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Tag Archives: BHA

“end of the beginning” says Bittar. Well what about the beginning Paul?

Followers of this blog will realise I have had by doubts about the BHA Integrity Department in its previous form for some time.  We have had BHA Committee Members administering prohibited race day substances to horses under the impression they would pass a doping control test. We’ve seen panel hearing reports showing that Paul Scotney and Tim Morris didn’t think a base test was necessary which would have cleared a trainer of doping within weeks, but that trainer had to wait two years for the case to be resolved, and still then it wasn’t a satisfactory resolution.

Extracts from “Doping and Medical Control: AWOL within British Racing 2000-2009

 The RCVS even questions the validity of the BHA testing procedures;

“While it is evident from the BHA’s Guidelines that the sensitivity of the tests is in a process of continual development, the Committee is unable to speculate as to why tranexamic acid had not tested positive on horses to which Mr Main had administered it on previous occasions. However, it is satisfied that Mr Main believed at the time he administered the injection that Moonlit Path would not test positive for tranexamic acid.”

Further question marks over the effectiveness of doping control were raised in the recent allegation of milkshaking made against James Boyle. A baseline CO2 test would have enabled accurate conclusions to be drawn but that was deemed “unnecessary” by Paul Scotney, the former Director of Integrity Services, Compliance and Licensing, and Professor Tom Morris, then Director of Equine Science and Welfare.

Both Paul Scotney and Professor Tim Morris have left the British Horse Racing Authority in recent months, during a much needed reconfiguration of the BHA services and structure. Paul Bittar said “We are proud that British Racing is justifiably held in high regard on the subject, but we know there is no room for complacency.”

Extract from “Open Letter to BHA Director of Legal, Integrity and Risk

4)       Professor Morris said in his written statement that he believed that testing for tranexamic acid had been in place for some time. He also said that he was aware of only one other instance of a horse testing positive in March 2009, which was shortly after Moonlit Path’s positive test.

Obviously the tests upto to February 2009 were either too infrequent, or not upto standard.  Was there any noticeable change in testing procedures between 2003 and February 2009?

8)       The Committee carefully observed Mr Main when he was asked questions about the use of the term “pre-race check” and observed his obvious unease. Any disagreement Mr Main may have had with the BHA’s rules of racing did not justify him perpetuating a practice that he knew was designed to conceal from the BHA that tranexamic acid had been administered to a horse on a race day.

Extract from “Day 335 at the BHA House…

Paul Scotney will step aside from his full-time role with effect from 14th December 2012, but as part of a transition plan will remain a part of the BHA’s ability to protect the sport from corruption, providing advice on investigations and strategy.

BHA Chief Executive, Paul Bittar, said the decision for Paul Scotney to transition from his current full-time role was agreed mutually and arose during their discussions in reviewing the BHA Integrity operations, future needs and structure.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced today that Professor Tim Morris, Director of Equine Science and Welfare, is to leave the organisation. His departure forms part of the ongoing restructure of BHA services, led by Chief Executive Paul Bittar.

Paul Bittar, BHA Chief Executive, said:

“Reconfiguring the BHA services and structure is an evolutionary process and further work will be done with Tim in the coming weeks to imbed the new structure for Veterinary Operations combined with our important role in medication control.

Professor Tim Morris and Paul Scotney deemed further testing to establish a baseline TCO2 reading for the gelding as unnecessary. Their titles again; Director of Equine Science and Welfare and Director of Integrity Services, Compliance, and Licensing.

So how did the Mahmood Al Zarooni raids come about. Well Paul Bittar stated it was mix of random testing programme and intelligence.  The question journalists should be asking Bittar is during the period under Paul Scotney’s stewardship, how often was intelligence not acted upon or ignored? Six months after two former heads of departments leave the British Horseracing Authority, the biggest doping scandal to hit British racing is uncovered. That’s a worrying coincidence.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Overview of British Racing Seminar

With the arrival of Paul Bittar, the striking of commercial deal between British Racing and Betfair, I couldn’t think of a better time to attend the Overview of British Racing Seminar, so away I went to Norther Racing College, Doncaster.

Running Order

Robin Mounsey – Communications Manager, BHA
Subject – The British Horseracing Authority

Dr Paull Khan – Director of Racing, Weatherbys
Subject – Weatherbys

Sam Cone – Communications Officer, RCA
Subject – The Role Of Racecourses

Howard Wright – Journalist, The Racing Post
Subject – Racing and the Media

Lyn Williams – Disciplinary Team Manager, BHA
Subject – Rules Of Racing

Nigel Roddis – Development Director, Betting – REL
Subject – The Betting Industry

Caroline Turnbull – Education & Employment Manager, TBA
 Subject – The Breeding Industry

Alan Delmonte – Operations Director, HBLB
Subject – The Levy Board

Here are some of my notes and comments for each subject.

The British Horseracing Authority

The British Horseracing Authority was launched in 2007, merging of the core functions of BHB (Governance) and HRA (regulation) and Racing Enterprises Ltd the central commercial arm. Talk was very much Pre-Bittar and Post-Bittar here. Before his appointment, impression was that the sport authority was “fragmented” and pulling in different directions, no surprise when he started reeling off acronym after acronym, RCA (Race Course Associtation), ROA (Racecourse Owners Association), NTF (National Trainers Federation), PJA (Professional Jockeys Association), NASS (National Assocation of Stable Staff), TBA (Thoroughbred Breeders Assoctation), The Horsemen’s Group and The Jockey Club. Throw in The Horserace Betting Levy Board, Weatherbys and REL, then that is a bus load of chefs.

Theme which ran through the day is that many, if not all, expect the heady days of 2008 to be the norm, and are striving for a return of those glory days. You do learn through the day that these expectations are a pipedream, and the we are very currently going through a leveling out period.  Here are some stats, Racing’s key metrics as Robin put them:

2000/2008/2010

Horses 12,731/15,154/14,340
Owners 8,862/9,537/8,774
Fixtures 1,132/1,424/1,392
Races 7,400/9,494/9,566
Runners 78,102/98,014/92,025

More races in 2010, but less horses and less runners…problem is all there to see, but as mentioned later, once you increase the fixture lists and get involved in commercial deals which has a minimum requirement re fixtures, then it’s impossible to reduce.

Anyway, back to The BHA.  This was very much a Bittar Love In, Paul Bittar came in and handled the “Whip Crisis”, BHA is very much about showing Leadership and offering a Service, and you get the feeling that his role when in Australia is very much the role he will be carrying out here, Chief Strategy Officer; with responsibility for areas including media and broadcast rights, relations with the betting industry, industry funding and planning. “Clarification of Roles” looks like a main task that Bittar has ahead of him for the remainder of the year. Maybe there’s one acronym that is missing when it comes to Overview of British Horseracing Bodies – WALOS.

Weatherbys

In short, these get bloody everywhere.  Racing publications, Racecards in paper, racecards at courses, book compilations, breeding publications, Bloodstock Reports, Bloodstock Catalogues, iPad apps, Insurance, cheque books, credit cards, loans, bank accounts, and this is before you even get to the Racing Admin site – WOW!

Very impressed in what they do for racing, and given that they have a financial arm to the business, which is where they make their money, it’s very evident when it comes to marketing, apps and publications. Contract with British Racing to 2020, it is one part of the industry which I feel is very strong, and got the impression it was very well run.

Interesting point was the “Stalls Checklist”, they provide checklist to starter re trainers request for their horse, last in etc or rug.  This would be of some use to punters, and when discussed with Dr Paull Kahn, said this information was handled by BHA, and request would have to be made to them re publication.

The Role Of Racecourses

Put off from the off with this subject. Overview showed there was 4 All Weather Courses, and Arena/Northern courses were not merged to show the current state of ownership, but to be fair Sam did mention this during the presentation.  Again I was put off though by the amount of “you know”‘s coming from Sam, I counted 63 before I lost the will to continue tallying them up, petty maybe but as said, put me off.

Points re Raceday Management is that CoC are told to avoid Firm going at all costs as increases likelihood of injuries, and they should always work to getting the ground to as close to “Good” as possible, unlucky you fast ground lovers!

59 of 60 are signed upto this Association, Towcester deciding against too, and re Great Leighs, unsure why failed license application.

Alot of work being done to try to bring in non race day business, conferences etc, as well as the usual promotions for race days.

Personally feel it’s a nothing organisation, with racecourses split between a number of groups, and independent owners then I struggle to grasp how they could have an impact on the Racecourse/Raceday Management.

Racing and the Media

Howard Wright was sporting a Ronseal look, but this presenting certainly didn’t do what it said on the tin, more Racing Post than Racing and the Media.  He’s Vice Chairman of Northern Racing College, and has been speaker on this course for more than a decade, and I very much doubt that the presentation has changed over those years, other than to bask in the demise of The Sportsman.

Racing Post only daily paper, I think he may have reached Sam’s quota, but that was what he was looking to drill home.  Mentioned how they were worried about the introduction of The Sportsman, but scorned their layout and mythical bet headline on first copy – Loony Toon (George Graham 20s into 5/4 for Newcastle job).  Took pleasure in highlighting that come October 2006 the paper was set up like RP, racing news at front, sport at back and improved all in line cards, but too little too late.

Couple of interesting pieces “Racing Post driving force behind Sports Betting” – choked on my ginger nuts I did, and also the arrival of Racing + to the table.  With RMG (Racecourse Media Group) having 49% share in Racing+, Racing Post do not want to run pieces that are pro Racing UK and their courses.  He said that it’d be very interesting if RUK Courses would sign up with Racing + given the lack of exposure in Racing Post they have experienced as a result.  Only mentioned BBC/C4 deal during Q&A, stating that be very surprised if reached 5m viewers for Grand National next season.  Never mentioned Social Media once, no surprise given he’s not tweeted #unfollowed

Rules of Racing

Lyn Williams seems to be another who sleeps in a “In Bittar We Trust” vest here due to Bittar’s handling of the “Whip Crisis”, but firstly stewards.  Lyn focused on Race Riding, and roles of the stewards. They have a 5 minute window post race to review and see if any infringements have taken place, and they are broken down into 4 categories; Dangerous, Careless, Improper and Accidental.  If actions deemed to be Dangerous, then the horse is disqualified, any of the other 3 then race to be reviewed for interference and if required alteration of placings.

Lyn pointed out, on a number of occasions, that consistency is the key here when applying these rules, and that alot of effort is made in working with stewards, jockeys and associations to ensure that the decision-making is consistent throughout the process.  This is what Paul Struthers complained about last week, where stewards are not going to overturn the decisions of other stewards on a regular basis.  However, appeals have been more successful in 2011 than 2010.  2010 Appeals 22, Successful 7 2011 Appeals 33, Successful 14.  Press & PJA never focuses on the fact that 99.5% of Racecourse Decisions are accepted, just the successful appeals.

Hyped up BHA Site saying that their website is the “Finest of any regulatory body in the world”, but not one for Rule Jargon ie doesn’t quote Rule number after Rule number, and very much likes to keep things simple. Re Whip, accepted that they “got it wrong” on penalties, and praised Bittar for taking the flak from the off for it. Videos at end of presentation was of Casella Park re non-trier rule, and of Richard Hughes on Barney Curley runner Avisio for careless riding.  No questions which disappointing as would have liked to ask re the “consultations” that took place before implementation of initial Whip Rules, and also the boycott @ Worcester.

The Betting Industry

Presentation rushed a little due to time constraints, and don’t have copies of the slides which is disappointing, will try to get copy and update later.

The Breeding Industry

Another that was slightly rushed, even rushed I thought was very interesting.

Anyone can breed a racehorse, obviously there’s an element of skill to it, just as there is an element of luck to it also, but anyone can breed a racehorse.  TBA supplies 52% of horses in training in UK from 3962 mare owners in 2011.  81% of those owners only have 1-2 mares, and 0.3% have 31+ mares, them are the commercial stud farms, your Juddmonte and Darley etc.  As I said earlier 2008 was when the bubble popped, and in 2008 there was over 4500 mare owners in UK, 10000 in Ire, in 2011 that fell to 3962, and 7200 respectively, and similar story re Active broodmares.  Foal production in 2008, UK 5900 Ire 12000, 2011 UK 4502, Ire sub 7000. With that in mind, there has to come a point where the reduction of fixture list becomes the only viable option to keep the races competitive. Even though numbers are dwindling, Bloodstock sales in 2011 are impressive.  Increase in turnover for all sales companies, Increase in 15% in combined average of sales to 26,634.

The breeding programme itself is interesting too.  With the need now for early speedier types when it comes to the flat horses, so covering cycle starts earlier, to ensure that coming the sales they are seen as on paper the early and speedy type which many purchasers seek, obviously the commercial studs can play the long game.  Like any involvement in racing, gambling aspect is never far away and breeding is just that; “Breeding is a futures game and the matings for horses sold in 2011 were planned in 2008 so you have to have the foresight to have horses by the right sires” John Warren, 2011

I would like to highlight the 18-35 Membership which TBA run, as I feel that for £50, you can’t go far wrong with the package they are offering to anyone aged 18-35 year olds with an interesting in learning more about the bloodstock industry:

The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association – 18-35 Membership Details

The Levy Board

Punters are a big aspect of racing, yet as many will testify, we are not a voice that is regularly heard when it comes to decisions that impact this sport, very surprising given that 66% of funds pumped back into racing is from gambling.

The Levy was brought in to compensate the loss of income to racecourses when LBO opened in early 1960s, and we saw a growing trend until period of 2007/08 to 2010/11, falling from £115.3m to £59.5m, main reason for this is Bookmakers moving offshore to avoid paying the Levy.  An extra £4.2m in prize-money this year compared to 2011, but you do get the impression that the days of the Levy are very much numbered, and once again we turn to Paul Bittar, and the “Clarification of Roles”.

HBLB and The Horsemens Group were not involved in meaningful discussions relating to the commercial deal between BHA and Betfair, and I get the feeling however loud they cry, they won’t be involved in any meaningful discussions going forward.  Yes they will be there to sign off on deal and sing from a hymnsheet, but that hymnsheet is very much BHA’s and the coming months will no doubt see changes throughout the structure of British Racing. As at today, HBLB have not actually received the funds from Betfair relating to this deal, they are working under the impression that BHA will transfer the funds to them for distribution, but could this be the first of many roles that Paul Bittar will clarify, and ultimately do in-house?

The Overview of British Racing Seminar is well worth the attendance fee of £90, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to continually improve their understanding of the industry to a point.  However, whereas through years of recession many industries have streamlined, Racing has seen a flood of Associations and Groups were roles are not clearly defined, and their voice is not united. Tonight, and for the foreseeable future, I will sleep in a “In Bittar We Trust” vest, as we could very well be about to witness a much-needed purge.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Open letter to the BHA #StickSaga

Open letter to the BHA

#StickSaga

Dear BHA,

I have a request, ultimately simple request given that all the information is held either by the courses or TurfTrax themselves and it revolves around the application of the Going Stick.

In June 2011 email dialogue with Mike Maher, then and still current Manager Director of TurfTrax Limited I discussed the current use of the Going Stick following twitter conversation with Sulekha Varma, then Clerk Of Course at Nottingham racecourse.  The fall out of these dialogues are as follows:

Disclosure of courses using, and not using, “Gridzone”

At Nottingham Sulekha would take three readings per furlong, “Grid”, and then the Reading would be a reflection of this, other courses do not as per Mike’s email, “About 20 of the racecourses use the grid system that you have described below, which is something that we set up as an additional service some years ago.”

Disclosure of reading points where “Gridzone” are not in use

Mike stated the following with regards to courses not using the “Gridzone” method; “The courses who do not use the grid system are all instructed to take readings in a methodical way from the same areas each time so that the averages are comparable at each course over time.”

Stick readings when and how

All courses, as per Mike’s email are required todo the following; “Every racecourse is required to give an average reading on the day of the race and prior to declaration stage as part of the British Horseracing Authority �rules of racing�.”  As such any course that doesn’t fulfil this task, can we have explanations as to why the reading wasn’t carried out.  When they are published, can courses state if the ratings are the readings of “Gridzone” method or not.

Post race readings

We have seen as recently as Sunday where weather conditions deteriorated and no doubt ground ease.  Should courses not seek to confirm this in the form of a reading post race.

As said all this data is currently stored within BHA or TurfTrax database, why can’t this info be made public to all.

Kind regards

Dan Kelly

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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