The ROA’s strategic objectives for 2013 may be broad in their aim but we make no apology for continuing to put prize-money right at the top of the agenda.

Prize-money is so important because it dictates the economic health of the whole industry, having a direct bearing on what most owners are willing to invest. This influences the number and quality of horses in training and the level of training fees, which, in turn, affects the profitability of trainers and what they pay their staff.

It has long been an objective of the ROA to establish formal agreements with racecourses on their contributions to prize-money. Rising income from media rights has increased the discretionary spend element of a racecourse’s funding and, as a result, there is now an urgent need to have contractual arrangements between the courses and the suppliers of their raw material – the horses.

Racecourses need to show willing if prize-money agreements are to be established

As the Horsemen’s Group binds owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys and stable staff together, only the willingness of the racecourses is needed to fulfil the objective that prize-money agreements will be established by the beginning of next year.

The betting industry’s contribution to racing also remains a crucial part of the funding equation and a further major objective for the ROA must be to ensure that racing does not let up on the government in its quest to capture a share of the money now bet offshore on British horseracing. This subject is, of course, entwined with the overall shortcomings of the outdated levy system and we will work with the rest of racing to attempt to achieve sensible commercial arrangements with betting operators combined with legislative change that would provide a long-term solution to the industry’s funding.

Racing should have more control over how it spends its income but for as long as the Levy Board continues to dictate its own policy for distributing levy income, we must ensure that we strengthen the principle whereby levy contributions to racecourses are in proportion with what individual racecourses themselves contribute to prize-money. We must also encourage the Levy Board and the BHA to address the disgrace of Sunday racing and apply pressure that sees the beginnings of a vast improvement in the quality of racing on the Sabbath.

Closer to home, the ROA must look at owners’ costs as well as income. To this end, we must join with the BHA in conducting a comprehensive review of the registration mechanism for owners, with the objective of achieving a much-simplified and less time-consuming system. Banking costs for owners should also come under the microscope, focussing on providing a cheaper alternative to those owners who require nothing more than the simplest banking facility.

Most of the work the ROA undertakes is to the benefit of all owners, not just ROA members. In the belief that non members get a free ride, we have no compunction in advocating schemes that favour ROA members. We must therefore ensure the BHA Development Fund and the soon-to-be-introduced BOBIS include aspects that favour our members, while we should explore whether the savings to ROA members on BHA registration fees could be further increased.

In our work with racecourses, we need to extend the benefits that come from the Racecourse Badge Scheme so that owners with smaller ownership shares still qualify for a reduced free-racecourse-entry benefit, while we must seek discounts for members on tickets for major race-meetings.

It is reassuring to see that the whole area of the owner’s race-day experience is now being accepted by racecourses as an important part of their marketing drive for this has long been in line with the thinking of the ROA’s Gold Standard Awards.

The ROA intends to make 2013 a year during which it steps up the benefits of membership and increases the pressure for better prize-money while reducing owners’ costs. Please stay aboard and enjoy the ride.