Racehorse Owners Association President Charlie Parker used his speech at the organisation’s 78th AGM on Thursday to reflect on the challenges of the post-Covid era as the sport strives for a new strategy for future growth.
Parker referenced the difficult economic climate, citing inflation, high energy prices and the ongoing effects of the war in Ukraine while racing’s headwinds included small field sizes, declining production numbers and potential changes to betting regulations as part of the Gambling Act Review, with concerns around affordability checks.
He said: “The ROA remains at the forefront of the big conversations with stakeholders, ensuring that the voice of owners is at the heart of discussions, helping shape the agenda and is reflected in wider industry strategy planning.
“British racing is desperately in need of a strategic plan to address key issues including governance, structure, race programming and the distribution of prize-money. Progress is being made.
“I would reaffirm that the ROA has a very strong voice on major issues although it does not possess the right to make changes on its own. We must work together to achieve our aims.”
Parker addressed the negative publicity around prize-money by stating that this year the total is the highest ever at over £175 million, due to increased contributions from the Levy Board and racecourses, the majority of which are now matching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
He also discussed the BHA’s recently announced strategy plans, outlining how racing leaders will work together to address the priorities for British racing, which include analysing the levels and distribution of prize-money, and reviewing existing media rights arrangements.
Parker began his speech by paying his respects to the late Queen on behalf of the ROA and British racing. He said: “Queen Elizabeth II was racing’s best known and revered owner and breeder. She was an avid racegoer who lived and breathed racing. Her horses were one of her greatest passions.
“Her Majesty will be sorely missed by all within the horseracing community. She gave a lifetime of support to our industry and sport for which we are immensely grateful. Racing has lost one of its greatest friends.”
There were three vacancies on the ROA board and three candidates put themselves forward for election. Mark Albon, Charles Walker and Tom Goff (re-elected) have therefore joined the board with immediate effect, reflecting the move towards a skills-based board.