always been told leave the best till last, well here you go:

Alan Morcombe  is involved in a number of companies, usual for a Director with the experience he has, but there’s one company that caught my eye, Ambrose Consultancy Ltd.  Here is an email I have sent to Alan (awm@horsemensgroup.co.uk) on three separate occasions, and he’s yet to return a number of calls I have made relating to this email:

Subject: FAO Alan W Morcombe – Horsemen Ltd & Ambrose Consultancy Limited – Related Party Disclosures

Dear Sirs,

I’m hoping you could shed some light on Related Party Disclosures noted in Horsemen Ltd Accounts Y/e 30/06/11.  Comments state that funds were paid to Ambrose Consultancy Ltd in 2010 (£4,440) and 2011 (£270,608) in accordance with agreements dated 26/04/10 and 27/05/11.

Given that Ambrose Consultancy Ltd was only formed in Apr 2010, could you please comment on the details of these “agreements”, and what work Ambrose Consultancy Ltd carried out in 2011 to cover commission, £53,699, consultancy fees, £206,721 and travel expenses £10,188.

Appreciate some details maybe of a sensitive nature, however an overview of the work carried out would go a long way to explaining these “agreements”, and the sums paid to a newco where “A W Morcombe is a director, and sole shareholder”

Kind regards

It would be nice to know that given the infighting between groups as shown above, that this Consultancy firm will not see any business go their way in 2012/13, as it doesn’t look like Alan Morcombe’s Ambrose Consultancy is doing much for it’s £270k.

So what next for Paul Dixon and Alan Morcombe, well I’ll leave you with a quote from Paul Bittar:

“The suggestion that the BHA should be more focused on ensuring racecourse compliance with Horsemen’s Group tariffs is an interesting one, given that the tariffs were set unilaterally by the Horsemen’s Group, essentially without discussion or consultation with the BHA or racecourses.

Looks like they’ll be spending alot of time talking to each other, wonder if Alan will waive the consultancy bill this year, and that Paul Dixon’s End Of Season Letter will read “Dear Alan”.

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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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