ROA President Rachel Hood

The new President of the Racehorse Owners Association has called for a drastic overhaul of horse racing’s fixture list and the creation of three tiers for the sport.

Rachel Hood, whose radical action plan results from the massive drop in funding of prize-money from the Levy, said: “We must take matters into our own hands in dealing with problems that are getting worse by the day.”

Making her inaugural speech as President at the ROA’s annual general meeting in London on June 23, she said that, while the number of programmed fixtures had increased by 25 per cent over the last ten years, the Levy’s budgeted contribution to prize-money was now lower. Owners were being badly affected because new media rights being paid by bookmakers to racecourses were not matching the decline in the Levy and racecourses were not obliged to pay a proportion of their new income into prize-money.

“Our situation demands immediate and radical solutions,” she told the audience of ROA members and racing industry leaders.

“It demands that the so-called fixture criteria – which has coincided with a catastrophic decline in the Levy – is discontinued. It demands we devise a fixture list that is based primarily on the best the sport has to offer, that the Levy is spent almost entirely on sustaining these fixtures and that fixtures which cater for very moderate horses should be financed by the betting industry.”

Rachel Hood suggested that jump racing needed only “fine tuning”, but that the Flat required radical measures. Under her plan, ‘Premier’ and ‘Middle’ tier fixtures would have to comply with the prize-money tariffs of the Horsemen’s Group as well as with race planning requirements. There would be contractual agreements between the racecourses, which would bid for fixtures, and the Horsemen.